April 8, 2009

Gender roles

From the blog Sociological Images: Seeing Is Believing:

Wow. I saw this a couple days ago and was hoping it was a joke. While the post received clarification for the context of this illustation (via comments), it's still quite shocking. A cartoonist and humorist named Whitney Darrow intended this page and the book it belonged to (I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Girl!) to be a satire of gender roles. Phew. But wait...

Intention and reality can be glaringly different.
A commentor, Ellie, quoted some reviews of the book:

From School Libraries, published by the American Association of School Libraries, 1969: ”This warmly humorous book makes everybody glad they are what they are.”

From The Horn Book Magazine, 1970: ”He’s glad he’s a boy and she’s glad she’s a girl. In this warmly humorous book, they tell each other why and conclude that the best reason of all is — because they need each other!”

From the “Books for Children” section in Childhood Education, 1970: ”Simple drawings with line captions designed to help the young child discover his or her appropriate sex role.”

That is just nuts. Three resources librarians use and rely on to assess if materials are worth purchasing seem to have brushed over the satire, embracing the content as serious. How often does this mistake happen - not only in reviewing, but in cataloging? I've been to more than one library that has Borat's Guide to Kazakhstan in the travel section instead of with the humor. I would be devestated if a child picked up I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Girl in the non-fiction section amongst books like Amazing you: getting smart about your private parts and What to tell your children about sex. Thoughts? Examples?

To end with an upbeat thought ( because I always feel inclined to :) ), it's pretty great to see blogs use their medium to the fullest. Before any comments were added, the image was without author and without context. Readers were able to share their knowledge and complete the thought. What a perfect example of what this tool can do for information.


Rachel's Thread said...

i thought it said "girls are mermaids" ... (not metermaids)

Kelly said...

Oh wow. It would be fun to come up with a list of books that could be shelved in the wrong place like this one and Borat's book. Not that I can think of anything else myself ;-) but it would still be fun to try!

Anonymous said...

All joking aside, did a publishing company actually pay money to have this stuff reprinted and distributed?

It looks like it's a pamphlet targeted at Dad's from the 1950's.

jessie said...

that's incredible, crazy that was still happening so blatantly in the 70s, I like the bottom row the best.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.