Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tales from my sickbed

The last couple of weeks has seen the worst health I've had for a while, hence the very light blogging.

I'm glad to see, however, that Stephen has been keeping us all challenged and entertained with some excellent stuff - getting into the Daley Dozen two days in a row is quite an achievement. Being recognised by one of the UK's top bloggers as having produced one of the best blog postings that day is quite something.

Also, I hope that Jennie's recent spate of postings means she's back to blogging regularly. I've missed her and her posts really cheered me yesterday.

I am also constantly amazed at the many creative ways Andrew Reeves finds to motivate Lib Dem activists and persuade them to help in elections. See how he's trying to attract us to Glasgow North East.

I was feeling miserable enough yesterday without having to read the rather traumatic reading book Anna had been given from school. She was quite upset by it and when I got her to read it to me, I wasn't surprised. In very simple terms, it's the story of a young girl's abuse and murder, accidental or not, at the hands of her stepmother. An escalating series of incidents to which the girl's father turns a blind eye "for his own comfort" culminates in the girl being tied with vines to a tree at the bottom of a ravine for failing to watch a cooking pot. The ravine then fills with water and the little girl drowns.

Anna's well used to my feminist rants about the portrayal of women in children's books, particularly any Disney Princess story you might care to mention. I took her to a fabulous play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe a few years ago which smashed the Disney myth. The heroines decided they didn't need men or marriage to find fulfilment in life or sort their problems out and did it all themselves.

She also knows that I get furious about the portrayal of stepmothers as wicked, child abusing women. You have it in Cinderella and Snow White and all over children's literature. In the world of Disney mothers are generally absent, or dead, and the women who take their place are pure evil. I really hope that there are no girls in her class whose fathers are in a new relationship - that book will probably scare them senseless.

I accept that as she gets older, she's going to have to read much more challenging material, covering difficult concepts. I'm not trying to wrap her in cotton wool - I mean, she read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a book which scared me as an adult when I first read it, well over a year ago. I just felt that this choice from school was a bit beyond the pale for 10 year olds.


BellgroveBelle said...

That sounds like quite a depressing reading book!

My brother was doing film studies, and wasted away some hours thinking about families in Disney films. He then wasted more time telling me about it. It's not just stepmothers, but whole families that are a bit dysfunctional in Disney films and this covers the anthropomorphic ones too.

To add to Snow White and Cinderella, you could go with Pinnochio (no mother, and not a real boy to begin with!), Dumbo (no father figure, mother locked up), Bambi (mother gets shot, distant father), Lady and the Tramp, the Little Mermaid (strict father, no mother), Beauty and the Beast (no mother), Aladdin (no mother) and the Lion King (father killed). Even in Pixar's Toy Story, there's no father.

I'm not really sure what this proves one way or the other, but it's almost interesting. I've only seen wee bits of the newer Disney films, so I don't know if the female characters are getting any better!

Jennie Rigg said...

I'm hoping to blog a bit more regularly, yes.

I'd talk to the school about that book. Seriously. Be very calm and courteous, and ask them their reasons for supplying it. Detail the reaction that Anna had to the book, and tell them your reasons for concern. See what they say.

Stephen Glenn said...

Even more so when the two Daley Dozens were in fact both truncated Half Dozens.

Hope you are feeling better soon. I may have to bring round more Green and Black to ensure.


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