The 'sexist' tales of Peter Rabbit and Fantastic Mr Fox
Children's literature is inherently sexist because the majority of heroes are male, a study claims.
An analysis of 6,000 best-selling children’s books published during the past century concludes that male lead characters vastly outnumber female ones.
And in a conclusion that will baffle fans of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Anne of Green Gables and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, researchers said their findings indicated a ‘symbolic annihilation of women’.
Overall, 31 per cent of the best-sellers featured a female lead character, compared to 57 per cent featuring a male.
The remainder gave equal weight to a male and female protagonist, or had a gender-neutral character.
And in books where the characters are animals – such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Fantastic Mr Fox and Winnie-the-Pooh – leading and positive female roles are scarcer.
The likes of Jemima Puddle-Duck and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle had key roles in just 7.5 per cent of children’s books.
Male rabbits, bears, owls, dogs, foxes and toads were more prevalent – they were the lead characters in 23 per cent of books.
The study found that the imbalance has worsened since the turn of the 20th century, when the split was even.
In the early 1900s there was a move away from books about fairy-tales based on heroines such as Cinderella. But there were numerous strong female characters.
Nancy was the captain of the Amazon in Swallows and Amazons, and What Katy Did was a major series. Male characters such as Harry Potter and Alex Rider now dominate.
Sociologists who conducted the study for the journal Gender and Society expressed their surprise that there are fewer female heroines today than in 1900.
And they said a literary diet of too many Tiggers and Toads makes youngsters believe they are growing up in a man’s world.
Lead researcher Janice McCabe, of Florida State University, called the trend inherently sexist.
‘Books contribute to how children understand what is expected of women and men, and shape the way children will think about their own place in the world,’ she said.
‘The persistent pattern of disparity among animal characters may reveal a subtle kind of symbolic annihilation of women disguised through animal imagery.’
А если вспомнить, что 100% героев сказок гетеросексуальны (рудневский Винни-Пух не щитается), становится страшно за детей.