Spongebob Gender Roles

1332 Words6 Pages
What constitutes “masculinity?” Sadly, the term has been defined so harshly that it is having detrimental effects on our society. The definitions of gender roles bombard us everywhere, from books, to advertisements, to movies, there is seemingly no place one can hide from these absurd standards. Canadian sociologist Aaron H. Devor points out in his article “Becoming Members of Society: Learning the Social Meanings of Gender,” that gender norms are learned early on in life, burdening children with these restrictions (388). This is what makes movies which clearly reject and mock gender roles, such as The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, so refreshing. This film opens in a dream that SpongeBob is having about being the new manager at his city’s favorite…show more content…
It’s implied that he’s male throughout the SpongeBob Squarepants television series as he’s always referred to as a “he,” but other than that, he doesn’t exhibit any of the stereotypical male characteristics. Sociologist Michael Kimmel who specializes in gender studies, explores in his article “‘Bros before Hos’:The Guy Code” the characteristics that men are supposed to exhibit. He records that men are supposed to be strong, lacking empathy, and resisting all emotion, except for aggression (462). This is what makes Spongebob such a groundbreaking character. Although he’s male, he doesn’t exhibit any of the stereotypical behavior; he is joyful, emotional, and sensitive. Being a sponge, he appears vulnerable rather than daunting. He challenges male stereotypes by embodying characteristics that are typically considered female. His nonaggressive demeanor is exhibited when he chooses to sulk rather than enacting revenge against Squidward for receiving the promotion. This characteristic is also seen when SpongeBob volunteers to find King Neptune’s crown in order to save Mr. Krabs, the crustacean who overlooked SpongeBob’s clear qualifications for the manager position. Additionally, SpongeBob does not meet the male norm in that he is (comically so) excitable. In one specific scene, SpongeBob and Patrick find themselves in trouble when they throw a spontaneous bubble party in a bar full of thugs. When the biggest and baddest ruffian sees a bubble float into the bar, he lines up the patrons in order to find the “bubble-blowing babies” because anyone who blows bubbles “ain’t a real man.” Here again, pressure to fit a specific mold is demonstrated in this film. Of course this kind of behavior/treatment of behavior is not partial to this theatrical scenario. In 1976, social psychologist Robert Brannon presented a list of rules for
Open Document