I have a confession to make: of all the television shows that I watched when I was growing up, my favorite will always be Spongebob Squarepants. I cannot help it. It is the most quotable, upbeat, and charming series that I have ever watched. It takes absolutely no effort to pay attention or follow the plot and is still my escape when I am stressed, sick, or needing a break from reality. When thinking of ideas for blogging, this show stuck out to me as it is so popular among both girls and boys, a feat that even Disney was not able to achieve with its beloved princesses. Although this show does contain many positive morals about work ethic, friendships, and being independent, after re-watching multiple episodes, I realized how many stereotypes and little gender equality is present.
First of all, almost all of the characters on the show are male and have some pretty serious flaws that do not teach good lessons: Mr. Krabs is greedy, Patrick is unintelligent, Spongebob is gullible, Squidward is condescending, Plankton is envious. The only character on the show that does not really have any bad qualities is the only female: Sandy. Throughout the show, she is only ever a good friend of Spongebob’s. I like how women are so empowered by this character, but it is also sad at how much men are put down (and how much little boys are shown that ALL men act like this?).
Although I have multiple episodes in mind, one specifically stands out as being ultra-gender stereotyping and assigns such obvious roles to males and females that I, and many other people who have complained about this episode, was honestly offended.
In “Rock-a-bye Bi-valve”, Spongebob and Patrick discover a baby clam without any parents and decide to raise it as their own. To be funny, the show depicts Spongebob and Patrick taking on the parental roles: Patrick as the dad and Spongebob as the mom. This seems harmless in the beginning, but later in the episode begins to turn into very blatant stereotypes. Patrick goes off to work, leaving Spongebob to take care of the clam, clean the house, and cook dinner. Every night he returns from work “exhausted” and cannot help take care of this clam that he equally agreed to raise. What does this teach the young children who are watching this? For boys, if they grow up and get a job that they work hard at they do not have to help around the house as well? For girls, that if they raise a family they will end up being overworked and abandoned by their spouse? Re-watching this episode was horrifying, especially seeing how I did not see anything wrong with it when I watched it as a child.