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Dr. Helen

Sexism or Censorship?

October 3rd, 2013 - 9:10 am

I was kind of shocked (okay,it’s Berkeley, nothing should shock me) when I read that a store had pulled books from a book store at Half Price Books, in Berkeley, Calif. because an 8 year old girl called them sexist:

Constance Cooper’s daughter, KC, is no shrinking violet. In fact, Cooper describes her 8-year-old as articulate, passionate and a great reader, qualities parents hope their children exhibit as they grow.

So it was not a huge surprise to Cooper when, this past summer, KC became upset after an ordinary trip to their local bookstore, Half Price Books, in Berkeley, Calif.

“We were browsing around in the bookstore, and suddenly I heard my daughter calling out, ‘Mama! You have to look at this!’” recalls Cooper. “So, of course, I thought she’d found something she wanted to buy, but it was completely the opposite. She was looking at two books that had made her so enraged she was actually in tears.”

The books, titled “How To Survive (Almost) Anything,” included a boy version and a girl version. In the boy version, the chapters covered topics such as “How to Survive a Shark Attack,” “How to Survive in a Desert,” and “How to Survive Whitewater Rapids.”….

KC was so upset at the sexist nature of the books that a bookstore employee took notice and asked her what was wrong.

“After looking through the books, the employee agreed they were offensive and pulled them from the shelves! She said if she had seen them first they wouldn’t have been there to begin with. She was great because she took action and validated my daughter’s feelings.”

Cooper, a science fiction writer, is proud of her daughter for drawing attention to the books and having them removed from the store, and took this experience as a lesson learned for both KC and herself.

So at my local Barnes and Noble, there are many books I find offensive and sexist. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg is one and Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men by Michael Kimmel is another. I was once in that bookstore reading Lean In (I don’t want to pay for it) and feeling upset by the sexism and flippant attitude towards men. Any chance they will ban those books? Hah!

And why should they? Is it fair to ban books because we don’t like what they say? The mom in this story is proud of her daughter–it’s fine if the daughter wants to speak up but she shouldn’t be proud that they removed the books from the store, she should be horrified that she and the store clerk are teaching an 8 year old that it is okay to be a PC fascist who gets her jollies from restricting free speech. How would mom feel as a SF writer if they banned her books from stores?

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Top Rated Comments   
Doesn't it reinforce a female stereotype to announce that she and her daughter reacted emotionally and called that critical thinking?
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (10)
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The girl is EIGHT YEARS OLD! Since when do 8-year-olds decide which books
can be offered for sale at a bookstore.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Constance Cooper is yet another validation of my distaste for female-authored stuff sold as science fiction.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Parents often miss teachable moments where they can challenge their kids to think things through even further. Instead they congratulate whining and demand the world accommodate them.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
The original story has been updated:

"Joshua Lynn, a manager at Half Price Books, has clarified to TODAY Moms that the books were not removed from the store, but rather were moved to a 'less prominent area of the children's section.'

" 'While we certainly understand why the books upset her and commend the girl for speaking out against stereotypical portrayals of gender roles in books, I would like to stress that we are strong advocates of First Amendment rights and do not advocate censorship or removal of "objectionable" books from circulation,' Lynn said."

She says that now because she got caught engaging in censorship and members of the public called her on it, I would suggest. I'll bet the original intent was to get rid of the books just as the original story said had been done.

Looks as if the girls' version was just about as stereotypical as many would picture. I suspected that a typical chapter in it would be something like, "How to Survive After Painting Your Toenails the Wrong Color". That really wasn't too far off...
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
More hypergamy. A sole complaint by an woman/child is sufficient proof of unsuitability for everyone.

"My XX trumps your 1st amendment. I'm offended, so you must shut up, or you're a rapist. "
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
This doesn't surprise me at all, but that doesn't mean I don't find it ridiculous.

Remember when they tried to ban Huckleberry Finn, or even worse when they mandated rewriting it? Why, because it has the N-word.

