Scorned Feminists

Subject: Scorned Feminists
From: John Gear <catalyst -at- PACIFIER -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 15 Mar 1996 09:57:00 PST

John Russell writes:

>I recently obtained a book for my 2-year old called "The Little Train
>that Could." I hadn't read this book in many years. As I read it, I
>noticed (for christ sake, I was knocked over the head with it) that all the
>friendly and helpful trains were female and all the unfriendly, rude, and
>unhelpful trains were male.

>I am so angered and offended by this portrayal that I can only read this
>book satirically to my son, pointing out at every opportunity that the
>female trains are "scorned feminists" who are "trying to make a point."

Yes, except that suggesting that "scorned feminists" had anything to do with
that particular fable is hilarious. What sex was the Little Train? If
memory serves, LT was unquestionably "male." The protagonist, the one who
absorbs the message that determination is everything, who accomplishes--not
a girl train, for sure!

And whom, if not feminists, shall we thank for the kind of analysis that you
did (noticing the stereotypes being taught in a kids' book)? 30 years ago
your analysis would have been considered bizarre and you along with it.
Today, in general, literate people are much more sensitive to the hidden
curriculum in storybooks (teaching children their sex roles). Anti-feminists
aren't interested in that sort of analysis.

Of course, LTTC sells the idea you noted (that men are gruff, social morons,
and women are sensitive to the feelings of others). That's what kids'
stories do--socialize kids.

As Niel Postman says, "Remember, all TV is educational TV." (It's teaching
something, especially when it claims not to be.) Same holds for books,
movies, magazines etc.

In addition to the sex roles, LTTC was also intended to teach another
important message. LTTC was a classic fable for the United States of the
early 20th C. because it sold the Nightingale/Carnegie (and many others)
message of the "Power of Positive Thinking" (also known as PMA or Positive
Mental Attitude).

John Gear (catalyst -at- pacifier -dot- com)

The Bill of Rights--the ORIGINAL Contract with America
Accept no substitutes. Beware of Imitations. Insist on the Genuine Articles.

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