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HomeE-schoolFor studentsV-VII class

Lesson 1
Who will save the world?



You watch cartoons like us, don't you? May be two or tree years ago you watched them much more.... Most of the cartoons are actions with superheroes. Superheroes are kind, smart, and strong and have incredible weapons and costumes or magical powers. Their every day job is to save the world.




Danny and I often argue who are the coolest - the men or the women. And very often we aren't on the same opinion. We compare them all the time and, believe it or not, we find more and more similarities between them - it is difficult to know them from each oher. 

It's good that each of them has some special weapon or a transformation skill. Otherwise, they seem to be "copy-paste".

Don't you agree? Do the funny test HERE to check!


But why superheroes are portrayed in this way? May be television producers were lazy to think about something original or probably because they do not have his teacher to breathe down their neck and stimulate them to be innovative (Can anybody tell me what this means?).

But why superheroes are portrayed in this simplified way? Is it because the script writers were lazy to think of something original or probably because they don't have a teacher to breathe down their neck and urge them to be innovative in their writing (Can anyone explain what does it mean?).

The truth (apart from the above said) is that most of the television programs are quite short so the characters must be presented as quickly as possible. To do this, authors often use STEREOTYPES.

A stereotype is a commonly held notion of the characteristics of a person or a group related to their behaviour or appearance.

It can be either positive ("men are good at maths") but most often are negative ("women are bad drivers") and show superiority in some way to the person or group being stereotyped.

Some of the oldest and most stable stereotypes in each society are what men and women should be in that society - what is right and what is wrong behaviour, what traits of character are valued, what is the acceptable and appropriate work or job for them, what is considered beautiful or ugly in their appearance. For instance, the typical stereotype for the "real man" represents him as brave, powerful, clever and decisive. The woman is considered to be beautiful and tender. She is a caring mother and supports the man by her side by ensuring the coziness and peace at home.

Stereotypes are formed by the family, the school, the religion or even by the laws of a country. You can see them everywhere: look at your toys or in the pictures in the textbooks. Do they tell you what should a man or a woman be? Media as well as the cinema and the Internet, also reproduce stereotypes and you can easily find them on the news, in TV ads or your favourite cartoon superheroes.


Let's get back to our cartoon superheroes. What stereotypes are used in cartoons to portray the appearance and character of girls and boys, women and men?

Generally, stereotypes are less real, more perfect, (or imperfect) and more predictable than their real-life counterparts and their behaviour is easy to predict based on their gender. Find out more about male and female characters in cartoons HERE.

Their traits of character or appearance are emphasized according to their gender. Thus the viewer can quickly and easily recognized them as good or evil, beautiful or ugly, masculine or feminine.

That is why the characteristics and behavior of superheroes ever since the dawn of comic books and cartoons has changed so little. Captain Marvel, Batman and Dare Devil are so similar, no matter several decades lie between them. The same is with Wonder Woman, Lara Croft or Batgirl. Although female superheroes were created long time after their male "colleagues". You can point out many world savers among the super heroines today but it has not been always like that. If you read the text HERE you will learn more about female cartoon characters.


So, apart from the similarities between superheroes and between superheroines, you can see even with the naked eye that there many things in common between the two groups as well - at least all of them have plenty of positive features.  

The differences, however, are more interesting as they show how their authors see the characteristics of men and women and whether they are not actually slaves of their bias and stereotypical thinking.

For instance superheroines unlike superheroes are very sensitive and extremely sexy. They are always in love - preferably in another superhero - and conquering his heart is the most important thing for them. While men are ususally rich and protect the weak and never cry. Thus these fntastic and unreal characters reflect the gender stereotypes we are used to and reproduce them as the prefered model of behaviour.



In fact, there is nothing wrong in watching cartoons and having fun with the superheroes. As long as you don't you take their behaviour too seriously? Do you want to imitate them in their appearance, manners and way of speaking?

Hardly real life people are like superheroes. That's why nobody expects from you to attract the attention of Katie from 5в hanging from the roof on spider's web. Or together with your friends to send all storms in your teacher's garden to pay him back for the poor marks.

Ask yourself questions about anything. They are even more important than the answers. Besides, in real life, the answer is not only one like in mathematics.

That is why it is so difficult somebody to give you the right recipe for being a man or being a woman or if boys have to play only with toy cars and girls with dolls. You are the one to find your answer. And don't forget that diversity makes life interesting - different people with different characteristics, skills and interests, no matter if they are women or men.

And if you want to be like your favourite superheroes our advice is: „Don't test if you have gained superpowers at home!" You'd better do your homework or go out and have some fun riding your bicycle. This energy should be used up as the annoying adults keep on telling you.

And finally, if we go back to the question: „Who will save the world?", may be the most correct answer could be „Men and women together - with joint efforts".















This training module on gender equality for school students is developed under the project "Equal at School - Equal in Life", financed by the European Youth Foundation to the Council of Europe in the framework of the "All Different, All Equal" European Youth Campaign for Diversity, Human Rights and Participation; the Directorate on Culture and Education of Sofia Municipality and CWSP's own resources. 

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For students
V-VII class
Who will save the world?
Did you know that ...
TEST for fun
Other related topics:
V-VII class
Module for V-VII class
Lesson 2
Lesson 3
Lesson 4
Lesson 5
Facts and Figures

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