More than 7,000 academics are gathered in Victoria, B.C., this week for the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, presenting papers on everything from the errant lessons of Grey’s Anatomy to Justin Trudeau’s political brand power. In this week-long series, the National Post showcases some of the most interesting research.

Parents who read their kids stories about happy, human-like animals like Franklin the Turtle or Arthur at bedtime are exposing their kids to racism, materialism, homophobia and patriarchal norms, according to a paper presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Most animals portrayed in children’s books, songs and on clothing send a bad message, according to academics Nora Timmerman and  Julia Ostertag: That animals only exist for human use, that humans are better than animals, that animals don’t have their own stories to tell, that it’s fine to “demean” them by cooing over their cuteness. Perhaps worst of all, they say, animals are anthropomorphized to reinforce “socially dominant norms” like nuclear families and gender stereotypes.

“[M]uch of young children’s media reproduces and confirms racist, colonial, consumerist, heteronormative, and patriarchal norms,” Timmerman and Ostertag write in their paper ‘Too Many Monkeys Jumping in Their Heads: Animal Lessons within Young Children’s Media,’ presented at Congress Wednesday.

Ms. Timmerman—a University of British Columbia PhD candidate in educational studies focusing on environmentalism—admits she’s no child psychologist, and admits there are probably extremely thin ranks of those fretting about “subliminal” messages in Goodnight Moon or Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. “I do. But I don’t think most people do,” she said.

Her argument is that books and media are often the first exposure children under 4 get to society—and it’s a society in which tigers don’t talk, bears aren’t cuddly and rhinoceroses are creatures they may never see in their lifetimes.

“If they don’t see what it is that they experience reflected within that media, then they don’t come to value that experience as much or think it’s worthwhile,” she said in an interview at Congress this week.

In their paper, she and Ms. Ostertag recommend children age 0-4 should be primarily exposed to the creatures in their daily lives in their “full richness and ambiguity,” not zebras and elephants and tropical fish and toucans (that, apparently, can come later).

And then there’s the anthropomorphism—animals like Franklin and Arthur the aardvark and The Berenstain Bears wearing clothes and talking to each other and living in nuclear families.

“What I’ve noticed in particular about animals is the cultural stereotypes that we have in our society, and in the culture of prejudices we have often are more hidden when they’re inserted into a story about animals or animal form.”

It’s just problematic when it’s the only way children see animals portrayed in the media and “when we don’t realize that an animal also has its own complex embedded ambiguous life and it exists outside of our own use or interpretation,” she said.

Authors are often trying to convey good social values in children’s books with animal characters, whether it be acceptance or generosity or inclusivity. But Ms. Timmerman wishes these authors would acknowledge that “animals themselves may have lessons to teach us.” For example, bees buzzing around a hive or ants in an ant farm can teach the importance of community and teamwork without having to be anthropomorphized, she said.

“Billy the Bee doesn’t necessarily project any kind of cultural bias unless we ignore, for example, that worker ants are mostly females and we call them male because we tend to think of workers as male,” she said.

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  • sbuffalonative

    I suspect the REASON they use animals is so they won’t ‘offend’ anyone who might read too much into the race of a human character. Ja just can’t win…

    Sesame Street tries to solve this problem by using rainbow colored Muppet’s (although many are clearly identifiable by race and ethnicity by their actions, names, and speech).

    • me

      “Parents who read their kids stories about happy, human-like animals like Franklin the Turtle or Arthur at bedtime are exposing their kids to racism, materialism, homophobia and patriarchal norms, according to a paper presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.”
      GOOD!
      Sesame Street hired a Bantu pedophile to play ‘Elmo’. Enough said…..

      • me

        By the way….I wonder why they got rid of the ‘Dick and Jane’ books? Too White for the Marxists to handle, I’m guessing…..

        • Allan477

          If I recall correctly, the Dick and Jane books were actually put out in three editions: one was all White, one was integrated, one was all White, but for use in Catholic schools, showing nuns and priests in all the school scenes. That’s the type of diversity I like, allowing people to choose whom they associated with.

          • me

            Indeed! Life should be as free…..

