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Language of Cartoons and Comics


The essay discusses how gender roles and sexuality have been portrayed and gender stereotyping as evidenced in all the media presentation. The essay involves examples of the same and also the possible interventions that can secure an understanding of gender and sexuality by using cartoons and comics. The essay also contains arguments for and against the notion that the language of cartoon and comics destabilizes the understanding of gender and sexuality and the way they are perceived in the mass media.

Gender is defined as the characteristics that are considered to distinguish between a man and a woman. It reflects somebody's' biological sex or his or her gender identity. It is also deemed as ones sense of being either a girl or a boy.  There is only two types of gender namely; feminine (female) and masculine (male). These two genders over a period of time through the socialization process acquire or learn how each can carry out different roles pertaining to one's gender. Every gender is known to depict or to possess different characteristics for instance, males are known to be stronger and easily angered while women are known to be weak and can afford to smile. (Sandler, 1998)


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Gender affects individual relationship with media for instance, watching television. These are the tastes and preference of the individual on programs, the amount of time consumed in watching, viewing styles and choice of viewing. This is because decisions about watching a television, at what time and what watch were mostly made by the men in most households. Men could hold remote so that they could switch to any station they want. This limited women from controlling the televisions. From the studies done, men like watching news and sports programs while women enjoyed watching soaps as they carry out domestic chores. This shows how women if portrayed in cartoons and comics would look like.

Sexuality refers to the complex element of our self and personality. It is normally defined by our erotic, sexual thoughts and feeling, desires and experience. It is the force that drives us to exhibit and portray strong emotional feelings for another person. Sexuality therefore, is a natural stimulus in the process of procreation among species in the world. Some people may have suppressed sexuality and as such limiting to express their sexual feelings to friends or colleagues. There are also those who have feelings for the same sex which in the past was against the social norms expected from the people. (Trifonas, 2006)

People who do not conform to the societal norms like gays and lesbians have received prejudices and this have made them not to come out and fight against sentiment and discrimination they receive. These suppressed feelings lead to an individual having problematic relationships or also making them to avoid any sexual relationships. It could lead to having sexual relationships with persons of the same sex and keeping other relationships with some of the opposite sex. This is normally attributed to pressure from the society and peers. Thus, for people to decide who they are becomes a problem especially coming from strong religious backgrounds. For instance, choosing someone to live for the rest of your life is difficult because deep down in the heart you may be a homosexual. (Brahant, 1997)

Media discourse is a subject that is scrutinized in a conversation or in a text. It establishes who has the authority and power to define given a situation and puts people as expert in something or not. Discourse as a process is a method whose communicative aspect of language is a region of scrutiny. It can be a possibility or can be hindrances which are socially constructed in an organization and knowledge is in circulation. It may also refer to the ways of talking about something within a certain group of people, society or culture. Discourse also can be a set of ideas in a cultural context that shapes or guides how we perceive the world.  Thus, media is an important component in the day to day living, as it entails acquiring of information from other parts of the world in as much it affects how we perceive gender and sexuality.  The media discourse of women cartoon and comics refers to how comics and cartoons portray women and gender therefore signifying that critical analysis of the same ought to be done.

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Combining all the above terms regarding to the notional understanding of how media impacts on gender and sexuality is important. Comics and cartoons affect both negatively and positively the understanding of gender and sexuality within a certain media discourse. This is as a result of moral decadence in the society and how media has influenced peoples' behavior. The portraying of gays and lesbians in the form of cartoon and comics has led other people to experiment on the same thus making have a difficulty in choosing whether to go for heterosexual relationships or for same-sex relationships. This in the long run has influenced the norm that sexuality is a natural thing that is meant for procreation. (Griffin, 2005)

The media wide range presences means that media captures a lot and causes a lot of influences on the society, politics and the economy. Media captures individual or personal attention and time than before the advancement of the media. It affects all spheres of people's lives and the industry as whole since it contributes lot money to the sector. This means that people can inherit mistakes and wisdoms from those in the media sector as well from those characters acting in the movies or in the plays if it the comics.

To understand the use of cartoons and comics in the media discourse it means that there should be communication. This is defined as the act of sending and receiving messages, opinions and ideas from one person to another in different geographical area or within the same area. Communication can be through gesture, writings, talking and movement of the body. The use of cartoons to portray women shows a lot about women and thus affecting the understanding of gender and sexuality. This is attributed to the fact that pictures enable one to see the real situation of women and analyze the same situation so as to make a conclusion on how gender and sexuality is portrayed.

