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Monday, 1 December 2014

Sheepish Sexism

Awhile back, there was a hoohar about Baa Baa Black Sheep being racist (the rhyme is actually to do with tax but anyway, the ultimate implication is the black wool is much more in demand, so I don't understand why some people see it as negative towards black sheep), so some people wanted it to be about Rainbow Sheep.

Yesterday, I was in the library, and they were singing it in their pre-school playgroup. The leader sang 'One for the little boy or girl that lives down the lane'. She then followed up, 'Well, you all sang 'boy' so now let's sing it with 'girl''.

My question, is the rhyme sexist? If there is only one person living down the lane, then it can only be a boy or a girl. Is it sexist if it's a boy?

I would argue it's neither racist (historically or currently) nor sexist - in fact, it's very egalitarian in that both the Master and the Dame get a bag....as for the being down the lane, their gender is irrelevant - the fact that they are deemed worthy of a bag of wool is not. Scullery boy? Illegitimate child? Why are they giving a bag of wool to a kid?

Where do others stand on this apparent hotbed of political incorrectness?

Linking up with #MummyMondays and #WeeklyWrapUp


18 comments:

  1. Oh this drives me a little crazy. Nursery ryhmes should be taught as they are - in their context - even if it does quite work for some social politically correct minds today. Perhaps instead of changing the old, we need to invent the new and create ones that work for today's society and children. Innovation - we seem to have lost that along the way in our world xx

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  2. This annoys me intensely !!!! I think we, as a society, have taken this political correctness too far and it drives me nuts !!! We often discuss this at work and can't believe how ridiculous it is getting.

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  3. I think we should just leave it as it is, there are so many such rhymes that aren't PC we can't change them all. Anything that is raciest I think should go, which there are some sayings etc, but where does it end?

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    1. I agree, if it's racist then it should go, but I would argue in this case it's racist to think that black sheep somehow relate to people and are somehow inferior....what is the 'wool' in that case?

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  4. I love all the incorrectness of nursery rhymes. There's children getting beaten and having no supper. People getting pushed down stairs. Lots of drunk people. It's all just history! How things were and often as you say, they have a completely different meaning to what we think they mean today. Ring a ring a roses for example. I love them just as they are.

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  5. Nursery rhymes are surprisingly politically incorrect and blood thirsty! What about the children's rhyme Ring a Ring A Rosy which is about the plague!!!

    Visiting today from #teamIBOT xxx

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  6. I am a raving femmo from way back with a habit of overthinking everything related to gender and that doesn't even raise an eyebrow here.

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  7. In one of the girls' playschool books it says 'white' sheep. I find it a little ridiculous. I'd like to know playschool's reasoning for changing it.

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  8. Nursery rhymes are for kids.
    Kids do not care what colour the sheep is, who lives down the lame, or what the bloody hell a dame even is!
    Why can't we just stop making mountains out of nothing, and maybe focus on important issues instead.

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    1. I actually think it is a deliberate distraction - if we are going to worry about sexism, let's look at it in the workplace, where it is rife and has a real impact...but no one seems to care about that - let's focus on gender toys and nursery rhymes....

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  9. I say keep all nursery rhymes the way they are x

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  10. I've always sung it the original way with my boys. I remember something coming up about Enid Blyton books being racist but I read them obsessively as a child and I don't think they harmed me.

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  11. Are you for reals? Seriously, that just grinds my gears to no end. All this political correctness is pathetic. Kids just want to S-I-N-G! Cheers for linking with The Lounge.

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  12. I think it would be a shame to loose the traditional rhymes - often the original meaning has been lost in the PC storm and although there are undoubtably some some rhymes that are innapropriate and offensive the vast majority aren't - we should just let generations continue to enjoy them.

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  13. The thing is, I have never actually met a preschool teacher that has bothered about the PC-ness of nursery rhymes, they have way more important things to be thinking about most of the time. I wouldn't want to be a teacher at Christmas time for instance, as that wold be fraught with issues!

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  14. It is all so ridiculous. If you sat down and looked at all the nursery rhymes and stories that we have all been told they are all horrible in some way. Just leave them be. Kids don't discriminate.

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  15. I think it is ridiculous. Kids don't discriminate. I think that they should sing whatever they want. They just want to sing. Thanks for linking up with Mummy Mondays. #TeamMM

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  16. I think these rhymes were written so long ago that sometimes all it takes is a little explanation about the message. As for Baa Baa Black Sheep, nothing wrong with it at all.

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