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gender specific baby books

(22 Posts)
entropygirl Sat 22-Oct-11 00:46:18

Hi Im new to the whole feminism thing - but I have a 4mo daughter and suddenly feel a tremendous pressure to let her grow up to be a person first and female somewhere a long long way down the list.

So I noticed all her books are gender specific, mostly completely unnecessarily. We have Sammy snail who goes on an adventure until he finds susie snail who has been waiting at home for him. We have something about monkeys in which again the protaganist is male. Thats not my pirate, in which the guys have scarfs, hats, eyepatches, cutlasses and beards and the token female pirate has a silky shirt. Even the hungry catepillar is male (although turning into a beautiful butterfly is not exactly a stereotypically male thing to do!).

So am I being over sensitive or does this stuff make a difference added up over the years?

Its not like I want feminist childrens books, just books where the person in driving the truck is equally likely to be male or female, as is the child playing house....

Kayano Sat 22-Oct-11 00:52:35

Well... I get most of that but just have to say...
The hungry caterpillar? Really?

Stay away from the tiger who came to tea.

entropygirl Sat 22-Oct-11 00:59:43

yeah I just dont even think catepillars have a gender...or snails for that matter although I may be wrong <am probably wrong>. I means what wrong with using 'it' for a caterpillar?

messyisthenewtidy Sat 22-Oct-11 02:08:43

entropygirl, it's because male is usually considered the default gender and if the character is female it is usually for a reason. And your DD is just a baby - early years media is usually the most balanced for gender distribution; it gets worse as they get older plus the gender stereotypes get more pronounced: pirates and adventure vs. princesses in pink and all that this entails. Girls are expected to watch films with male protagonists but not vice versa. It's depressing.

Here's a website with some stats and info geenadavisinstitute

wicketkeeper Sat 22-Oct-11 08:42:10

Fascinating messy. It's got me thinking about all the stages a film has to go through before it's released, and all the opportunities for getting the gender balance right or wrong in the process. First of all someone has to write the story - and they get to decide who is the lead character. Then there's the hurdle of getting the film made - if the producers don't think a story with a female lead will sell, it won't get made into a film in the first place. Then, once it's made, it has to be advertised - and if the advertisers think a film with a female lead won't appeal to boys, they won't aim it at boys. And because it isn't advertised with boys as the target (or one of the target) groups, they become less likely to want to see it. Or less likely to be able to say that they want to see it.

And so on and so forth.

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 22-Oct-11 11:24:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

entropygirl Sat 22-Oct-11 13:02:13

Thanks for the links. It just feels a bit like you are screaming into the void though....and everytime I see a supersoaker with only boys on the packaging I feel the despair growing....

So its nice to hear some other voices!

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 22-Oct-11 13:06:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

entropygirl Sat 22-Oct-11 13:41:40

As I said I have only just stumbled backwards into this realm...but I see that the first book gets a lot of air time on here! So I will certainly give it a go.

I am struggling to picture myself as a feminist though...I mean I feel just as sorry for boys forced into the boys toys and away from their natural nurturing instincts as I do for girls forced into the princess mold.

AlysWorld Sat 22-Oct-11 14:14:09

entropygirl - I nearly replied to this earlier but decided against it, but from your last post I'm thinking it would be a good thing.

You mention you're new to feminism and that you're struggling to see yourself as a feminist so I just wanted to mention a couple of things. My intention is to be helpful and friendly, so fingers crossed it comes across like that rather than picky

Re - "Its not like I want feminist childrens books, just books where the person in driving the truck is equally likely to be male or female, as is the child playing house...." A feminist book would be what you describe. It wouldn't be burning hairbands and kicking boys in the shins wink

And "I mean I feel just as sorry for boys forced into the boys toys and away from their natural nurturing instincts as I do for girls forced into the princess mold." That's a feminist thing to think too. Feminists don't like stereotypes of what is is to be a boy either. They are also part of the problem.

There is a lot of crap written about feminists, by people who want to discredit it. So don't believe too much of what you read about feminism by people who aren't feminists.

