There be dragons!

Friday, October 27, 2006

About Richard Scarry's best Word Book Ever


Last night the Happy family was reading Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever (revised edition) and as the little ones (buggy-boo, booky-bear, and sweetpea) listened to their mother read, Mr. Happy noticed that the revised edition had "new" gender-neutral words. No longer was the bear a "mailman" but was now a letter carrier. No more pigs were "firemen", but were now a porcine crew of fire fighters. Nor was the fox a "policeman" but was instead a police officer. Aside from the rather pedantic question of whether policemen who were not officers could still be called police officer, Mr. Happy noticed something a bit odd about our culture and its declining masculinity. sure sure sure, the language is more inclusive and women can become police officers just as much as men. In fact there are some excellent women very suited to the job. But I can't help but wonder, in our society where young men no longer seem to know what it means to be a man; have we eradicated the imagery of the messenger, the protector, the savior as manly jobs when we call them "mail carrier", "police officer", "fire fighter"? No longer are they men, manly men, noble, worthy of emulation by little boys. Now they are gender inclusive roles open to both parties. Yet there's something natural in little boys that longs to grow up and be a man; a messenger, a protector, a savior. They want to be the ones who "kick the bad guy in the shin" or "sock him in the nose": they want to "shoot the zombies" at the house of their wierdo neighbors, or "fight the bad guys" while wearing a mask and a sheet or towel around their neck. It's a little thing, I know, and you might say "Abe, lighten up. It's just a book about pigs and cats..." But the Chinese used to have a torture called death by a thousand cuts whereing the victim would get a little cut here, a little cut there, by a very sharp razor until he was pouring blood, his body went into shock, and he died. If the first cut is the deepest, ought we not try to stop it first? I'll ask my local mail carrier, or maybe I'll just consult my three year old while he's in the role of "shooter man".

1 comment:

  1. Right on, bro! Men should be men! They should enjoy digging in the ground, drinking good beer, shooting rifles, looking at pretty women, and most of all, being the stable, powerful protectors of all that is good and noble.

    I have a class of students right now who are already lost. All of the boys have chosen to walk a life that is perverse. They are so uncontrolled and UNMASCULINE that it inspires nothing but contempt. I hope that I can do some good for them, but they just don't know what it takes to be men. Maybe I can strand them in the forest somewhere and break the legs of one of them, and see if they can figure out what it takes to survive...

    much love, your brother, Dr Urchin

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