From somewhere, Katie acquired a copy of a Berenstein Bears book. She has lots of books. They come from everywhere. It ought to be pretty non-confrontational stuff — bears go to school, bears meet some bear conflict, bears resolve conflict through bear family unity.
When I read the book to Katie yesterday evening, one passage turned my vision red, boiled my blood, clenched my fists, and made me shake in the burning need to rant. For the bears had offended me and they must die. I am plotting their fuzzy death. Bears are a menace! You see:
Brother Bear, you see, is good at science and math, but is bad at language arts.
Sister Bear, on the other hand, is good at language arts but terrible at science and math.
Why? I thought. Why is Sister Bear good at spelling and reading and Brother Bear good at science and math, which presumably also needs spelling and reading? Because math is hard! We’re giving into gendered stereotypes! And Sister Bear is a girl.
I was coated in feminist rage. Why couldn’t Sister Bear be good at reading and science and math? Why does she have to suck at science and math? Is she not good enough? Is the teacher not giving her enough encouragement? And what does that mean, precisely? And why are you telling my daughter who is obsessed with how brains work and how much blood is in the human body* that Sister Bear sucks at math and science!
Sister Bear goes off to compete in a spelling bee, but in this book she decides to ditch the spelling bee progression right when she was winning because she would rather go play with her friends. Friends are awesome but hey, spelling bee! Father Bear, you see, gets guilt over pushing Sister Bear competitively to defeat her enemies with words and bathe in their spelling bee entrails. He decides he should back off instead. But would he get guilt over pushing Brother Bear? I bet not. No way, man.
Girl == go ditch out of succeeding, go play with your friends. Boy == KILL.
You suck, Berenstein Bears.
Grrr. I prefer stuff with Princesses. At least they get swords and stuff and have to go rescue the Prince from the evil witch. And hey! She would rather go see Despicable Me anyway because she wants a Minion. Not a stuffy. An actual yellow dude Minion.
* 10 gallons under extreme pressures. *SPRAY*