Children’s media use cuddly animals to reinforce ‘racist’ and ‘socially dominant norms,’ researcher says
Sarah Boesveld | 13/06/06
Last Updated: 13/06/06 6:53 PM ET
More than 7,000 academics are gathered in Victoria, B.C., this week for the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, presenting papers on everything from the errant lessons of Grey’s Anatomy to Justin Trudeau’s political brand power. In this week-long series, the National Post showcases some of the most interesting research.
Parents who read their kids stories about happy, human-like animals like Franklin the Turtle or Arthur at bedtime are exposing their kids to racism, materialism, homophobia and patriarchal norms, according to a paper presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
Most animals portrayed in children’s books, songs and on clothing send a bad message, according to academics Nora Timmerman and Julia Ostertag: That animals only exist for human use, that humans are better than animals, that animals don’t have their own stories to tell, that it’s fine to “demean” them by cooing over their cuteness. Perhaps worst of all, they say, animals are anthropomorphized to reinforce “socially dominant norms” like nuclear families and gender stereotypes.
Good Lord, just imagine if these fruitcakes discovered Frog and Toad, Dr. Suess and Beatrix Potter!