The male gaze, for a long time, has been a subject of investigation in popular discourses such as cinema and literature. This article attempts to explore and substantiate the same using cartoons in the Indian and Japanese context which have consciously or subconsciously yielded into this system of stereotypical feminization and sexist generalisations.  

The Young girl feels that her body is getting away from her… on the street men follow her with their eyes and comment on her anatomy. She would like to be invisible; it frightens her to become flesh and to show flesh”, Simone De Beauvoir in Second Sex. 

The Male Gaze refers to the act of depicting womxn and the world told through the idealist perspective of the heterosexual masculine cis viewer, which is warped by the hyper sexualisation and objectification of womxn. The term was originally coined by feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey in her 1975 seminal essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ to describe the cinematic angle with which a heterosexual male character looked at a female character. Thus, the ‘male gaze’ invokes the sexual politics of the gaze by which the woman is simply reduced to a sense of aesthetic pleasure for the man which, in turn, empowers men, while objectifies women. It’s visibly comprehensible in films or video games where the camera deliberately pans cover women’s bodies, often zooming in and out in slow motion, on their various body parts. 

Arguably, viewing our bodies as separate to our minds, promotes objectification and self-surveillance, that is, viewing one’s body from an outsider observer’s perspective”, Nadia Craddock, a research fellow at the Centre for Appearance Research.

Therefore, it becomes pertinent to study and challenge this further in other visual mediums including cartoons, mangas, and anime, for instance. While the cartoons we were so fond of as kids may have been a wellspring of amusement and laughter for us, it’s only now that one can attempt to understand and identify the blatant sexist generalisations and objectification of women, persistent deeply in the very sources of amusement. In fact, if you’re familiar with contemporary animation ,  or the entertainment industry as a whole , it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise: from writers’ desks to character rosters, cartoons have long been a boys’ club.

Hibbeler (2009) analyzed masculine representations in Disney animated feature films and concluded that Disney does not appear to be making progress toward more accurate and positive representations of male characters. Male characters that were heroes and central were portrayed as being younger, slender, sexual and romantically involved, aggressive, and as having family structures not commonly seen in society. These representations of male characters are very stereotypical in nature and further propagate misogyny at its core.

Often, the female protagonists in such cartoons represent a heavily gendered stereotype of a silly and frivolous person whose only positive trait is to attract men. This way, they simply get reduced to merely a two-dimensional, porcelain symbol of femininity meant to be rescued and provided for by a man who simply knows better and has a higher purpose in life diminishing women as pervasive and exploitative caricatures.

We may have been elated at hearing the news of Shizuka and Nobita finally getting married, but how much progress have we really made? The Japanese Manga fails to distinguish from its other contemporaries in stereotyping women. The female characters, though strongly determined, are shown as either too aggressive, unexplainably rude, and irritated beings like Nobita’s mother, accompanied with an uncomfortable feminine imagery, or often meek and modest damsels in distress like our very own Shizuka. For instance, even though Shizuka is in the top scorers of her class and quite smart and intelligent, her pastimes include going to piano lessons, baking cookies, and learning to paint. Often, she is attacked by the supposed ‘villain’ of the episode only to be rescued by Nobita and Doraemon’s gadgets. 

Adding cherry on the top is Nobita’s continuous obsession over her so much so that he somehow, always lands up in her house only to see her bathing, which is creepy, to say the least, and, a sexual offense in the 21st century. The makers of the show, for some reason, repeatedly use such bathing and flying skirt scenes in an attempt of, perhaps, weaving a ‘cute’ love story. The reason for the same can be cited as male ideologies monopolising the conversations over female identity and characters in visual representations and theatre across the globe. It can be argued that Japanese society is traditional and the cartoon was created in the 1970s, so maybe it is reflective of a certain time and place, but the pertinent question, then, becomes: why are we seeing it in 21st century India?


Featured Image: The Dot and Line

Annanya Chaturvedi

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14th Nov…Comes again. Besides hopefully reminding us of the birthday of the first Prime Minister of Independent India, it brings with it innumerable memories of innocent days. When asked to write this article, I never knew the simple task would make memories of lost years flood back and clamour for attention even as nostalgia caused my heart to grow heavy over the irretrievable past. In those days it were the little things that mattered, and when you strain your memory now what you remember most clearly are precisely those ‘insignificant’ little joys.

