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Catalonia schools remove classic children’s books over ‘sexism’

A school in Catalonia, Spain, has decided to take down 200 classic children’s books from its library shelves. The move includes classics such as Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood because of their depiction of "sexist stereotypes".

Published: April 18, 2019, 7:55 am

    Barcelona

    Newsweek reported that after analyzing the contents of its library for children up to the age of 6, the management of Taber School in Barcelona says it found that at least a third of its stories were “toxic”.

    Only one-tenth of the books were written from an acceptable gender perspective, according to the school. In the rest of the children’s books, gender roles in society was “not being reflected in stories” said Anna Tutzó, who was on the commission that reviewed the collection.

    Tutzó said gender bias pervaded fairy tales as in the classic legend of Saint George, in which a man is the hero and the woman is a frightened princess, was also among the stories removed. The tale of male bravery is a key story read at regional festivals in Catalonia on St George’s Day.

    Tutzó complained to El Pais that such stories feed the stereotypes of linking masculinity with courage.

    But science, and history, suggest the road to physical equality may be a difficult one. Men are physically stronger than women, on average. A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that men had an average of 12 kilograms more skeletal muscle mass than women. Women also exhibited about 40 percent less upper-body strength and 33 percent less lower-body strength, on average, the study found.

    Other schools in Barcelona will follow soon. Montseny School is revising the books in its library. Estel Clusella, head of Fort Pienc’s school parents’ association, praised books that broke traditional gender stereotypes.

    “At the age of 5, children have already established gender roles; they know what it is to be a boy or a girl and what that means. So it’s key to work with a gender perspective from the infancy stage,” she maintained.

    In 2017, schools in the Australian state of Victoria as part of a Respectful Relationships curriculum, were encouraged to question gender roles in fairy tales.

    Lauren Rosewarne, a social studies expert at the University of Melbourne, told ABC News that tales of women being saved by men, female beauty and witches, were outdated.  “Fairy tales have long been in the crosshairs of feminists who have considered the presentations to reiterate antiquated stereotypes,” she said.

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