Analysis / Girl Show Ghetto

Though its far from the only reason, one of the less discussed factors that plays into maintaining the Girl Show Ghetto is the perception created by Lifetime Movie of the Week, and Women Are Wiser. The expectation here is that a show featuring a female lead might be preachy and/or tend to bash men a lot, and this perception is not without merit.

Take the Big Three of DC Comics: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Superman and Batman, whether their stories have depth or not, tend not to be allegorical or political (at least until Superman's 2011 reboot). But Wonder Woman has strong feminist themes. She comes from an island entirely populated by female rape victims where men are forbidden to set foot and stories focused on her outside her own title (and sometimes in it) will take pot shots at men (though Wonder Woman is shown to be above doing so herself, the writer will inject these themes into the narrative).

This creates a clear impression in the minds of potential male readers that if you pick up an issue of Wonder Woman, you can expect to be preached at. How many fans do you think are beating down the doors of their local comic book shop on shipping day for that opportunity?


  • Males who enjoy Shoujo works are often looked at askance. Sometimes inverted with women that like Shonen being treated like they're all Yaoi Fangirls. Shoujo anime in general is subject to this.


  • DC Comics It's very largely a 'boys club'. Of the initial New 52 reboot, a quick count shows 27 titles focusing on a male hero, 6 focusing on a female hero (3 of whom have 'Bat' or 'Super' in front of their name) and a number of team books which are predominantly male (with Birds of Prey being an exception and the flagship Justice League title being 85% male).
  • Over at Marvel Comics, there are no female characters that are as well-known as Wonder Woman, Supergirl or Batgirl.
    • Back in the Nineties, the closest frontrunner was probably Storm.
    • In the 2000s, Ms. Marvel started getting promoted as the company's big-name superheroine after House of M, and the promotional push only got stronger when she was relaunched in 2012 as the new Captain Marvel.

Western Animation Film

  • In the early 2000s, Walt Disney Animation Studios started to make noticeably boy-oriented movies, featuring dinosaurs, emperors, pirates in space, and bears. Atlantis: The Lost Empire had a princess in it, though it was more about adventure in undersea caverns than romance; Home on the Range had female animals as main protagonists but was the last 2-D animated film for five years and flopped badly. In fact, this whole run of films constitutes a major Dork Age for the company. Lilo & Stitch managed to avoid the ghetto for the most part, despite its female main characters, and was the most profitable Disney film of this period. However, this may be due to the marketing focusing exclusively on Stitch, a presumably-male alien.


  • This even extends to the authors themselves, as the many women who have used a Moustache de Plume can attest.
  • The young adult and middle grade (eight-twelve years old) demographics mostly consists of young girls. Part of this is because boys have a tendency to refuse to read anything with a female protagonist for reasons stated above and young adult and middle grade tend to be considered girly. Another part that affects middle grade more than young adult, is that parents buying books for their sons have a tendency to look for books that could be considered "masculine" when buying for their sons, and "gender neutral" or "girls power themed" books for their daughters.


  • Happens in music quite often. Boy bands/Teen Idols (usually aimed at girls) usually end up gaining a huge Periphery Hatedom, with people sometimes literally sending death threats, but a Girl Group probably won't have as much of a problem, because of all of the fanservice.
    • It helps that, in North America at least, girl groups tend to have a much shorter run, whereas pop idol soloists are often women. Hence: contractual purity and associated tropes. Male pop singers face backlash and are expected to transition from "cute" to "adult" without losing their audience, much in the same way female pop idols are required to become Hotter and Sexier. It's then that double standards kick in, as the male musician who sheds his "cute" image will be praised, while women will be accused of relying on their body, abandoning their values, etc.
    • Even outside the pop landscape, female-fronted music tends to garner less acclaim and recognition from critics than male-fronted music. This could probably be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that Most Critics Are Male.

