Monday, September 20, 2004

Closet feminist

This morning I took down about 20 books from my son's shelf. Disney books. Actually they're hand-me-downs from my cousin, and I'm always glad to get free books cause Miguel devours them like crazy. But a few from the Disney series made me raise my eyebrows. Let me quote from one called "The Ugly Stepsisters":

The Prince watched them and wondered. How could his kind, beautiful Cinderella have such mean and ugly stepsisters?

And two pages later:

"I wonder how long they will stay," said the Prince. "They don't seem to be very happy, even here."
"If only they each had a husband as nice as you," said Cinderella. "Then they would be as happy as I am!"

Hello! Calling Margaret Sanger! Gloria Steinem!

Well what did I expect; it's based on a fairy tale, isn't it? But then this book has so many ridiculous stereotypes that I had to explain to Miguel that it wasn't the right thing to print in a book. I was actually bothered.

Of course, of course. Don't blame the cousin who gave the books. After all she did give the seemingly inexhaustible "365 Bedtime Stories," a lifesaver when your child negotiates for 5 stories before bedding down every night. And don't forget "Richard Scarry's Best Year Ever," everybody's all-time favorite, guaranteed to elicit more questions than answers because of the details in the illustration.

But because of a politically incorrect Disney book, circa 1986, this feminist is coming out of the closet. Uh, just for a while. Long enough to explain to my son that just because a woman is ugly, it doesn't mean that she's mean as well. Well the part about needing a husband to be happy I didn't even want to discuss.

So at 4 am there I was, closet feminist slash neurotic mom quietly stashing Disney books into a box, hoping to protect my son's mind from misguided thinking. Not to mention that it was a lot of bad writing.

Which leads me to the question: Do you know what your child is reading? Sometimes we're so quick to accept something because it has some "seal" of approval. So mommies and daddies, beware of Disney Corp, purveyors of wrong thinking and bad taste! What bugs me is that they had the cheek to call those books "educational." (Oh well, at least they've improved in the last 18 years.)

So does that mean that I don't intend bring Miguel to Hong Kong Disneyland someday? Oh hogwash, of course I'll bring him!

1 comment:

poNg said...

wow! hindi ko alam ito ah!? when i was a young i used to read these kind of books too, like your son i devoured as much 'children's story as i can. i think many of us has been exposed to these Disney fairytales, perhaps this is why most people are superficial. what do you think?