The 'Sexist' Tales of Peter Rabbit and Fantastic Mr Fox

Daily Mail (London), May 5, 2011 | Go to article overview

The 'Sexist' Tales of Peter Rabbit and Fantastic Mr Fox


Byline: Kate Loveys

CHILDREN'S literature is inherently sexist because the majority of heroes are male, a study claims.

An analysis of 6,000 best-selling children's books published during the past century concludes that male lead characters vastly outnumber female ones.

And in a conclusion that will baffle fans of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Anne of Green Gables and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, researchers said their findings indicated a 'symbolic annihilation of women'.

Overall, 31 per cent of the best-sellers featured a female lead character, compared to 57 per cent featuring a male.

The remainder gave equal weight to a male and female protagonist, or had a gender-neutral character.

And in books where the characters are animals - such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Fantastic Mr Fox and Winnie-the-Pooh - leading and positive female roles are scarcer.

The likes of Jemima Puddle-Duck and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle had key roles in just 7.5 per cent of children's books. Male rabbits, bears, owls, dogs, foxes and toads were more prevalent - they were the lead char-acters in 23 per cent of books.

The study found that the imbalance has worsened since the turn of the 20th century, when the split was even. …

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