Aside from the flash back to 80s pop music (there was a plethora of tunes to choose from on this subject), the topic today involves gender tropes and stereotypes.
The media is huge in its attempt to solidify the gender stereotypes, the ones that state women should be demure, caring, fragile, pretty and basically stay in the kitchen. And it’s just as firm in its attempt to make sure that boys understand that they have to be strong, independent, adventurous and the bread winners of the family. There is no better example of this brain washing, or better way to start than at the preschool and elementary school ages. And Scholastic Books, publishers of books and distributors of many that I enjoyed as a child, has taken the steps to make sure this stereotype continues.
They’ve published a book called How To Survive Anything, with the twist that there is a book for boys and a book for girls. The boys book is rather humourous as it teaches how to survive some basic things like falling from a great height to what to do if you get a broken bone. Then it turns the corner to teach how to survive shark attacks, bear attacks, snake bites and other things of that nature (see what I did there?).
The girls only book is quite different. Nowhere in its pages will you find a how to in surviving a car crash, but you’ll find out how to survive a BFF cat fight. Or a fashion disaster. How about what to do if you’re suddenly famous? The book covers that too.
So, I guess the author firmly believes that when a girl finds herself in a situation against, oh, I don’t know, against a shark then the shark obviously looks at her and says…
“Sorry, you’re a girl. My bad. Not my natural food source. I’m gonna go over here now.”
Which is complete crap because sharks don’t do that (nor do snakes or lions or bears or anything else in nature that CAN KILL YOU).
But it goes a lot further than that as it’s a stigma to firmly entrench, to keep girls from being adventurous (or at least, telling girls just exactly what their adventures could be, like shopping!). Girls can grow up to be:
- Fighter pilots
- Police officers
- Trauma surgeons
- Large animal veterinarians
- Fire fighters
- Rock climbers
- Backwoods backpackers
- Sky divers
- Race car drivers
- Rally car drivers
- Auto mechanics
- Newspaper editors
- War zone television reporters
- Astronauts (or even cosmonauts)
- Submarine commanders
And yes, they could even be pretty. Girls can do anything. Books shouldn’t just do things like this and try and separate things into gender specifics. Because, heaven forbid that boys should need to know how to avoid a fashion disaster.
- Girl, 15, Has Close Encounter With Shark Off Catalina Coast (losangeles.cbslocal.com)