The latest C-Poll is closed. You can read all about it here!

May 7, 2011

PC police raid Pooh's Corner

A Florida State University sociologist frets that children's literature is insufficiently diverse, as Fox News reports May 6:
A comprehensive study of traditional children’s book characters has determined that Pooh Corner may be rife with gender inequality.

Dr. Janice McCabe, a sociologist at Florida State University, examined nearly 6,000 children’s books between 1900 and 2000 and determined the stories have a definitive gender bias and a disproportionate representation of genders.

“We found that males are represented more frequently than females in the titles and the central characters in the book,” McCabe told Fox News Radio.

[...] “I had kind of expected that books would start off in 1900 being unequal and become more equal over time,” she said. 

“We were surprised by the historical patterns and by the animals. The fact that the animals were the most unequal and even in the 1990s there were still two male animals to every one female animal.” 
I'm wondering... are there any barriers to women in general, or feminists in particular, getting their children's stories published?  I'm not aware of any. What's stopping them?

So, what's the real problem here?  Obviously the parents are the problem:
“A lot of times this is invisible to people,” she said, encouraging parents to pay attention to gender when selecting books and reading material for their children. “I’m not saying they shouldn’t read books about men and boys,” she said. “Instead, just think about the gender of particular books and be aware of it.” 
Apparently, Mom (who typically makes the purchase decisions regarding children's books) and Dad are still trapped in the roles defined for them by our oppressive patriarchal culture, and are thus blind to the injustice of the status quo.

Hey, let's try a wacky little experiment: If children's book writers publish a bunch of "gender-balanced" books that are enjoyable and don't have an obvious agenda, maybe the public will reward them by buying the books.

I wonder why Dr. McCabe didn't think of this?


tigger23505 said...

One suspects that McCabe is in a prescriptive mode not a descriptive mode.

I find myself wondering if it really matters in the long term. I mean how many of these stories will have the staying power of Shakespeare or Milton?

JoeFromSidney said...

I recently attended a science fiction convention, at which one of the panels was on writing "young adult" novels. The panelists stated that girls like to read books with either boys or girls as protagonists; boys prefer to read about boys only. Books about boys, then, are a response to the market. So there!