Women through history have been relegated the duty of being only customers and not producers. Women have known as objects of attractiveness and of domestic work. The media also portray the bad and the good girls and the series of female images which offer challenging and progressive solutions to the understanding of gender and sexuality. However, there are still unequal gender roles and rampant behaviors' which have not disappeared. Thus, there is the need to collect a lot of evidence from the media industry for the preparation of gender interventions and carry out substitution of confined women to more positive and productive women.

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Gender inequality is a social problem in most societies which has been perpetuated by the media especially the use of comics. It defined as the process in which the beliefs that women are subordinate and inferior to their male counterparts are transmitted socially from generation to generation through the media and other contexts. While gender identity on the other hand, refers to identifying one's self with one sex.

Gender inequality has been propagated by the socialization process which has reinforced the inferiority complex of women. This is especially through the comic strips since they reach various individuals. Comics have portrayed women as innocent and have been seen to be a cultural artifact or have been used to reflect people's culture does not give a true picture of that culture. For instance, men may be portrayed as autonomous but when they marry, they become defenceless against their wives and become very cool. This shows clearly that comics do not support the understanding of gender and sexuality at a glance since it lies on one side or on one sex.

Many people have read comics since generations to generations but they do not realize that it does not reflect what it is meant to give or to do so. Comics give an inaccurate picture of the society culture which perpetuates gender inequality.  For instance, women are portrayed acting as domestic workers but executives who can do better jobs and vice versa (Dara, 2010).

In comics, men and women stereotypic behaviors are depicted since men's roles do not include childcare roles and women role do not include work roles but only domestic roles. In these comics men are given preference that is in the number of times they appear on stage and the number of career involved in the same. This distorts the reality and continuous airing of the same make men to be believed to more superior than men. This therefore subverts the understanding of gender and sexuality since women are oppressed in each manner; they are also deprived of their rights to do other chores that their male counter parts can do. The continuous use of comics perpetuates inequality since it creates consciousness necessary for the same thought. Most women have ended up agreeing that the image of women in the print media is a contributor to sexism and also as a symptom of them same. Thus, this inhibits the understanding of sexuality and gender in the media discourse. Unless the media portray women and men with their capabilities is when attitudes can begin changing but it will take time.

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Differences in gender representation in the media have been crucial since they have gone to the extent of challenging the understanding of sexuality. Women who are more than half of the world's population are represented in the social phenomena and the media in general. They have been exhibited as been not worthy individuals when compared to their male counterparts. Chafetz in 1978 once stated that fictional representation meant that there was existent in the social context while their absences meant symbolic annihilation. (Chafetz, 1978)

 The use of symbolic annihilation is a powerful metaphor that explains the manner in which the media images and cartoons make women as invisible beings. This invisibility is not achieved through the under representation of female's views or opinions regarding the world. When women are made visible in the media, their way of representation would be depict the underlying assumptions and biases of those fellows who form the public and the media agenda. When the international community recognized the gender inequality rampant in the media industry, and how women through the use of comics and cartoons were portrayed in every aspect of life even if there were measures and interventions to bridge the gap the power to define the media and public agendas were still dominated.

Although most of the researchers are working towards equitable representation in their work, there is still much to be done for gender disparity to be eliminated. This therefore explains the underlying reasons why the notional understanding of gender and sexuality is highly subverted by the use of comics and cartoons.

According to a research conducted by Donald, in the USA, it is clear that more men than women are in paid labor. In the television commercial analysis, its content reveals that 40.3% of senior males and 2.4% of senior females were working. This therefore showed the fact that there is still gender disparity in job market, this inhibits or challenges the understanding of gender and sexuality in the language of comics and cartoons since women are seen to be concerned with low-paying jobs and other menial jobs which their male counterparts cannot do. The use of cartoons and comics in presenting the above in an environment where the audiences are the children distracts their understanding of these two concepts. (Donald, 2007)

As men are shown in paid labor, women are shown doing their household chores. This explains the roles that the socialization process has played in the division of labor. This meant that if men were to do household or domestic jobs they would still need the assistance of women otherwise they would fail in carrying out the same, and in turn they would be deemed incapable. This propagates the problematic notion that females are naturally and best suited for domestic chores since these have been ascribed for long. This limits the understanding of gender and sexuality since it enhances the underlying assumptions that certain chores are done by certain gender.

