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
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.