I’m a huge Thomas fan. I always have been. I even named my first car ‘Percy’ after the little green engine featured in the books.
I’m also a huge fan of the Daily Mail – not because of the quality of the articles, you understand – but because of the scaremongering headlines and the hilarious articles it sees fit to print. Whenever I pick it up, I know that I’m sure to find at least one thing to set my blood boiling. And today’s example is this little gem – Thomas the Tank Engine is apparently sexist.
I mean, honestly! Who could hold a grudge against the Thomas the Tank Engine Books? They are quite possibly the most innocent set of stories since Beatrix Potter put pen to paper. Twilight has more blatant ‘women-should-be-submissive’ themes than Thomas could possibly have subliminal sexist undertones – why not attack that pile of tripe and leave things penned before Political Correctness went mental alone?
When I was little, there were only two girls in Thomas the Tank Engine – Annie and Clarabel – and I never even noticed. At that age, it hadn’t really occurred to me that there was an opposite sex – boys were just like I was, only they tended to have blue lunch boxes and got cars in Happy Meals instead of miniature Barbies*. Kids are wonderful – they notice differences, but they just accept that they’re there. It’s the way of the world and they’re largely happy to leave it at that and just get on with things. The fact that these so-called ‘professors’ draw attention to the lack of female characters in such a negative way can only really serve to highlight any absences that were present in the texts to begin with.
‘Professor’ Shauna Wilton also seems to have forgotten that these books were written at a time when girls didn’t really have access to things like train sets and sooty engines – in the 1940s when the Rev. W. Awdry put pen to paper, girls were expected to play with dolls and pretty things. And besides, the books were written for a little boy, which would naturally make the characters predominantly male**.
I also notice how Wilton fails to mention modern television programs such as Angelina Ballerina where only two characters featured on the website are male. I don’t think she’s as ‘all-about-equality’ as she makes out. That’s what really gets me about this whole thing – I want equal rights and I want to be taken seriously. When I do think that I’m being unfairly treated as a woman – and if you don’t believe it still happens, try being the only girl on a factory floor – I’m never taken seriously because crack-pots like this academic goit give anyone who still believes that feminism is about choice and equality a bad name.
Also, did you notice the section of the article which said:
In one episode, for example, Thomas whistles impatiently at a police officer and is replaced with a different engine as a punishment for showing dissent.
Umm … scary PC lady? Where I come from, not respecting a police officer is something that should be punished. It’s called discipline. I dread to think what your daughter will grow up like if she isn’t told off for being naughty. Heaven forbid that good manners are more important than over the top ideals of political correctness.
As one of the comments on the Daily Mail site said: rather our children be confronted with slightly outdated stories with good social morals than toy adverts like pokemon.
*Thankfully my parents refused to take me to MacDonalds – something that at the time I thought was grossly unfair but now realise was for the good of all concerned.
**I actually had a large discussion on bookarmy not long ago about how readers tend to identify more closely with a main character of their own gender.