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The connection existing between femininity and beauty manifested itself in the media especially in entertainment in several ways. For example, headlines of female magazines make references to the significance of physical appeal, which is associated with both negative and positive things, like antisocial behaviours, romance, intelligence and more knowledge than what their male counterparts are associated with. The gender stereotyping phenomena which signify that women who are beautiful are likely to be hired than those who are not is considered the norm. (Van Zoonen, 1994)

This subverts the understanding of gender and sexuality since it has narrowed women's minds to thinking that only the good looking deserve to be given jobs. This has therefore, made young girls to be identified with certain female presenters or entertainers. In conjunction to this femininity has been equated with thinness while masculinity has been equated with muscular and sexual bodies. This further inhibits the understanding of gender and sexuality since female cartoon is thin while male cartoon is portrayed as muscular and as such different roles can ascribed to them according to their physical capability which an ill-conceived idea.

The language of comic and cartoons do not undermine the understanding of gender and sexuality since these are naturally ascribed elements. This is supported by the fact that women are naturally beautiful and as such cartoons portraying women as attractive do not challenge the understanding of gender and sexuality. This is propagated by the story of Rapunzel who was a beautiful girl who was imprisoned by a witch doctor. The witchdoctor locked in a room which he could only call her so that she let down her long hair but, one day a prince was passing by and he spotted her and felt in love with her. (Lent, 2006)

When the witch noticed that he made the prince blind since he used to call the girl to let her hair down so that he could climb over the window. Although the prince was blind he still went to see her and when he found her the girl would cry and the tears of happiness restored his eye sight. This example actually shows that the ascribed roles to both female and male beings are difficult to be altered and as a matter of fact cartoons do not subvert their perception.

On the other hand, Shoujo a Japanese comic challenged the understanding of gender and sexuality since it entailed only women and its market niche was only women in the beginning but later incorporated men. Women world was challenging in a number of ways. For instance, when male character appeared on stage they came up with a new look by granting their counterparts a point so that they could explore their sexual desires without telling the women of their feelings. This story has challenged the conception and understanding of gender and sexuality since the Shoujo are thinking of marriage because the text has not depicted them as having any romance with boys. (Fusami, 2001)

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This means that their traditional gender roles have been subverted or have been destabilized to the extent that the society would reach a moment when it will no longer be growing. Instead of showing romance between boys and girls it showed only male verses male or female verses female. The later changes made by other women writer called Hanna no 24 Nenguni differentiated heterosexual love and the homosexual love and this brought out the meaning of introducing the male characters in the comic for sexuality to be understood clearly.

The notional understanding of gender and sexuality has been furthered subverted by comics likemangafrom Japan which are highly idealized and romantic since it involves character who identify themselves as gays or lesbians. The comics have been used to educate people on AIDS and on safer sex since same sex also spreads HIV, and how AIDS spread among the homosexuals. This shows that the understanding of gender roles which are socially constructed and sexuality which is a natural phenomenon has been tampered with the introduction of such comics since people no longer see the need of having opposite-sex partners.

Comic books are highly read in America and Japan and as such on a higher demand. Sexuality in these comics is rooted but how it is presented to the audience is totally different. The Japanese comics accepts sexuality as an integral part of the process of creating comics and as a thing which is normal for them to include. Comics designed for the younger age in America is seen as a taboo while in Japan there is no problem regarding the same. In America it is against the societal norms while in Japan it is part of their culture. In the Japanese Manga, sexuality is portrayed openly whether corrupted or perverted. While American ones sexuality is totally different since female bodies are displayed to excite the male reader but in Japan it is to excite the female reader. This influences the understanding of gender and sexuality since females have taken to please other women instead of men and vice versa. (John, 2009)

The cartoons in the media which portray women as criminals and the fact that they end up receiving smaller and lenient punishment than men is not a true fact and thus influencing the understanding of gender and sexuality. However, if women commit a crime that goes against the traditional norms and gender roles, for example when they harsh a child, they will receive severe punishment than men who have done the same. This is due to the traditional expectations of a woman. That is women are supposed to be caring and merciful and are expected to treat the children in a good manner even if they are rude or no matter how the behave. This means that women are supposed to persevere and not to show that they are angry with their children. This subverts the notional understanding of gender and sexuality since women have the duty of bringing up children in a manner that is acceptable in the society leaving out the men who are also supposed to be contributing on the same.