I can't even use the actual language in the book to make my point, because that would be racist. This is how far our culture has devolved intellectually.

But to the point, Mark Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn to reveal the hypocrisy of logocentric (word centered) thought. Think about it.

Huckleberry is raised in a culture based on logocentric thought. N-word = subhuman. This is what allows the people in this culture to rationalize slavery and barbarity.

When Huckleberry decides to run away with N-word Jim, the town sends him a letter, saying "If you run away with that N-word, you're going to hell." He tears up the letter and says, "I guess I'm going to hell." (These are not exact quotes but paraphrases.)

But when Huckleberry escapes with Jim, he keeps him in chains. Many people find this grossly insulting, because they don't know how to read.

As Huckleberry and Jim are travelling down the Mississippi River, Huckleberry looks at Jim and begins to remember all of the times Jim has stood by him. He's no longer thinking of Jim as an N-word, but as a friend. In other words, not that he's free from the culture, Huckleberry is no longer thinking of Jim as an N-word=subhuman=slave, he is now thinking of Jim in terms of experiences. Huckleberry has escaped from logocentric thought and now sees Jim for what he truly is, a human being and a friend. Then he takes the chains off, so that both are free.

This is the most important and most relevant book in American literature, as it cuts to the heart of the American experience. All men are created equal, words do not define them. Experiences, however, do.

And yet certain people want to ban this book because of a word? Let's talk about logocentricism, which is hypocrisy.

Alll this incident with this girl reveals to me is how far our culture has fallen.

You don't like the book, don't buy it, don't read it. It's as simple as that. Just don't pretend to tell me you know better how to read it.

This incident reveals the fundamental problems in our culture, which we have created by the way. 1) That children know better than adults. 2) That anything deemed offensive, especially to girls, is unacceptable.

Alll of this in enforced by the media, which doesn't know how to read. They just push their agenda. Which is that women are superior, that little girls are the arbitrors of all things. It's gone way beyond ridiculous.

When men allow this to happen, it leads to the dissolution of society and culture. That's the bottom line.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
It seems somehow that we are facing the classical fallacy and peril which Orwell painted already so graphically. The difference maybe that this time it is not borne out of real privation and oppression making people prone to such inhuman societal retardations ... this time apparently more out of a form of decadent female narcissism and envy or something in the realm of such ... and maybe instrumentalized by used some "white nights" to gain power,status and control.

It's always the same scheme. Look for a scapegoat to project on and then try to gain on that. The fear this injects by PC seems already quite permeating.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is an example how this gets also bigger than "just" feminism. We are not far from burning books - e.g. also those like yours, since you create justifiably and much needed awareness which is not wanted by e.g. those inhuman ideologues. Men maybe just the starter.

I wonder if you are aware of

"Section 2. Purpose
The purpose of this Statute is to:
(a) Promote tolerance within society without weakening the common bonds tying together a single society.
(b) Foster tolerance between different societies.
(c) Eliminate hate crimes as defined in Section 1(c).
(d) Condemn all manifestations of intolerance based on bias, bigotry and prejudice.
(e) Take concrete action to combat intolerance, in particular with a view to eliminating racism, colour bias, ethnic discrimination, religious intolerance, totalitarian ideologies, xenophobia, anti- Semitism, anti-feminism and homophobia."

... and since you are a critic ...

This is exactly the kind of stuff which lead e.g. to Stalinism, Maoism etc. ... of course also in the name of "goodness and tolerance" ... as anything like this ... which everybody can easily by just looking at mankinds history.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Doesn't it reinforce a female stereotype to announce that she and her daughter reacted emotionally and called that critical thinking?
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
or that 2 women and a child decided what was appropriate for boys, without having one present or bothering to consult a male of any age, and acted on it? I'm wondering if they'd tolerate the same. Lets check in with Whiney Davis and see if she'll tolerate being censored on any subject.

46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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