Have you ever read Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit to your child? Yes??
Come here. Sit down. We need to talk.
I’m sorry, but your child is now forever scarred. He/she will either
grow up to be horribly traumatized by bunnies or become a bunny-killer.
It’s inevitable. That cute little white tail, those cute ears- yeah, not
BUT THIS IS JUST A HARMLESS CHILDREN’S BOOK! I hear you say.
YOU’RE READING TOO MUCH INTO IT! I also hear you say.
But answer me this. Which rabbits do you know who dress up in jackets and shoes? What kind of rabbit has a name? Exactly.
So, according to the story, Mrs. Rabbit tells her bunnies one day
that they can go outside and play but must not not not crash Mr.
McGregor’s garden. Because, you know, their dad did once AND WAS PUT IN A
Excuse me, Waiter, I’d like to order some seriously?? With a side of wtf??
Mrs. Rabbit needs some parenting lessons because she just basically
told her bunnies where the fun was and expected them to stay away. Yeah.
Right. Just throw your kids into a garden with murderous, carnivorous
humans lurking about, why don’t you.
And here comes the sexist part. The (presumably) girl bunnies (all
wearing pretty red cloaks) listen to their mommy and, like good little
girls, pick blackberries in the designated safe zone. Their brother,
though, high-tails it (pun most definitely intended) to McGregor’s
garden for a lil’ nosh. So basically ol’ Beatrix is saying that girls
are aaaalways good and aaaalways stay safe and aaaalways listen to their
mommies, while little boys go off and have exciting adventures? Really, B? Have you never seen the bumper sticker that says “well-behaved women seldom make history”?
Well whatever with the way you’re raising your daughters, Mrs. R.
It’s problematic. But what about your boy? First, he rampages through
the garden, chewing on everything in sight; then McGregor chases him
around; then Peter loses his shoes and jacket (because, you know,
bunnies aren’t supposed to wear jackets fergodssake). And, finally, he escapes and returns to the rabbit hole.
He collapses with exhaustion, sans jacket and shoes, and while his
mother wonders what happened to this his second (!!!) outfit, she makes
dinner. At no point does she ask him where he’s been and what he’s been
doing. At no point does she have a long talk about the dangers of
gardens with him, and if maybe he’s deliberately putting himself in
harmful situations because that whole thing about his dad being put into
a pie really messed him up.
NOPE. She just shoves a tablespoon of chamomile tea down Peter’s throat and gives her girls a nice dinner. The end.
I can’t even, Beatrix. What was that? And…wait a minute, you wrote 22 others???
I pray for the minds of our kids, you guys.
(first posted on Book Riot 10/8/15)