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Male actors in the media from the British society to the newspapers comics to films are known to be highly aggressive as compared to female counterparts or characters. Guantlett, established that women in comedies were likely more aggressive both physically and verbally than their male counterparts, and vice versa in dramas. This shows that the women's aggressive nature has not been taken into consideration in various aspects of media. This has been known to be a challenge in the understanding of gender and sexuality since it portrays women and men in ways that are traditionally known, but his suppress the woman potential in the media sector. (Guantlett, 2002)

This also subverts the notional understanding of gender and sexuality since women in the media through the use of comics have been projected as objects rather than active participants or objects. Thus, there is a need to analyze the institution and the social structures surrounding the plight of women in the media sector and how gender and sexuality have been understood and portrayed. This is attributed to the fact that women have been marginalized and have been offered supportive roles in many aspects which are propagated in the media. This in turn has influenced the understanding of gender and sexuality in the contemporary world. The use of cartoons and comics detriments the image of a woman in the society and boosts the image of a man. This is deemed as discriminatory thing since both women and men deserve fair and equal representation and good reflections or portrayals from the media. (Butler, 1990)

Women representation in the media is greatly influenced by the political and economic spheres. For example, in Asian countries which have seen some transformation with the emergence of commercial cables and channels that uses the satellite transmissions and also the conversion of the state owned media to private owners. This in turn brought a change since its aims were to focus on the market. But in as much as bringing change it also depicted some conflicts with the introduction of women and the use of cartoons and comics. This challenges the understanding of gender and sexuality since men used to dominate in the sector and the fact that cartoon would be prepared and aired in media according to how men or women look like. This therefore, showed the dependence aspect of the female on the male which something that is not true. (Wanless, 2001)

The women participation and their voices have not been heard or seen as something which worthy in the media. The use of cartoons and comics their have suppresses them and in as much they try to build a good image they are still hindered by other factors. This subverts the understanding of gender and sexuality. The programs for women in other countries are still housewifery and are related to motherhood instead of programs geared towards building the woman image in the society. This therefore affects the notional understanding of gender and sexuality since are still since not worthy to what is good or best. This calls for serious interventions for gender and sexuality to be considered in every field in development

The reflection of gays, lesbians and bisexual in the media has led to many people accepting that there is sexual diversity and it is somebody choice. There is clear evidence from the western world that the younger generation has accepted the diversity and as such these young people have indulged and ventured in the same, they no longer view it as a source of moral decay but to them it is part and parcel of life.

The reflection of the same has led to them gaining popularity and acceptance across the western world. According to a research conducted by Pew Global Attitudes in 2004 in Canada to know if homosexuality should be accepted, the Canadians responded that it should be accepted since it is one's personal choice. This showed that people no longer valued their traditional norms as required. Contrary to this, a research carried out in Kenya to find out about the same showed that people did not want the same since it is against morals and Christianity.

From the above reflections from the media, the notional understanding of gender and sexuality has been corrupted to suit personal needs and attributes without considering the natural feeling of procreation. This therefore, means that the western world no longer value marriage between people of the opposite sex which a vital institution in each society, meaning that a society will one day be extinct. (Grill & Roy 2003)

There is a need to understand how media images relate to the persons sense of being and the person's identity. It should also take into consideration how this person is subjected to the various settings and how he or she is perceived. The critics have arisen to challenge how comics and cartoons influence the understanding of gender and sexuality within the media discourse. This was to address their representation in the media industry and how they are portrayed since women have been marginalized in so many ways not only in the media but also others. This therefore has been seen to continually destabilizing how gender can be understood and how possible measures can be derived to address gender issues in the media as a whole. Thus, if comics and cartoons are used in a manner that shows the importance of women, it means that women will be in a position to compete with their male counterparts in various fields and aspects of life. This is due to the fact women are aggressive and humorous and they can perform well in comedies and movies. (Nicole, 2000)

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Comics can either be good or bad depending on the audience. There are comics that are bad in nature and as such this affects children behaviors and their understanding of gender issues in media and their sexuality. This means that there are comics which lure children into doing things that are not expected of their age. This means that parents have to guide their children concerning the same or advise them to venture on good comic that are motivational and adds value to their lives rather than those that influence them. The violence and sex comics may be good to most teenage but parents have to convince their teenager to quit reading them. This has been known to influence the understanding of gender and sexuality.