AlysWorld Sat 22-Oct-11 14:14:48

And PS I totally hear you, and you're not being oversensitive at all.

entropygirl Sat 22-Oct-11 15:22:06

Alys point taken! As long as feminism is about equal opportunities for all human beings then I will be proud to be a feminist.

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 22-Oct-11 16:06:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

rosy71 Sat 22-Oct-11 18:15:39

I've just had a quick look at my boys' books (they're 6 and 3) and the ones with female main characters are: Topsy and Tim; The Gruffalo's Child; the Little Miss series; a couple of the Thomas ones have female engines although in general the carriages tend to be female rather than the engines; Peppa Pig; Maisy Mouse. Ds1 has a book called "A New House for Mouse" where the mouse is a she. Both my boys love watching "The Sarah Jane Adventures" which I thnk is really good. The main character is a middle aged woman! Quite unusual for a children's programme, I think.

rosy71 Sat 22-Oct-11 18:38:24

Amazing Grace is great too.

FlipFantasia Sat 22-Oct-11 23:46:22

I like the Maisie books - my DS (19 months) loves them and she's driving vehicles, being a doctor, going to the pool, etc. Has a mixed gender group of friends too (albeit they're all animals).

I hadn't really thought about my son's toys but my nieces (4 & 7) were around last night for the first time in ages and both my DSis and DBIL commented on how much they were enjoying the "boy toys" eg hammering blocks, small wooden trucks/cars etc. I had honestly not ever considered the gender as we really try to just buy children's toys and clothes rather than anything boy specific eg we're getting a wooden kitchen as his Christmas present and I've only just realised that some of my friends consider this a girl's present hmm

messyisthenewtidy Sun 23-Oct-11 00:12:31

"Feminists don't like stereotypes of what is is to be a boy either. They are also part of the problem."

Just to second AlysWorld's response, as a feminist mum to a DS I spend a lot of my time combating stereotypes against boys. I think this idea that boys have to be tough all the time is damaging to them and I don't want my son to feel that he has to conform to this pressure. It shocks me the extent to which boys/men are presented as loveable but socially inept idiots who are unable to look after themselves. (and therefore need a woman to do it...BOOTS ad = classic example)

Feminism offers the only lens through which to look at the way ALL gender stereotypes are constructed by society and the media. Which is why it's so awesome. grin

entropygirl Sun 23-Oct-11 12:05:55

I think boys have the harder time...there was a heart breaking thread on AIBU about a mum trying to decide whether or not to buy her son the pram he wanted for his 7th birthday. It was about 50/50 people saying get him what he wants and let him be who he is and people saying its not normal for a boy to want a pram - get him a truck quick.

Right Im off to S'buries to ponder the mystery of why they feel the need to separate identical babygros into boys and girls.....

messyisthenewtidy Sun 23-Oct-11 21:03:49

I agree entropygirl, it is tough for boys in many ways- and the source of the problem is patriarchy pure and simple.

Why is it ok for a girl to be a tomboy, wear trousers, climb trees but not ok for a boy to wear pink, knit, play with dolls, be caring,etc? Because it is demeaning for a boy to be like a girl - hence the insult "you're so gay" or "don't be a girl" thrown at them. Misogyny, in an ironic twist, is acting against boys.

The princess and fairies pigeonhole is a pain in the arse but at least women and girls have a dialogue to confront the rigidity of gender constraints, thanks to second wave feminism. Boys have no such recourse and are still stuck in the blinkered patriarchal straight-jacket of masculinity.

Good luck with the shopping trip mystery!

rosy71 Sun 23-Oct-11 22:36:33

we're getting a wooden kitchen as his Christmas present and I've only just realised that some of my friends consider this a girl's present
My boys have a playhouse in the garden with a toy kitchen in and both love playing in it.

FlipFantasia Mon 24-Oct-11 23:02:15

Rosy good to hear smile. Once we've got the space we'll also get a playhouse!

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 25-Oct-11 09:34:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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