The Trojan Horse That Wasn’t — Shezow and Gender Politics

There’s a new show coming to the HUB Network this June about a young boy who gains super powers from his recently-deceased aunt’s ring. The only catch? The ring automatically dolls him up in a pink, leopard print costume, replete with skirt, platform boots, and luscious locks.

But despite what you may have heard from media outlets frantically looking to grab clicks by sensationalizing the cartoon, it isn’t actually all that ground-breaking.

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Don’t get me wrong, Shezow , so far as I know, is the first ever, western cartoon to feature a crossdressing super hero as its protagonist. But so what? Ranma 1/2, which actually changes its character’s gender, lasted for years in Japan and has been a part of the worldwide consciousness for longer than Shezow’s target audience of 9-14 year-olds have even been alive.

But if you’ve heard anything about Shezow, it’s probably that it’s leftist propaganda designed to indoctrinate your children into becoming transgender. And that’s a lie, folks; one perpetrated by people whom, I have to assume, have never seen the show.

I, however, have watched 8 episodes of Shezow, so believe me when I tell you that this show isn’t about disassembling the gender binary and turning your little boys into drag queens. And, if it is about that, show runner, Obie Scott Wade, will most certainly fail, primarily because that’s not how children’s brains work.

There is no way to force a boy into wanting to be a girl. It turns out that kids have an imperative built-in on the gender front that will almost certainly undo any kind of indoctrinating you attempt, no matter how extreme.

If you doubt that, look up David Reimer sometime, who received gender reassignment surgery at 22 months after a botched circumcision and was psychologically reprogrammed to ‘be female’ in every way possible. Those attempts failed and David tried to be ‘male’ despite it all.

That story ends in his suicide. So, yeah. A cartoon show about a cross dressing super hero? It’s not going to turn your kid gay/transgender/unicorn.

But commercialized media aimed at children does have some impact on their psyche. And, by actually watching Shezow, it’s easy to see the thinly-veiled lesson Wade is trying to teach. What it’s actually about, is gender equality.

A little Gender Studies 101 for you – culturally speaking, women have been taking on the roles we have assigned to men in our modern civilization for decades. We aren’t, typically, all that taken aback by women who wear pants, are good at math, or can lift heavy objects. In other words, we see logic in women wanting to emulate the things we have decided fall under the auspices of male behavior, because those things are sensible and good.

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But if we flip the script and have men partake of traditionally female-relegated activities, the reaction is very different. If a man wants to wear pink, tight-fitted clothing, makeup, or have a skin-care regimen, we label him gay, we deny him the same opportunities that we would offer a ‘regular guy,’ and we’re more likely to attack him on the street.

And the reason we do that is actually pretty simple – we don’t understand why a man would want to do ‘women things’ because those things are less. Women are less. And, as such, any man who wants to behave like a woman is punished.

That is what I suspect Shezow is trying to change – this notion that there’s anything wrong with culturally-assigned female behavior patterns and interests. Many episodes debunk the idea that ‘girly stuff’ makes someone weak. To the contrary, Shezow draws his strength from these things.

It’s such a heavy-handed message that, if you’re busy looking for subtlety, you’ll wind up missing it. The show isn’t trying to get little boys to wear dresses – it’s trying to teach them that women are not less than men.

And, you know, I take it back – that is a little ground-breaking, which is kind of sad. But the good news is that, while you can’t rewrite a child’s gender identity, you can absolutely teach them gender equality and Shezow has found a very funny and cute way to do that.

Oh, and postscript, if, at this moment, you’re still angry, if you still think I’m wrong and part of some liberal agenda to turn your kids into homo-loving pinko, communist swine, do me this one favor – watch one episode of Shezow first and then come back to me. Because meaningful dialogue happens when both parties are educated on the topic, right? Right.