It was meant as an innocuous joke to amuse young children. But a title from beloved children’s book series Mr Men recently found itself at the centre of a sexism storm when a feminist academic condemned a gag as an example of “mansplaining”.
Oxford dictionary defines mansplaining as “the explanation of something by a man, typically to a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing”.
Scottish university student Shelby Judge shared a picture of the offending book – Mr Men in Scotland – on social media and captioned it “Mr Mansplain”.
The Glasgow resident was particularly outraged by an exchange between the characters Mr Clever and Miss Curious, in which the pair discuss the Scottish tourist attraction Forth Bridge.
After Mr Clever explains the bridge takes its name from the River Forth, Little Miss Curious responds with a question. She asks: “So what happened to the River First, the River Second and the River Third?”
An exasperated Mr Clever responds with a sigh. The text reads, “It was going to be a long day.”
Shelby (24) told Kennedy News and Media that the scene suggests “girls are stupid and it’s a man’s job to explain things to them”.
“The quote ‘it was going to be a long day’ tells girls that men are exasperated with you for existing,” she claims.
The English literature student said Mr Men was being used to “enforce these ridiculous antiquated gender roles”.
“The Mr Men books are intended for children and it’s telling them, ‘Girls, you need to be stupid and men, it’s your job to explain things’.”
The publishers have dismissed her concerns, Daily Mail reports.
“In Mr Men Scotland, the many Mr Men and Little Miss characters in the book get up to their usual antics. The book is a celebration of Scotland and its unique heritage sites,” the publishers have responded.
Author Roger Hargreaves began publishing Mr Men books in the 1970s, and Little Miss books were first published in the 1980s. After Hargreaves’ death in 1988, his son Adam began creating new Mr Men and Little Miss stories. The books have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.