Is Cartoon Network sexist?

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Mar 22, 2018
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#1
Prior to 2004, Cartoon Network had shows that anyone of any age, gender, or demographic in general could enjoy. However, ever since then, it seems that Cartoon Network has become more of a boys channel.

Around that time, they cancelled The Powerpuff Girls for being "too girly". They then tried other shows with female protagonists, like Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, and Totally Spies, but those were short-lived.

Ever since Cartoon Network rebranded in June of 2004, it seems that they've only been targeting boys with "boyish" shows with action and toilet humor. Such examples include Ben 10, Billy and Mandy, Kids Next Door, My Gym Partner's a Monkey, Squirrel Boy, Camp Lazlo, etc. The only shows from the pre-Check IT era that I think don't target just boys are Foster's and Class of 3000.

Also, the post-Check It era only has three original shows that don't appeal to just boys, and those are Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and We Bare Bears. Otherwise they've still been targeting boys.

I just don't get it. Why can't they reach out to their female audience as well and overall advertise the channel as being for either genders?
 

Light Lucario

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#5
I've never heard of them cancelling Powerpuff Girls for being too girly. That claim seems pretty questionable at best considering how long the original series lasted, they made a Powerpuff Girls movie and it's arguably one of their most recognizable series to date. I thought that the creative team decided to end the series rather than it being cancelled, but I'm not sure about that. Still, I highly doubt that they cancelled Powerpuff Girls for being too girly. If that was the case, then why would they revive it? Regardless of how you feel about the reboot, if they didn't want the original series for being too girly, then they probably wouldn't have brought it back for merchandise.

I know that Juniper Lee and Puffy Ami Yumi only had one season each, but Totally Spies wasn't short lived. It lasted for six seasons. I'm not sure if Cartoon Network aired all of them, but I'm pretty sure it aired at least a good chuck of the series. I remember one of the later seasons airing on the channel where the girls were already in college, so they aired more than one season of that series at least.

As for the question itself, I'm not sure if this change happened in 2004. Shows like Dexter's Lab and Cow and Chicken don't really give the impression that they were aimed at a gender neutral demographic. There were more shows in the mid 2000's where there were more shows blatantly focused on appealing to boys and had more gross out humor, but I don't think that trend continues today. I haven't watched Craig of the Creek yet, but even shows like OK KO don't really involve gross out humor. I think Gumball could be considered appealing to girls since it is more of a comedic take on a slice of life kind of series rather than something that would primarily appeal to boys.

I don't know if the lack of series specifically aimed at girls is sexist or not. This is mainly because I don't think you inherently need shows to cater specifically to girls in order to make them like the series. Even when I was little, most of the series I liked were aimed primarily at boys with a few gender neutral shows and that's still pretty much the same case for today. This also might be why the lack of female focused series doesn't strike me as automatically sexist. I'm just used to watching any show that appeals to me, regardless of whether or not that I'm in the target demographic for that show, that I think other girls would react similarly.

Ideally, having more shows aimed at girls would be nice, but it's probably seen as more of a risk in a way. A show aimed at boys might not turn girls away from it, but a show aimed at girls can turn boys away from it. Since boys are considered the main demographic while girls are a secondary demographic, networks might be less interested in making shows specifically for girls. This isn't just for Cartoon Network, but for most TV channels in general. It doesn't sound like it should be an issue since if a show is good, it would attract an audience regardless, but it does tie into how the networks recognize the different demographics.
 

SweetShop209

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#6
I know that Juniper Lee and Puffy Ami Yumi only had one season each, but Totally Spies wasn't short lived. It lasted for six seasons. I'm not sure if Cartoon Network aired all of them, but I'm pretty sure it aired at least a good chuck of the series. I remember one of the later seasons airing on the channel where the girls were already in college, so they aired more than one season of that series at least.
Actually, Juniper Lee and Puffy Ami Yumi each had 3 seasons, and the former ran for 40 episodes while the latter ran for 39. Though JL had its last episodes aired on the CN website from what I heard, and AmiYumi never aired its last few episodes in the US. Totally Spies aired for 5 seasons while the 6th season never aired in America. (Also, it's a French-Canadian cartoon, and not considered a CN original, since it aired on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon in places like Southeast Asia and Germany. Your other points still stand though.
 

ToonJay723

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#8
The Powerpuff Girls was ended because it reached six seasons, and Cartoon Network used to limit their shows to six seasons.


Also most of the shows CN is airing now are pretty gender neutral, so I'm not sure what you're talking about.
 

Light Lucario

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#11
Actually, Juniper Lee and Puffy Ami Yumi each had 3 seasons, and the former ran for 40 episodes while the latter ran for 39. Though JL had its last episodes aired on the CN website from what I heard, and AmiYumi never aired its last few episodes in the US. Totally Spies aired for 5 seasons while the 6th season never aired in America. (Also, it's a French-Canadian cartoon, and not considered a CN original, since it aired on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon in places like Southeast Asia and Germany. Your other points still stand though.
Ah, I thought that both of those series had pretty short runs, but it also doesn't help that I don't remember much about them. I remember that Totally Spies wasn't a Cartoon Network original series. I wasn't sure if that mattered or not in this context given that the issue was not having shows specifically aimed at girls.
 

Red Arrow

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#12
Totally Spies had its world premiere on ABC Family in 2001. It only moved to Cartoon Network two years later.

Honestly I cannot grasp the idea of Totally Spies on Cartoon Network, especially with the old logo. That just blows my mind. We had it on VT4, Fox Kids, Jetix, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Nickelodeon and NickToons.
 

NeoplanDan

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#13
Then Disney Channel and Disney XD are sexist as well...
They were like that when around between 2006 and 2016, they began catering mostly towards teenage girls to shows (such as High School Musical, Hanna Montana, etc) over males. A notable but a classic example.

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Takao

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#14
Yes, a channel run by a woman is incredibly sexist against women ...

I think it's likelier Turner decided going after boys would keep them from competing with Nick and Disney. Those two have a stronghold with girls thanks to the live action sitcoms. Their pursuit for boys is aided by their ownership of Warner, who holds a tonne of boy-leaning DC Comics characters that were once a big source of programming. Though, by this time next year Cartoon Network will have 2 girl-only superhero teams and zero boy-only ones ...
 

Fone Bone

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#16
Then Disney Channel and Disney XD are sexist as well...
This is the correct answer. You could argue that the channel is more geared and marketed to boys. But that isn't the same thing as sexism. At all.
No I don’t think it’s sexist. I really hate when people accuse things for being sexist when it’s clearly not.
I agree. People doing that make complaints about ACTUAL sexism be taken less seriously. We need to be more careful with our words, especially when it comes to this subject.
 

Radical Edward

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#19
CN is more gender-neutral now than it's ever been, especially since Miller took over. Boys stopped being the primary demographic and more shows geared towards a general audience of both sexes are produced.
I agree. People doing that make complaints about ACTUAL sexism be taken less seriously. We need to be more careful with our words, especially when it comes to this subject.
Couldn't agree more. Calling sexism on mundane stuff like this will only help trivialize instances where sexism actually happens.
 

Dudley

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#20
It's not sexism, it's just basic focus on demographics.
For quite a while, studies were shown that boys and girls will watch shows targeted towards boys, or gender-neutral shows (like comedies), but only girls watch girl shows. Wanting to get the biggest audience they could, and as said not having to compete with Disney, they focused on the young male demographic.
Fortunately, trends have changed and they realized boys will watch a show with a female lead.
 

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