Help and angsty feminist parent talk with the school and her daughter.
June 6, 2012 7:10 PM Subscribe
My daughter has repeatedly brought home books from the school library that I have a problem with. I'm a feminist and I'm anti-censorship. I'm lost.
posted by taff to Human Relations (146 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
My five year old daughter started school this year. It's a tiny, state run infant's school with only four teachers and one of the teachers doubles as the head mistress. The head mistress is terrifying, intimidating to me and not very receptive to questions or requests.
Because the school is so small, the kids can only borrow books once per week. The librarian oversees libraries at several schools.
Yesterday, for the THIRD time, LittleTaff brought home a fairy tale... this time Rapunzel. Objectified women with little or no agency, basing marriage decisions on the appearance or wealth of the men, and WITCHES!!!!
After the second version of the Little Mermaid came home, I had a phone interview with the head and told her that I wasn't happy about the way women were portrayed, that I could see some historical merit in the books, but thought they were more appropriate for older children... but also that the Disney version of the Little Mermaid had no literary nor historical merit and did the school need some fundraising for books. (I'm on the fundraising committee. )
The head talked over the top of me, told me that the librarian was excellent, the library was very well stocked and that she'd look in to the very first book because it had the sea witch encouraging the little mermaid to murder the wife of the prince.
So... that was two weeks ago. And yesterday my lovely kid brought home Rapunzel.
I'm conflicted. My daughter loves her library books. She won't let me skim, she is devastated when I criticise the books.... of course making sure it's about the author's silliness and not her choice. But I think all she hears is "Your choice is shit again and the things you like are bad".
We have a house brimming with books that are good for girls and people of race and in all types of relationships....
Two areas of questions:
I have asked my husband to come with me to talk to the headmistrees and librarian in a formal meeting.... what do you suggest we say? Help me with my script. I need to keep calm and focused and I don't feel either. I'm not even sure what I want.
What do I say to my daughter about the books if they continue to come home? She's half Tibetan so finding books that reflect something she might recognise as being like her is almost impossible. They're all white and pretty and all the dark haired women are evil.
My daughter chooses these books.... so I really need to support her, and continue to nurture her love of reading and being read to.
We've talked about how people used to think bad things about women who were doctors before there were doctors and called them witches. She knows witches were actually healers that were threatening to zealots... but that's a complex thing to take on board. And really, she's just a little girl who wants to read a happy story with pretty pictures.
I did do some reconnaissance and go to the Feminist Bookshop in Sydney this morning.... but they've closed down. I really need a feminist parent reality check/pep talk.
(I am a terrible worrier. If you say it in nice words, I'm open to being told that I'm over-reacting. But MrTaff and I are hard core feminists. So that's where we're coming from.)