A brief mention of Little Lulu’s cheeky dialogues should be in order here. And we can’t forget Barney and Fred’s bowling games in Flintstones, the innovative aircrafts in Jetsons, the lovable cowardly Scooby and Shaggy and the all time favorite Tom and Jerry. I’m sure just like me, you all also went through the fever of collecting Tazos from every Cheetos packet. Playing Stone-Paper-Scissors and hand cricket(with rolled up foil acting as ball) during the long school bus journeys and lunch breaks. I’m sure you’d all secretly agree to have having read Sweet Valley Junior High or Baby Sitters Club in your tween years or pairing Barbie with handsome Ken. One thing which never seems to go out of fashion are collectible trump cards, though they seem to have evolved from the beloved WWF cards of our days to Pokemon cards or something equally alien.

Well, those days really had a charm of their own and once in a while reminiscing about them is a wonderful thing. However all said and done, life is beautiful and each stage is enjoyable in its own way. So now that you’ve read this and hopefully day dreamt a bit about your own childhood, lets live our college days with gusto and build more memories well worth cherishing in the far distant future.

-Mallika Davar


I am at a loss as to where to start recounting my childhood memories from. I miss every little weird thing! Insisting on having a happy meal at every trip to McDonalds; listening to the backstreet boys on the walkman at the back of the class; collecting tazos and trump cards only to trade them for more; Going to Appu Ghar for eight out of the ten odd school ‘picnics’ we had; Collecting G.I. Joes. Favourite cartoons such as the Adams Family and Captain Planet! Complicated ways of selecting the ‘denner’ in Tag: In-pin-safety pin, inky-pinky-ponky, etc. Watching Nickelodeon from two to six every afternoon. Collecting little cars, the ones you pull back to make them go vroooom! (The ones my brother ran over my hair for fun, sigh). I’m glad I’ve grown up.

-Kritika Kushwaha


I never thought much of Children’s Day as a kid. Since it was never a holiday it wasn’t any particular fun, except those rare occasions of course when the school inexplicably decided to be nice to us, and took us to Children’s Park or Lodhi Garden. Oh, those times were fun! Now when I sit back and reminisce, distinct memories flit by. I realize with a pang that I miss being a carefree child, embarrassing memories and painful ignorance notwithstanding. Disney Hour, Full House, agonizing over marks, buying large plastic balls and candy floss from the cycle- wallah bhaiya and so much more! There is so much I miss, so much I wish I could go back to.

I think I owe much of the initial stages of my fluttering imagination to Enid Blyton. I can recall umpteen evenings, huddled in some corner of the house, devouring stories of English boarding schools or adventures of the Secret Seven. How I longed to be a part of a secret society, have passwords, own a pet like Scamper! I spent the summer holidays wishing that I too could go to a boarding school. The most fantastic of Enid Blyton’s books for me is The Faraway Tree. Mr.Whatzisname, Moonface, Dame Washalot, Saucepan Man…they were magical stories.

Then there was the freckled Archie and inquisitive TinTin. I gradually moved on to Sweet Valley and Nancy Drew. Another fabulous author was Agatha Christie; I doubt I have read better mysteries than The Crooked House, And Then There Were None, Sparkling Cyanide and so many more.

Also, I think a mention of Harry Potter is in order here; 10 year olds are children are they not? But then, I grew up with Harry Potter.

Radhika Marwah


I miss being a kid and just getting away with everything. You could be digging your nose, jumping into every mud puddle on the way, singing your favourite nursery ryhme for the millionth time in a silly squeaky voice- doing practically anything you wish. All the reactions would get would be “Aww so cute!” As children we were complete nuts, doing the most random stuff like dipping fingers in fevicol, waiting for it to dry , then peeling it off with the utmost sincerity. No one ever wondered what the point of the exercise was, we didn’t need a thing to be meaningful to enjoy it in those days. I miss the simplicity of doing things just because you liked to do them, with no one to roll their eyes or scowl at you.

Aina Mathew