language equity

Sarah L. Pallas spallas at
Thu Nov 28 20:48:30 EST 1996

In article <Deborah_Britt-2611961337140001 at>
Deb Britt, Deborah_Britt at writes:
>The other thing that bothers me is that in kid's books the overwhelming
>majority of characters are male, not just the main characters, but the
>supporting casts of bears, ducks, bunnies, dogs, mice etc. are all
>referred to as "he".  Where are the females?  Same holds true for
>cartoons-[....]  I try to make a conscious effort to broaden my sons'
>view of the world.  I look for books with female characters, and when we
>see an animal of indeterminate gender I often refer to it as she. 

This has been a problem for us too, children's literature and even
clothing are very gender-biased.  My 3 yr old son has already decided
it's better to be a boy, that women can't play football (well, they
DON'T, so maybe he's right?) or be farmers, or even doctors (despite the
fact that his pediatrician is a woman).  We counter this strenuously- he
doesn't watch network TV, we try to address cartoon characters by both
gender-specirfic pronouns, when we see an animal outside, we call it
'she' unless we can tell otherwise, we refer to firefighters and police
officers, not firemen and policemen, we constantly point out women in
male-dominated careers, but it seems it's all to no avail.  He plays in a
very boy-like way, and has no interest in the several interesting dolls
we've bought him.  The culture has defeated us!!  It's very frustrating!!

Sarah Pallas

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