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3 Dec, 2019 16:24

Barbie is sexist, Postman Pat is too male, and now the Mr. Men characters are in the WOKE firing line

Barbie is sexist, Postman Pat is too male, and now the Mr. Men characters are in the WOKE firing line

It seems a week doesn’t pass without someone digging up culture from the past and throwing in onto the pyre of politically incorrect things. Called ‘Mr. Men’, one famous British book and TV series is just asking for trouble.

The books were written by English author Roger Hargreaves in 1971, with the Little Miss series following 10 years later. The books have sold more than 100 million copies across 28 countries, featuring the popular characters Mr. Tickle, Little Miss Chatterbox, Mr. Rude, and many others.

Fast forward to ‘everything is offensive 2019’, and a student of feminist issues from Glasgow, Shelby Judge, shared a picture of the book on social media with the over-the-top heading “Mr Mansplain.”

The sensitive online warrior was outraged by the condescending tone of a scene in a book when two of the characters discuss the Scottish landmark the Forth Bridge. Little Miss Curious asks Mr. Clever what happened to bridges preceding the Forth Bridge. He explains that the title “comes from the River Forth”..... “What had happened to the first, second and third rivers?” she asks in return. Mr. Clever then sighs and thinks to himself it’s going to be “a very long day.” Bam, trigger!

The 24-year-old academic was aghast at a man depicted as explaining something to a woman – and feeling exasperated at having to do it: “They’re using Mr Men to enforce these ridiculous antiquated gender roles.

“It’s meant to be a funny joke, but then it’s always at the expense of women. It’s punching down. You don’t have to joke at the expense of anyone, there’s just no need.”

In a case of a Master’s feminist student looking for something that could only offend a person looking to be offended… social media fans of the popular children’s books didn’t agree.

Egmont UK, the publisher of the Mr. Men books, defended the series and dismissed the student’s sexism claims: “In Mr Men Scotland, the many Mr Men and Little Miss characters in the book get up to their usual antics. The book is a celebration of Scotland and its unique heritage sites.”

Mr. Men’s publisher is showing remarkable resilience when faced with woke-era revisionism – unlike other children’s classics. Barbie, launched in 1959, is being called cliche’ and sexist and unrepresentative of everyday women – and the doll’s maker has been incessantly introducing various inclusivity tokens in its product lines. Popular UK cartoon character Postman Pat has been dubbed “outdated” and dropped as the British Fire Service mascot – in a bid to encourage more women to join the force.

Also on rt.com Toy maker behind Barbie releases gender-neutral dolls

It’s not the first time Mr. Men characters have been in the woke spotlight, either – critics have highlighted negative character traits like Miss Bossy and Mr. Uppity (which is now a problematic word too, by the way) could be bad for young readers. But one person’s tired gender stereotypes are another’s children’s literacy classic.

There are currently 85 Mr. Men and Little Miss characters – maybe it’s time for Little Miss Snowflake?

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.