  • MekongDelta69

    I saw ‘Academics,’ ‘Humanities and Social Sciences,’ ‘Ms.’ and ‘PhD candidate in educational studies focusing on environmentalism’ and I knew I’d be in for a 60 second laugh-fest.
    .
    .
    (shhh – I’m reading)
    .
    .
    “…exposing their kids to racism, materialism, homophobia and patriarchal norms…” “…children’s media reproduces and confirms racist, colonial, consumerist, heteronormative, and patriarchal norms…” “…worker ants are mostly females and we call them male because we tend to think of workers as male…”
    .
    .
    Yep – like I said – except it was only a 30 second laugh-fest.

    Damn – I wish I were mentally deranged too, so I could obtain a Doctorate in ‘educational studies focusing on environmentalism.’
    Don’t YOU?!!

    • dukem1

      If I knew then what I know now….
      I’d be pulling down a good six figures as a tenured prof somewhere – probably the Ivy League.
      I wish that one of these dumbos would write a book describing the world they envision if all their idiotic junk science were to be put into practice…
      But that will never happen…the last thing these folk want, really, is for anyone to speculate, seriously, on the consequences of their thinking.

      How did the lunatics ever gain control of the asylum?

      Well, I guess I know how, but why did we ever let it happen?
      Asleep at the switch, somehow,.
      The modern, Western world is dead.
      I hope I die before I get old.

      • Sick of it

        For one, they started shutting down asylums…

        • me

          Yup. That’s a good point. Like Poe’s harrowing tale, “The System Of Dr. Tar and Professor Feather”(1845), the whole world is being overrun and ruled by the crazies.

  • Andy

    My sister and I were writing a piece of satire yesterday… we tried… but we’re outmatched.

    • One of my sisters and I were wearing the exact same outfit yesterday, and we got invited to Sesame Street for segment titled “The boy and girl in the Emperor’s clothes”. Or was called it “The boy and girl in the Empress’s clothes”?

      • dukem1

        That Sesame Street pederast just one a bunch of Emmy awards.
        Good grief!!!!

        • Sick of it

          It should have been obvious…Elmo is creepy as hell.

  • ncpride

    This article absolutely ranks in the top three this year as the most ridiculous tripe I’ve read so far. Looking for the ‘boogey man’ where none was intended nor implied, except in the minds of these nutters.

    • Martel

      I assume you don’t count the dozen or so kids who were arrested for carrying and pointing “handguns”(literally),and for wearing NRA shirts and telling in school their father owns a firearm.

      • ncpride

        I have no idea what you’re talking about, or how it relates to this story about loony liberals trying to find ‘scary’ themes in children’s stories……

        • IstvanIN

          I think he means Teddy Bears are no more a threat than a 5 year old going bang-bang with his finger.

          • ncpride

            Ah, I see. I wasn’t trying to be snide in my remark, just genuinely didn’t make the connection.

          • Martel

            I disagreed with your top three basically, this year alone many children have been arrested for “making gun sounds”, pointing their finger like a gun,wearing an NRA shirt and so on. There is so much politically correct insane things going on I wouldn’t know how to make a top three. An example, a 2nd grader got suspended for two days for making gun sounds in driver elementary in Virginia.

            And these are just gun related

  • IstvanIN

    Hmmm, if I start a “pan-mammal” group will I be accused of being anti-fish and anti-bird?

  • NorthernWind

    How can you be serious and come up with nonsense like that? It’s unbelievable how out of touch with reality these “academics” are. Wow.

  • JohnEngelman

    Parents who read their kids stories about happy, human-like animals like Franklin the Turtle or Arthur at bedtime are exposing their kids to racism, materialism, homophobia and patriarchal norms, according to a paper presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

    – Sarah Boesveld, National Post, June 6, 2013

    It never occurs to people who think this way that white racism persists, despite being driven underground, because of the persistence of high rates of black crime.

    • David Ashton

      7,000 “academics” – by their fruits ye shall know the “Cultural Marxists”.

      • me

        Amen!

  • bigone4u

    All the jargon is there: “racist, colonial, consumerist, heteronormative, and patriarchal.” Throw in the jargon, condemn the traditional family, hurl a few brickbats at whites and males in particular, and denounce capitalism. There you have a lucrative career in higher ed today. I should know since I saw it from the inside for 30 years. It offended me then and although I’m out of it now, it still offends me. The really stupid thing is that a big crowd will show up to hear the looney lady authors vomit this mess out in a seminar, while agreeing with the idea that everyone there is a genius.

    • IstvanIN

      and they can make a living not contributing anything of any value, materially, spiritually or scientifically. The illegal at the register of a McDonalds contributes more than these nitwits do.

