The focus of this study is gender stereotyping as revealed by specific animation characters in different periods. The study uses a feminist perspective. The most important reason for this is indicated by the opinion of Reinharz (1992:163): “…feminist researchers focus not only on texts that exist, but on the fact that many types of texts are missing”. A qualitative research method is used which is descriptive, investigative and explorative. The research determined in what way specific animation characters are represented and examines the gender messages conveyed by these characters. These representations are described and the relationship between the different periods and the social and political contexts are discussed. A qualitative approach was used due to its sensitivity to complex social phenomena. The methodology supported the nature of the context. The main focus of the study is the comparison between the two genders in terms of value and importance as shown by the programmes. The researcher continuously aimed to discuss the “true” way in which Mickey and Minnie Mouse are depicted. A broad overview of the existing literature about the representation of gender in animation programmes is included and shows that there is an imbalance in the way that both women and men are depicted. The inference was made that the media is inclined to construct the reality rather than to reflect it. The most important finding is observed in the imbalanced messages conveyed about gender. It shows that the stereotyping of women is refuted by conveying a “positive” message about women, while the stereotype of men is refuted by conveying a “negative” message about men. This alone shows the significant imbalance that exists in relation to the two genders – male characteristics are more likely to be “positive”, whilst female characteristics are usually more likely to be “negative”. More specific to the content of the research it was found that gender stereotypes are shown in all the periods. There are reoccurring gender stereotypical messages conveyed by the text. The imbalance is shown once again: the reoccurring message is “positive” for men but “negative” for women. The conclusion is that the text entrench the dominant gender positioning of women in a specific period.
Dissertation (MA (Research Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2005.