Day 70. Today we read The First Slodge which starts out sort of like a creation myth, then becomes about sharing and getting along, and that's fine. The pictures are cutesy, but I didn't like it for one simple reason - it started out with "she" and I thought, great! A female character (we have had a disproportionately large number of male main characters in these books). And what happens? When she encounters a male character, she does something greedy, ends up in a fix and he SAVES HER because she is "his". And then they hook up. Sigh.
Look ... I know these are kids books, but we are constantly wondering why we have such problems getting true gender equality, and I believe it's because these gender ideas are so pervasive that they show up everywhere, right from the earliest experiences. Men save women from their own actions. Men exert a type of ownership over women. When I read large numbers of children's books and find a disproportionate number of them seem to be about male characters, and then they reinforce these kinds of gender specific ideas, it makes little explosions go off in my mind. I don't think you can claim to have messages about sharing or getting along, and then say other implicit messages like these don't matter. They do.
The fact that I'm reading these to my son makes no difference - he should not be given the impression that the world is disproportionately about males any more than little girls should. It's been a long day in a long week, so you get a rant today. Sorry about that. But I'm a woman who spent much of her life working in male-dominated environments and let me tell you - the first thing you need is to really believe that you belong there and that you're no different from anyone else. This type of book doesn't help that.
Master A's verdict: Showed no interest at all in the pictures or the words - probably because most of the colours are muted and there's no rhythm or sounds that interest him at this age.
- Title: The First Slodge
- Author/Illustrator: Jeanne Willis / Jenni Desmond
- Source: Borrowed from the local library
- Publisher: Tiger Tales
What's on tomorrow? Another library pick.