    • David Ashton

      Same experience in Britain.

      Since leaving teaching over ten years ago, I have watched the “race, gender, class” clones rise to the top, from which they now impose “equality and diversity” downwards. My friends and I have done what we could to publicize and oppose this trajectory, and continue to do so, but complacency even now is a problem. Resistance is more difficult not only because of fashion but because of legislation – for example, ministers are allegedly considering how to protect from criminal prosecution anyone who might in future still criticize “gay marriage”.

    • Sick of it

      These people don’t even know the meaning of genius…or art…or beauty…or critical thinking.

      • me

        But they know the meaning of European American genocide….

    • me

      Why don’t people laugh and boo at these asses when they spew this drivel? If I were in the audience, I’d be throwing rotten eggs at this idiot.

      • bigone4u

        because the people in the audience are asses too!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • MBlanc46

      All the bases were covered, all right.

  • David Ashton

    The reductio ad absurdum of “critical studies”.
    What about heteronormative mammals, nest-building birds, colonising insects?
    Animals may well have lessons for us: breeding among their own kind, fighting for territory, gender hierachy, &c.

  • The Final Solution

    Bwa ha ha! The best part is “that animals have their own stories to tell”. Had me falling out of my chair. These feminist nutjobs clearly know something no one else knows. They must be able to communicate with animals – those untold stories must be all about racism and hate and the evil white man and stuff. Cuz we know if animals could talk, that’s what they would be saying. Inference is science in the Department of Fake Work.

    • Sick of it

      Last story I read, they were having sexual relations with animals…

      • me

        And posting it on the internet…

  • Evette Coutier

    And to think we eagerly send our kids to colleges and universities to be brainwashed by these bozos, and pay darn good money to do so.

    • me

      Yup. “College” is another Marxist stronghold. You’d be better off giving your child their college fund and having them buy some rural farming property; or get them apprenticed to an electrician or plumber. They won’t learn anything but self-loathing at the indoctrination camps known as ‘college’.

  • The__Bobster

    These useless eaters really need to do the right thing and off themselves, as they offer nothing of value to humanity.

    • MikeofAges

      Phylogenetically, they are “offing” themselves in the long run with a less than replacement reproduction rate. They proliferate through recruiting and gain funding through the votes and activism of their armies of dupes.

  • Paleoconn

    I didn’t need a photo of Timmerman to know what she looks like.

    Canada, aka Trudeauland is beyond hope. He so-called cons in power, their greatest achievement has been disbanding a sinkhole gun registry and a state monopoly wheat commission. Whoop de doo.

  • Spartacus

    Parents who read their kids stories about happy, human-like animals
    like Franklin the Turtle or Arthur at bedtime are exposing their kids to
    racism, materialism, homophobia and patriarchal norms, according to a
    paper presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

    Most animals portrayed in children’s books, songs and on clothing
    send a bad message, according to academics Nora Timmerman and Julia
    Ostertag: That animals only exist for human use, that humans are better
    than animals, that animals don’t have their own stories to tell, that
    it’s fine to “demean” them by cooing over their cuteness. Perhaps worst
    of all, they say, animals are anthropomorphized to reinforce “socially
    dominant norms” like nuclear families and gender stereotypes.

    ———————————————————————————————————————

    Jesus Christ, is there no limit to how retarded these people are ?!?!?!?

    • me

      No. And that’s an insult to retards…..

  • Sounds like they want to take the pants off the Berenstain Bears as it’s “not natural”, but then out the other side of their mouths, they’ll say that Bantu’s affinity for polygamy and gang violence is an artificial reaction to something that YT, no doubt started.
    As deep down everyone aspires to monogamous White middle class life with 2.1 children, unless they’ve been afflicted by some historical social injustice perpetrated by some outer group.

    Or I can’t remember if it’s ‘racist’ to inflict that White social model on all the ethno cultures of the world.
    Which one is it?

    I assume we’ll end up being racist and wrong with what ever we end up doing (or don’t do).
    So why bother trying to satisfy the unsatisfiable, lets just fast forward to the war at the end.

    Racial politics are the ultimate con job, as by denying that there are inherent differences, all cries for equal outcomes will always have to be financially propped up.
    “We’re all the same”=give us more money to fix unequal outcomes.
    “We’re all different”=give us more money to obtain equal outcomes.

