Personal Essays Am I A Bad Feminist For Enjoying Gendered Animated Shows

Am I A Bad Feminist For Enjoying Gendered Animated Shows

Childhood animated shows, like Bob the Builder and Cinderella, hold a special place in my heart despite their problematic themes

As a self-proclaimed TV addict, I found myself spending countless hours in front of that glowing box as I sought solace and joy within its mesmerising images. It became a conduit for my dreams, a beacon of hope that allowed me to believe in the extraordinary and the limitless possibilities of life. Throughout my childhood, I found immense joy in immersing myself in the world of entertainment.

From the animated adventures of Bob the Builder to the enchanting tale of Cinderella, each show captivated my young mind and left an indelible mark on my heart. As the years pass by, I find myself growing older and becoming more introspective. My curiosity about why it is that Bob is the one who builds things while Cinderella is destined to be a princess only intensifies as I get older.

animated show Bob the Builder
Source: BBC

In reflecting upon the literature that was imparted to us during our formative years in school, the imaginative realms of characters such as Bob and Cinderella had a profound impact on our perception of reality. These imaginary figures served as archetypes, shaping our understanding of gender roles and influencing our identities. Boys aspired to emulate the strength and resilience embodied by Bob, while girls sought to embody the qualities of delicacy and kindness exemplified by Cinderella.

The lines between reality and fiction blurred, and the traits of Bob and Cinderella became benchmarks for what boys and girls should aspire to be. This trajectory and subconscious conditioning of our identities conflict with my idea of feminism, which is freed from conservative stereotypes and gender roles, and the fact that these narratives are repetitive in animated shows and cartoons hurts the child in me who’s now a feminist.

From the very beginning, I embarked on a personal journey to challenge and dismantle the prevailing stereotypes that plagued society. It was a conscious effort on my part to defy these preconceived gender roles through the choices and decisions I made along the way. In a society where certain activities are often dominated by men, I embraced these challenges as opportunities to reflect my idea of feminism.

I embarked on a journey to learn a diverse range of skills, from the strategic game of chess to the disciplined art of taekwondo, from attaining the skill of driving to delving into the intriguing field of science. As the years passed, I found myself cultivating an affection for activities that engage the mind, activities that some might consider atypical for a woman. I may not have achieved great accomplishments in any particular field, but that has never deterred me from embracing the various activities and roles that society has supplied.

At the same time, it is an undeniable truth that a significant portion of my time has been dedicated to consuming cartoon channels and fantasies, which were targets of the male gaze. The animated shows from Bob the Builder to Cinderella, although now recognised as problematic, hold a special place in my heart, evoking a sense of nostalgia. Their captivating theme songs and vibrant, uncomplicated characters continue to resonate with me to this day.

There is a profound difficulty that I face when attempting to disentangle myself from the captivating allure of the memories and experiences that I associate with television shows like Popeye the Sailor and Mickey Mouse which at face value provide joy but work towards stigmatising gender roles. Every single day, I find myself locked in a relentless battle against the suffocating grip of gender stereotypes. It is a constant struggle as I strive to break free from the confining expectations that society has placed upon me.

However, amidst this ongoing fight, I am confronted with a perplexing contradiction that tugs at the deepest recesses of my being. In the depths of my heart, a yearning emerges, beckoning me to return to the cherished memories of my childhood with tales, animated shows and cartoons. It is a nostalgic pull, drawing me back to a time when life was simpler and the world seemed more innocent. In those formative years, I forged deep connections with the characters that graced my television screen, and I revelled in the vibrant lives we shared.

These fictional friends became an integral part of my existence, offering solace and companionship during moments of solitude. They transcended the boundaries of mere entertainment, becoming confidants and companions, guiding me through the labyrinth of life.

animated show Noddy
Source: Peacock TV

Yet, as I reflect on this desire to revisit the past, I am confronted with a dissonance that threatens to unravel the very fabric of my identity. In my quest to challenge gender stereotypes, I am compelled to question the impact of these tales and characters on my understanding of feminism.

As I reveal my quest for feminism, I find myself immersed in a multitude of activities that allow me to delve into my true identity and unlock my untapped potential. Yet, amidst this pursuit, a part of me remains tethered to my childhood, where imaginary characters and stories held sway over my imagination.

While the tales of Noddy nurtured my creativity, they also served as a reminder of the limitations that were placed upon me. They hindered my freedom to explore, to wander, and to challenge societal norms.

In my pursuit of feminism, I have come to realise that true liberation lies not only in challenging external expectations but also in confronting the internalised limitations that stem from our past experiences. It is a delicate balance, as I strive to honour the whimsical spirit of my childhood while simultaneously breaking free from the chains it unknowingly placed upon me.

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