Monday, 14 December 2009

Beware of Thomas the Tank Engine, but is he worse than Barbie?

The Toronto Star recently ran a piece by Canadian professor Shauna Hilton claiming that Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends was baaaaaad for girls because Thomas is a man and female characters on the show only have "supportive roles," it expresses a "conservative ideology" and "opposes change." No, unlike my earlier post about the CHRC issuing a memo on Political Catholicism, this is not a spoof.

Mothers can't you see this? How could you let your little girls watch Thomas? He has the evil number "1" on his side, implying being the front of the train makes him the best in a world where everyone should be equal. Did you not notice he is blue, a colour which only reinforces masculine and feminine stereotypes? (Clearly they should have painted Thomas a more gender neutral colour like yellow or pale green.) Hopefully it is only a matter of time before Thomas is replaced with a more appropriate role model like Tenacious Thomasina the Transgendered Tank Engine or Tatianna the Tank Engine, a female tank engine so strong she spends all day pulling the male train cars around.

Thankfully Marni Soupcoff at The National Post has called Hilton on this ridiculous study of Thomas:

Lock up your little girls, parents. Apparently, that friendly blue engine with a roundhouse full of pals is really a woman-hating oppressor who sidelines female mechanical devices and could destroy your daughters’ self-esteem.
The ridiculous part (not that the whole Thomas-as-misogynist thing isn’t more than a little ridiculous in itself) is that the professor in question, Shauna Hilton, has a three-year-old daughter who loves Thomas. Hilton — a political scientist at the University of Alberta, Augustana — seems to be of the view that it’s good that her daughter watches the show and plays with Thomas trains and toys. She just thinks it’s important that she talks to her daughter about the episodes and points out the ways in which they are sexist, anachronistic and potentially damaging. Oh, Mommy, what fun!