Childrearing

What Do Girls Need To Survive? According To Scholastic, It’s BFFs, Stardom And Clear Skin

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Consider it the literary equivalent to LEGO Friends. Scholastic recently published two “How To Survive Anything” manuals. The boys’ version teaches you about things like shark bites, avalanches and a zombie invasion. The girls get to learn about how to handle sudden stardom and survive a fashion disaster.

Really, it’s so stereotypical that it’s nauseating. Girls care about acne and the perfect pair of sunglasses. Boys want to know about dangerous animals and surviving in the wild.

Those who sell and advertise to children has always maintained that they use extreme gender stereotypes because that’s what sells. They say girls want all that hot pink glitter and boys want adventure. Well I decided to do a little experiment. And I think the results were interesting.

I mixed up all the how to survive topics into one big list. Then I asked my 4-year-old daughter which subjects she was interested in. Basically, I went down the line and said, “Do you want to know how to a croc attack?” Answer: “Crocodiles! They’re cool.” I considered that a yes. Then I asked, “Do you want to know how to show you’re sorry?” Answer: “No. Why do I have to be sorry?” I marked that down as a no.

Guess what I found out? My adorable little girl, who enjoys princesses and playing Barbies just as much as the next child, wasn’t actually worried about becoming rich or surviving a game of truth or dare. When it came to the “Boys Only” survival guide, she wanted to know about 80% of the topics. As for the “Girls Only” alternative, it was only half as interesting at 40%.

Even better, I asked my 6-year-old nephew about the exact same topics. He was interested in 76% of the “Boys Only” topics and only 19% of the “Girls” contents. Looks to me like the boys just got a much more exciting book.

More than anything, the idea that boys and girls will have to “survive” a bunch of different experiences is getting more and more out-dated. In reality, males and females are more integrated than ever before. The playing field is continually evening out. Boys and girls will be competing for top marks and top jobs for the rest of their lives. Their interests are not going to fall into these antiquated gender ideas we have in our heads.

The sad thing about these books is that when my daughter sees the “Boys Only” label, she takes it seriously. She wonders whether she should be interested in those topics. When we walk into the aisle of superheroes and action figures, she realizes that this is the “boys aisle.” She asks if its okay for her to buy the “boys toys.”

The good news here is that enough parents were distressed about the contents of the books that Scholastic has been forced to remove the titles from their catalog. The company issued a statement saying, “Many readers have expressed concerns about our How to Survive Anything titles, and we want to thank you for your passionate responses. The two titles have had very limited distribution to date, and no further copies will be made available.”