    I guess we all have to eat somehow, but asking us to take this seriously is just a bridge too far, why can’t we just call it what it is, a shake down fueled by our guilt at these inherent differences.

  • Biff_Maliboo
  • Sherman_McCoy

    Well, no problem in my household. I tell my kids about “Little Black Sambo” and the tigers who refused to eat him because of the smell. Also about the carload of thugs who tried to attack us while we were out for a walk in our neighborhood at night, and who ran off once I put my hands on my concealed pistol. They especially like the story of the white liberal lady who lived near the local golf course who was robbed and raped by an illegal alien (though I’ve intentionally left out the rape part).

    • me

      No Disney films? My gawd, they’ll be terrified to leave the house! I hope you live in a less ‘diverse’ neighborhood…..

      • Sherman_McCoy

        I live in Germany, my friend. I left the US after Section 8’s started to destroy my lovely upscale neighborhood. Some Disney films are OK, certainly not tripe like “Pokeyourhontas,” or “The Dusky Princess.”

        • me

          Yeah, the more ‘diverse’ a Disney cartoon is, the more trouble the Disney corporation has in selling the tied-in merchandise. The Bantu princess didn’t do so well….I see her merchandising rotting away in discount bins.
          Disney’s “Princess And The Frog”–a Grimm fairy tale, stolen to create a ‘diverse’ tale of a ‘princess’ in New Orleans….notice her lighter skinned prince?

  • MikeofAges

    Hard to argue with the Billy the Bee thing though.

  • Basketeddie

    Really, amren. Have we been “punkd”? This story had to come from The Onion or some similar publication of spoofs. If not, I’ll say it again: “You can’t make this stuff up”!!

    • MBlanc46

      Alas, I’m afraid that they can, and do, make it up.

  • NeanderthalDNA

    “Hi kids! I’m Liblefty Lamb and this is my lesbian life partner, Lady Duckspeak Quackalot. We have Phd’s in the Humanities which means we dream up crazy crap, slather on a veneer of scholarly sheen, and get paid. Everything you hold dear is crap and white men are evil. And if you want a Phd in the Humanities, you have to go through us!”

    Parasites.

  • WR_the_realist

    My God, the humanities lefties are even crazier than I thought. Okay, let’s stop anthropomorphizing animals, and just give kids the facts. Elephant seals: The males fight it out and the biggest, toughest one wins and has sex with all the females. Child care is provided for entirely by the females. Deer: The stags duke it out and the winner mates with the females. Again, all child care is provided for entirely by the females. Turkeys: Most of the year wild turkeys live in sex segregated flocks, all male or all female. At mating time the males fight it out and the biggest, toughest one wins and has sex with all the turkeys in the female flock. Child care is provided entirely by the females. Lions: Male lions fight it out to determine who gets to take over the pride. If a new male takes over a pride he murders all the cubs fathered by the previous male. He then has sex with all the lionesses and all the new cubs are his own. Nature is sexist as all hell. Indeed, the classic patriarchal society such as we had as recently as the 1950s is remarkable primarily for the extraordinarily high level of support that males provide for their children, as well as their mates, certainly when compared to other vertebrate species. But this high level of support is only possible in a traditional society where the male can be confident that he doesn’t have a liberated female playing the field and having sex with other males, as he would then be devoting massive resources to raising some other man’s children. Genes that allow that to happen don’t last long.

    Chimpanzees: When a troop of chimpanzees encounters another troop, they have a fight over who gets to keep the territory. Likewise for wolves when one pack encounters another pack. Nature is xenophobic as all hell. You rarely see animals embracing “the other”.

    As for the cooperation of bees, ants, and termites — they have an usual pattern of genetic inheritance, with the result that two workers in the same colony share 3/4 of their genes, rather than the 50% that humans share with their siblings. So the social insects cooperate with each other for the same reasons that the individual cells in your body cooperate with each other — it increases overall genetic fitness. That’s sociobiology 101. I dare the leftists to start teaching courses in sociobiology.

    • Puggg

      Human beings: Upwards of a dozen men engage in some combination of hard work and sucking up to win the promotion to Vice-President of whatever with a big office on the second-to-the-top floor. The man who gets the promotion will then suddenly be surrounded by many young attractive women.

      Some other kinds of human beings: The crips and the bloods battle over the rights to hawk dope on a ghetto street corner. The winning gang’s members get the best most nubile least diseased hos. The leader of the winning gangs gets to pop the cherries of whatever virgins are left in the hood.