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Do the gender stereotypes in nursery ryhmes and fairy tales bother you?

by VerityG (follow)
A life lived in fear is a life half lived.
Parenting (216)      Family (309)      Children (252)      gender stereotypes (2)     

prince princess sleeping beauty fairy tale
"Dornroschen (2)" by Leutemann or Offterdinger via Wikimedia Commons

Songs such as "The farmer's in his den" and stories like Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood perpetrate old-fashioned gender stereotypes, with men being needed to rescue the women, and getting all the best jobs. Do you think they are harmless fun or do you try to redress the balance in some way?

#Gender stereotypes
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I think they are a bit of harmless fun...but I also try to talk with my kids about when these stories were written and how different things are now and ask them if they would do or say anything differently. We alter songs to suit whatever mood we are in at the time - everyone gets a bag of wool, we have dinosaurs and butterflies on the bus and Old MacMummy had a farm with a lot of monkeys!!
They don't bother me because they were written in a different era when views about gender were very different. I look at them fondly as an enjoyable story. If anything like that was written today though, I would have a very different outlook, and be annoyed.
I find the roles portrayed in children's stories and songs quite alarming. I know that they were (mostly) written in olden times but I think too many people just repeat them without challenging them or discussing them with their children. At my son's nursery, the girls all like to dress up as princesses, which is fine, but then they were hanging around the boys, waiting to be rescued... so I suggested they might rescue themselves and got laughed at!

I am happy to share the old songs and stories with my son, partly because like it or not they are his cultural heritage but partly so that we can talk about the attitudes in them and then use that as a way into talking about whether they are good attitudes to have and how we should treat other people.
by jonaja
Not as such because they are all very old, however having said that we DO discuss gender stereotypes and male as the default setting whenever we tell an old story or nursery rhyme.

Sometimes when I'm singing a nursery rhyme I swap the words about. My favourite is the Grand Duchess of York. She had 10.000 men *snigger*
I'm over them.

What about Rock a bye baby in the tree top!

And down will come baby cradle and all?!#*?!*#

I don't like any of them, anymore.
We can do a lot better now.

Anyway...why is baby in the tree top in a cradle? hummm
Not at all especially since I believe in most of those stereotypes.
by Gia
I think they are fine. Children take them in the lighthearted way they were intended, as stories. I think it's far more important to set a good example to your children than worrying so much about the content of a fairy tale or nursery rhyme. A lot of them don't make much sense anyway and are more about word play, rhyme and rhythm.
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