The Mr Men and Little Miss book series by Roger Hargreaves have come under some scrutiny lately with them being labelled ‘Sexist’ by some researchers, but are they really sexist or just a story series made up, without the author having the idea of it one day being labelled with the problems the modern day likes to throw at books and authors.
I read the Mr Men and Little Miss books as a child and I have also read them to my children, now I admit I sometimes find them a little boring and I actually prefer the television cartoon show of the book BUT I have never ever in my life thought that they were sexist. Maybe it’s due to my naïve nature, or maybe it just never occurred to me that they had been portrayed a certain way. But then if we start labelling these books as sexist then what about other kids books? Horrid Henry? Maybe it’s sexist to moan about Moody Margaret or Perfect Peter, are those not stereotyped characters? You have the perfect blonde haired, angelic child who can do no wrong, where as Henry is dark-haired and wild… Is that not being offensive to dark haired and light haired people? No, it’s a story, a book series that kids enjoy and in my eyes, so is Mr Men and the Little Miss.
We as authors quite often go for a stereotypical character for our stories. Why? Because the readers can connect with them easier, they can envision them a lot easier and they might even know someone like that they can relate the character to. But some of us authors like to break those stereotypes to. In my Alone series my main character Stacie is a Blonde haired young teenage girl, who is not a dumb blonde or ditzy, she is strong and brave and will do anything in her power to protect the people she loves. Some people could have moaned that I didn’t go for a Brunette strong willed teen which so many stories have but again its that stereotype. The world is full of them and you cannot get rid of them, it just happens.
But getting back to the Mr Men, you have some pretty good stereotypes there:
- Little Miss Bossy – Bosses people around.
- Mr Lazy – Doesn’t lift a finger.
- Mr Uppity – Is a rich man and not a rich woman.
- Little Miss Greedy – Eats too much and is showing the problem with chubby, over eating women.
- Little Miss Scatterbrain – Forgetful woman, because men never forget anything.
- Mr Greedy – See men can be fat too.
- Mr Forgetful – Oh wait, they do forget stuff too.
- Mr Strong – Because ya know, women are weak.
Although there are a lot of Mr Men characters, there are some Little Miss that can be just as imposing. Also they have moaned about the characters being sexist BUT there are some other characters of a different sex which equal it out a little.
Books are books, they are ideas created by an author and if people don’t like them, then they just shouldn’t read them. I’m not a fan of 50 shades of grey, but I won’t get the hump about the author and the state of the books (I’m not the petty…HAHA) but I just don’t read them, I leave that to her loyal fan base who love them. And that’s the thing, you cannot please everyone as an author, at some point you are going to upset someone with your story… So let’s just stop moaning and becoming a moaning nation!!!
Lets just read and be happy.