  • Pinball has been hit with this hard, is still deep within it, and shows little signs of moving out of it, though the level of acceptance depends on if you're viewing it from the base of players or from the industry itself. Both stem from pinball's history of being games played at casinos and bars, places where men would hang out with each other and develop a clique-like social atmosphere, with manufacturers catching on and making games accordingly; and of pinball's aging demographic. From the player side, there have been many events designed to bring women in and have them feel welcome, and the result is a slow but gradual shift in the gender ratios at competitions, conventions, and other events, though it is still overwhelmingly male. From the industry side, most of the designers, executives, and producers have been making pinball since The '80s, carrying the social attitudes about games from that period. Pinball moved from casinos and bars to more family-friendly locations like arcades, pizza parlors, movie theaters, and bowling alleys, resulting in machines aimed at kids, but the only manufacturer to have ever designed tables aimed explicitly and unambiguously at women was Zaccaria in Italy, though it went out of business in 1990.
  • The one machine that might shake the industry out of the ghetto would be Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons, a game with an incredibly strong Male Gaze element, as it received a tremendous backlash, enough for Stern to issue a Palette Swap with a complete overhaul of the theme, changing it to the more gender-neutral Pabst Blue Ribbon beer (though still thoroughly rooted in pinball's association with bar culture). The main movers and shakers in pinball are all white males, however, and are very specialized in their knowledge—considering the disastrous attempt in 2012 to sell pinball machines to China (they did not do any localization, translation, or even voltage changes), it's unlikely they currently have the know-how to sell outside their standard demographics.


  • Some Merchandise-Driven shows sport a variation, where the show itself doesn't have this problem as much but it's the merchandising that takes a hit. Showing off a Red Ranger figure in the playground is cool, showing off a Pink Ranger figure is an invitation to get beaten up. Or at least that's what toy companies think; even when the girls aren't dressed up in bright pink they'll just assume no boy will be interested in buying their stuff.. Starting in 2014-15, if you see a Twitter hashtag asking "Where's [the girl]?" (like #WheresGamora, #WheresBlackWidow, #WheresHera, #WheresRey, #WheresSkye), that's people responding to this trope in play.
  • Dolls in general were only seen as being for girls. In more modern times however, where toy architecture has evolved beyond plastic, the woman is the most prone to be freaked out by them.

Video Games
  • Despite Rated M for Manly being deeply entrenched in gaming culture, research has shown it's actually the opposite: while boys largely don't care about whether the main character of the game is male or female, girls do and would prefer to play as a fellow female; the logical choice in terms of reaching the greatest number of players, then, would be a game about an Action Girl, but such things are the exception rather than the rule.
  • Video games may perhaps be the hardest one to have been hit by the ghetto in Japan, mainly due to many of the founders of the Japanese video game scene being male. This extended itself to the sheer idea that while a girl could play a game, she could never program one. This assumption was considered true until 1989, when the very first video game companies with female programmers started appearing and begun programming video games. The (Western) game industry is notorious for refusing to break out of the idea that all gamers are 18-25 year old heterosexual white men, at least if you're planning on making a non-casual title.
  • This trope and the confusion between light novels and visual novels (the latter has gameplay, the former doesn't) likely contribute to a significant amount of Periphery Hatedom for visual novel games and their players. Visual novels that have become successful, such as Ace Attorney and Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, will immediately attract a flock of players who insist that the games aren't actually visual novels, because visual novel games are a "girl" thing. Ironically, the two most successful visual novel franchises are centered on male playable characters.
    • This is horribly ironic, given that visual novels more prominently fall under All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles. It's hard to see how Fate/stay night can be considered a girl thing.
      • On the other hand - considerable amount of women (some surveys put it at around 40%) ARE interested in porn, but with almost all of it being shamelessly targeted towards men, they probably have a huge problem finding something to their tastes. Visual Novels, on the other hand, notoriously elevate Porn with Plot to actually decent stories, partially BECAUSE they apply romantic girly novel standards to them. What about numerous H-game Visual Novels getting "clean" rereleases/sequels because plot was good enough.

Western Animation

  • Somewhat inverted with Ben 10: Alien Force. The original show, despite having a female major character, it attracted a mostly male fanbase, so the sequel series gave also more spotlight for Gwen and added a love story between her and Kevin to try to appeal more to both genders, and although it got more girls to the show, it's still mostly preferred by boys, so the third sequel, Ben 10: Omniverse put Gwen and Kevin on a bus an focused in the wacky adevntures of Ben and his male alien partner, Ruk.
  • Many people think the main character of Magic Adventures of Mumfie is a girl due to his pink jacket, and claim it's a girls' show due to the fact. Even in France, the show was aimed at preschool girls and had the main character's gender changed to be female although the name was the same!
  • Care Bears is assumed as being for girls and very little boys despite being unisex.