You probably thought the characters in your favorite children’s books were just adorable cuddly bears and bunnies and a reminder of when things were safe and cozy and warm and you didn’t have to work for a living and instead got read books before you were tucked in at night. But…no. They are something far more malevolent. They are, according to a recent study, “inherently sexist,” and so is children’s literature, because the majority of the heroes in these books are male (not that it’s their fault, exactly). The Telegraph reports that an analysis of 6,000 best-selling kids’ books published in the last 100 years found that male lead characters “vastly outnumber” female ones.
So for every Alice, Dorothy, Charlotte, and Anne (all human girls, by the way), there are Peter Rabbits, Fantastic Mr. Foxes, Curious Georges, Cliffords, Paddington Bears, Cats in the Hat, Winnie-the-Poohs (and Piglet, and Eeyore, too)…Even the hungry little caterpillar is a dude!
Overall, 31 per cent of the best-sellers featured a female lead character, compared to 57 per cent featuring a male.
According to lead researcher Janice McCabe, of Florida State University,
“The persistent pattern of disparity among animal characters may reveal a subtle kind of symbolic annihilation of women disguised through animal imagery.”
Of course, times have changed in the past 100 years. There are plenty of books about princesses! And, of course, Pat the Bunny.