Mr. Men And Little Miss Children’s Books Accused Of Being Sexist!
First Thomas The Tank Engine was under fire for being politically incorrect (remember the Fat Controller) and now the Mr. Men children’s books are being called sexist because of the message they’re sending to young girls.
A study has shown that books such as Little Miss Scatterbrain, Mr Tickle, Little Miss Late, Little Miss Bossy, Mr Uppity and Mr Lazy often portray girls in the storyline as ‘damsels in distress.’
Researchers at Britain’s University of Lincoln conducted the study as part of an investigation into the portrayal of gender in children’s books. They found that out of 81 books from the Mr Men series that were aimed at children aged two and over – female characters were usually saved by male characters in more than 50 per cent of stories, while male Mr Men characters only required saving in about 30 per cent of stories.
The female characters also contribute far less dialogue with the man averaging up to 12 more words a book. The study also found that certain storylines did nothing to break gender stereotypes within society.
For example in Little Miss Late, the character ‘managed to find herself the perfect job’ which was working for Mr. Lazy!
“She now works for Mr Lazy! She cooks and cleans for him.”
Dr Michelle Smith, a senior lecturer in literary studies at Monash University says: “While the Mr Men stories might be very simplistic, children’s literature is where we train children about what to think and believe so they are crucially important. If most stories are about boys, it tells boys and girls that girls are less important. If most stories about girls show them as passive and in need of rescue, while boys do all of the exciting, important activities then it endorses a sense that girls are in some way inferior and incapable.”
The findings were met with mixed reactions. Many said the findings were just another example of political correctness gone mad and that they should leave kid’s classics like Mr. Men well enough alone.
While this may be true, isn’t it a little worrying to have books out there aimed at children where female characters are more passive? Where the storylines involve them being saved by men? Or that working for their husband is considered a perfect job? While this study just gives us one person’s opinion it certainly is food for thought.