A PhD student has hit out at Mr Men books because a female character was unable to grasp the simple concept of the Forth Bridge
Shelby Judge, 24, read a conversation between Mr Clever and Little Miss Curious in which he sighs when Little Miss Curious struggles to understand.
Ms Judge, who studied women’s studies for her masters, said that he should be re-named Mr Mansplain.
In the book, which she found in the gift shop at Stirling Castle, Mr Clever tells Little Miss Curious that the bridge is named after the river that runs underneath it.
She asks what happened to the River First, River Second and River Third.
Ms Judge’s reaction was to say ‘eugh’ when she read the conclusion of the story: ‘Mr Clever sighed. It was going to be a long day.’
Ms Judge says that such anecdotes teaches children that ‘girls are stupid and it’s a man’s job to explain things to them.’
She said: ‘The quote “It was going to be a long day” tells girls that men are exasperated with you for existing.’
Ms Judge, who is now studying English Literature, said: ‘They’re using Mr Men to enforce these ridiculous antiquated gender roles.
‘It’s not so obvious, because it’s meant to be a funny joke but then it’s always at the expense of women – it’s punching down.
‘You should punch up and attack the people above – like politicians or world structures – or you can go on an equal playing field. You don’t have to joke at the expense of anyone, there’s just no need.
‘Why can we not give kids stories that inspire them rather than punch down? This was in a Scottish heritage site and was about Scotland, why did that have to be included in that?
‘They don’t need to rely on such tired gender stereotypes for a children’s story about Scotland. Why is that what you want to give as part of your souvenirs?
‘It’s the very definition of a micro-aggression. Some might say “why are you making a big deal of this very small thing?”
‘But it’s an example of these tiny things that build up to create a whole patchwork quilt of sexist iconography that every child of any gender is going to internalise.’
Shelby said she would welcome the introduction of Mr Mansplain as a satirical character in the Mr Men universe.
Shelby said: ‘I would actually really like Mr Mansplain to be a character if, of course, he was mocked for his condescending manner.’
A spokesperson for Mr Men publishers Egmont UK said: ‘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.’
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