How about Lit­tle Miss Had Enough, Lit­tle Miss Give Us a Break, and Lit­tle Miss Re­ally, Are You Kid­ding?

Sex­ist stereo­typ­ing so dam­ag­ing in child­hood

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - OPINION -

Here we go again, I thought, as I watched a de­bate on Good Morn­ing Bri­tain. MP Emily Thorn­berry was say­ing that she thought the Mr Men books were sex­ist

and played to gen­der stereo­types.

Piers Mor­gan, who she was de­bat­ing with, was in full-on eye-rolling mode. So was I. Some­times we are all far too sen­si­tive and eas­ily of­fended. It all sounded ridicu­lous. Then I looked into it. And I changed my tune.

The char­ac­ters were be­ing dis­cussed af­ter a study found that Roger Har­g­reaves’ books por­tray women as less pow­er­ful and play to

gen­der stereo­types. Emily Thorn­berry’s point was that by call­ing girls in the se­ries

“Lit­tle Miss”, it makes them some­how “less” than the men. I think she has a point.

Why not just “Miss”? It’s cer­tainly not the case with all chil­dren’s books, but of­ten male char­ac­ters are su­per­heroes, while girls are princesses. Males tend to be do-ers, whereas the girls are about

look­ing pretty. And all of this is plant­ing seeds early on in life of what is ex­pected of chil­dren.

Of course, the Mr Men se­ries was writ­ten decades ago.

Times were dif­fer­ent, at­ti­tudes have changed. But Roger’s son now writes up­dated ver­sions

of the books. There’s a Mr Hip­ster and a Lit­tle Miss Re­al­ity TV. Yes, re­ally!

The male char­ac­ter is cool, the fe­male char­ac­ter sounds like a fame-ob­sessed air­head.

Lit­tle Miss Fab­u­lous is de­fined by her “long and lux­u­ri­ous silky hair”. Mean­while, Mr Ad­ven­ture is a thrill-seeker. The girls are about looks, the boys are much more go-get­ting. Can we look for­ward to a Lit­tle Miss-og­yny?

Maybe some peo­ple think we are guilty of judg­ing books, TV pro­grammes and films from the past a lit­tle too harshly.

That even hap­pened when Friends moved to Net­flix and a whole new gen­er­a­tion saw it for the first time. There was crit­i­cism that it was ho­mo­pho­bic, fat-sham­ing and sex­ist.

Peo­ple were view­ing the much-loved com­edy with dif­fer­ent at­ti­tudes. And you know what? It’s a good thing. We’re mov­ing on and at­ti­tudes that might once have been openly ac­cepted, aren’t any longer.

I’m con­vinced the lit­tle seeds planted early in life have an ef­fect on how boys and girls see each other and the world in gen­eral.

As I al­ways say, if you can see it you can be it.

We need to teach all of our kids, from a young age, that the sky can be the limit. Not just boys.

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