Comics like the Disney comic, which is a powerful American tool for capitalism and imperialism are not propagating the understanding of gender and sexuality since they present themselves as not harmful entertainment of children. The underlying reason as to why this comic is not paving the understanding and importance of gender and sexuality is that its characters are only children, uncles, cousins and nephews. It does not depict mothers and fathers who are the biological parents of these people. It shows how patriarchy is propagated since this comic is male dominated. (Halberstam, 2008)

Women and comics display different characteristics for instance; humour in conversations is highly created and enhanced by female characters than men. Women's humor is more subtle than men's since women seek to maintain a good relationship with those in power if at all they ridicule them in as much as maintaining their status quo. This is because of the historical differences that exist in power which makes women not to risk while being humorous in comics as they try to avoid being seen as aggressive. Analysis done on cartoons and comics involving the same showed the existence of differences in gender and the changing roles of men and women in society. The comparison done before and after 1980s showed that there was a great change that was geared towards less stereotypical displays of women characters in the media (Chavez 1985)

For better understanding of gender and sexuality content analysis is done so that the representation of both women and men can be showed. Content analysis means a variety of ways used to analyze media texts which involves, magazines and televisions, it shows the number of times women appear and the number of times men appear. It also entails counting a number of portrays.

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This helps in understanding gender since it examines portrayals across media ranging from dramas comics, videos, advertisement, and games. However, it is not limited on how women and men relate in a group. This analysis is vital because of its characteristics that help in understanding gender and sexuality since it can be used in politics and media managers with a query like why do women make up only 25% of those acting in a play?

In cartoons, the representation of human bodies with aspects of femininity and masculinity has been altered to an extent that one cannot distinguish. The exhibition of sexuality is dominating in the methodology which helps in relocating gender but it has been destabilized in the animated cartoons since it involves complex gender discourse. This means that the characters may look masculine yet they are females and vice versa. This has been detrimental in the notional understanding of gender and sexuality since it does not portray the real nature of the person. In the animated cartoons the body is perpetuated in a manner which does not allow for the identity of the person. This highlights that masculine features can be made indistinguishable from those of the feminine.

The ways in which these cartoons are looked is different because it resists the importance of sexuality and the species meaning that there is acceptance of Disney cartoons.  Cartoons render gender and sexuality in a manner that cannot be understood and making it unstable thus legalizing unusual and excess modes of behavior that is unchecked by the societal values and norms. This influences children's mind since they are still developing their cognitive thinking structures thus media contexts largely impact on their mind.

Comics and cartoons have idealized images that have been known to affect both men and women in the same way. Exposure to these idealized images means that there is a decreased body satisfaction and increase in the drive towards this physique that has been idealized.This shows that cartoons are highly theorized to exhibit and catalyze higher standards of female bodies which have had negative repercussion on both male and female. This has therefore subverted the notional understanding of gender and sexuality since they exaggerate the real physical appearance of males and female to the extent that one cannot actually comprehend. (Carter, 2004)

The media therefore has reflected societal assumptions concerning gender meaning that since 1950, women have been portrayed as subordinates and they have been given positions which are meaningless and do not add value to their lives. Instead, their lives have been affected in one way or another.Their portrayal has therefore become monolithic but others have devoted their attention on women's achievements. This has been shown in advertisements and comics. It has limited the understanding of gender and sexuality since women have not been given adequate attention in the media.

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The notional understanding of gender and sexuality in media discourse has been subverted by these cartoons and the strip comics. This is due to the fact that through the analysis of the use cartoons and comics, men and women have been portrayed in a manner that is not socially accepted and has perpetuated the notions that women are inferior and are dependent on men meaning that the coming generations will still know that the same females are subordinate to their male counterparts. This has affected the perception of both men and women meaning that there is still more that media has to do to bring out the real pictures of men and women. The right comics and cartoons have to be prepared so that the right reflection can be done. (Shodt, 1996)


The reading of comics and the use of cartoons have to be revisited so that real women and men capabilities have not been depicted to enhance the understanding of gender equality and sexuality. The Japanese comics have portrayed women and men as having same-sex relationships which is against many cultures cross the world. This means that specific media has to be used so that women and men can be depicted in a manner that portrays the understanding of gender and sexuality.



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