No, ‘killjoy gender activists’ are NOT trying to ban ‘Dear Zoo’ for sexism.

By January 23, 2019 Children's Literature, News

Dear Zoo has been under the spotlight recently thanks to two right-wing news sources wrongly interpreting a blog post by Let Toys Be Toys.

The Daily Mail Online and The Sun Newspaper overreacted to an article discussing gender bias in children’s literature and responded without reading the articles fully. Let Toys Be Toys wrote a comprehensive report on studies showing the over-representation of male characters in children’s books, oddly those male characters included non-humans, characters who should not really need a gender at all. Animals (as in Dear Zoo), robots, aliens etc are automatically assigned the ‘male’ gender as standard. The bias, as pointed out by Let Toys Be Toys, appears to be unconscious so, by raising awareness of the discrepancies (conscious or not), gender representation in children’s literature can be addressed.

Anyone who read the original blog post by Let Toys Be Toys knows that at no point did they call to ‘ban’ the book but were merely pointing out unconscious bias of which we are all guilty or unaware.

A small addendum to the end of the Daily Mail article, added days after they had already stirred the pot with their reactionary right-wing spoon, explained no ban was actually called for. A quick scan of the article also shows at no point does the Let Toys Be Toys writer moan about ‘sexism’ or accuse Dear Zoo of being sexist- another issue the Mail and Sun newspapers only used to stir up fauxtrage in their readers.

Pointing out gender bias is not a bad thing, in fact it would be wonderful for all children to be represented in their storybooks- male villains shouldn’t outnumber female villains, and human and non-human male characters shouldn’t outnumber female. There should be a balance in literature: who would argue against that except supporters-of-the-patriarchal-status-quo, shit-stirring hate-mongers?

Let Toys Be Toys is definitely worth a follow on social media, show them some support by reading their articles and give them some love after all this hate they have had directed at them by two right-wing ‘news’ sources.

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