Steven Universe – How a Kid Show Depicts: LGBTQ Representation, Consent, & Mental Health
Now that the Ringling Bros. will soon be taking its last bow (and good riddance, let the animals go), let’s look at the newest “greatest show on earth”, Steven Universe.
Steven Universe is so important for kids today, it handles topics like: LGBTQ representation, mental health, consent, and abuse. IN A KID SHOW FOR CHRIST SAKE! I talked about this a little bit in my review of Steven Universe’s kid’s book The Answer, but now I’d like to take a more in depth look at how the show handles these topics. So, let’s put
All of these things center around relationships, whether wanted or unwanted, stable or unstable. People affecting each other’s lives. And everyone can relate to that. How does the show talk about such things on a regular basis? That would be the concept of fusion.
Fusion = Sex
It can literally be like a physical incarnation of that stupid over-used saying “When a mommy and a daddy love each other very much, they make a baby and blah blah blah” but it’s for lesbians LMAO! Which is just very fucking clever. I see what you did there Sugar!
Ok, so it doesn’t just equal sex. Because if you think about it that way, Steven has now had sex with Amethyst (who’s like his sister, gag), and might eventually have “sex” with Garnet and Pearl who are like his mothers. Fucking gross. So we can’t look at sex as fusion’s only objective. Fusion is a relationship. And because relationships come with positives and negatives, it opens the door to talk about those with kids.
Let’s look at Ruby and Sapphire. Though they never say any words pertaining to LGBTQ, we know that’s what is happening because relationships go outside of words. What we feel when we are engaging with people transcend just gay or straight, it’s fundamentally being human. And showing that to children is really important when it comes to showing queer people, in this case, lesbian space rocks, on TV. It strips down the words, and just shows people acting as people. Rupphire’s story is presented to us as a love story, a fair tale even. They even have a whole episode and book talking about their lovescapades!!! The two meet, and they see something in the other they never thought possible. And they change each other for the better. Figuratively, as in how real relationships go. And literally, in their incarnation of Garnet.
Steven Universe uses this to talk about the animosity towards LGBTQ people by showing the Homeworld Gems’ reaction to their relationship. The Homeworld Gems clearly state:
But the show makes sure to tell kids, that yes, there might be people out there that think like this, but love is love and there’s nothing wrong with that! Steven Universe also shows someone who is bigoted coming around to change their mind with Garnet and Peridot’s relationship. At first, Peridot, being a Homeworld gem, saw fusion as she did on Homeworld:
Peridot only changes her mind after interacting with someone different then her norm. She is getting to know and understand Garnet’s point of view, and realizing that someone can be different, but that doesn’t make them or what they do bad. Peridot even going as far as to having the thought of wanting to try.
But deciding maybe this isn’t for her right now. And Garnet respects it immediately!
Which Brings us into the next topic of discussion and that is consent. Which is an EXTREMELY significant topic to discuss with children. Especially in a time when kids aren’t really taught this in school. This show gives you both sides to the coin. The first being if someone says ‘no’, and you keep persisting without respecting their wishes, that can make them feel uncomfortable. And we get that with Stevonnie when they meet..ugh, Kevin. We get ugh-Kevin, pushing up on Stevonnie when they have clearly stated they don’t want anything to do with him. And, ew, who would? It’s never, ever “Kevin time”!
And we can see in a later episode, that this really left both Steven and Connie feeling uneasy and very violated. Steven going as far as to say he hates him. AND STEVEN DOESN’T HATE ANYONE!
It teaches kids that we need to respect other’s boundaries. The other side of that coin, is if consent is disregarded altogether. By the time we meet the cluster, we understand what fusion is to the gems. It takes two willing participants, and they combine in an act of trust. So we see Garnet’s reaction to it, and it is severe.
They were not asked. No one was given a choice. And that isn’t right. It’s a very simple concept – consent. But for some reason, it is not common sense. It needs to be taught, it needs to be heard. Steven Universe even goes as far as to have a forced fusion turn into a monster-like thing, making a physical representation of something negative. WHICH IS TOO FREAKIN’ COOL to me as a writer!
Kids are now growing up knowing consent from a very young age. And I thank this show for doing that.
And it doesn’t stop there. What if you have been in an abusive relationship or have been through trauma? The show deals with ways to cope with mental health as well. We see with Lapis and Japser’s relationship that it was a two-way abusive one.
Steven Universe shows how a person could feel after being in an abusive relationship. How you might even feel that you miss it. But it is never too late to say no, and that you shouldn’t have to feel lost, or hurt. If it doesn’t feel right to you, then it isn’t right.
And when you have those negative thoughts pop up, the show gives you coping mechanisms to help you through tough times. I’m 23 years old and I still use it!
You take a moment to think of just flexibility, love and trust.
I am not sure if Sugar and her team started out with the plan of putting everything that has gone into this show, or if it just developed over time. Either way I am glad it exists. Steven Universe, and a lot of kids shows today (Gravity Falls, Loud House, etc.), are amazing for kids. They teach lessons that kids can take on with them throughout life. Hopefully these show will help bring up a generation of more accepting, more thoughtful human beings.
Thanks for reading! I leave you with this note of wisdom:
GARNET IS BEST MOM!