Features Australia

At uni with Mrs Potato Head

9 June 2018

9:00 AM

9 June 2018

9:00 AM

These days, whenever a local council comes up with a lunatic idea that bewilders ordinary Australians, you can be guaranteed that there is a university behind it.

Last month the Herald Sun reported that Manningham and Melbourne City Councils were going to remove from their respective kindergartens, schools and libraries all books and toys deemed to enforce gender stereotypes. The story claimed that Noddy, Winnie the Pooh, Thomas the Tank Engine and Barbie were all going to be discarded on the grounds that their presence was inimical to a ‘gender neutral’ environment.

This most preposterous of proposals understandably elicited much horror and outrage from members of the general public. However, after the hoo-ha had finally subsided, Melbourne City Council issued a statement in which it claimed that it would on no account be banning any books. It was, according to the council, fake news.

However, as the old adage says, ‘there’s no smoke without fire.’ In 2018, it seems that there’s no crackpot council pronouncement without an institution of higher learning behind it. In this particular instance, it’s the Australian National University. Two years ago, it seems that some overzealous bureaucrats decided that one of the most pressing matters for taxpayers was the problem of gender bias amongst under-5s. Said bureaucrats approached the university and requested a literature review of the development of gender roles, bias and stereotypes in pre-school children.

The story run by the Herald Sun was based on the requested literature review, which is a 40 -page report entitled ‘Building Children’s Resilience through Respectful and Gender Equitable Relationships Pilot Project’ and which was released in March.

The upshot of the document is that children as young as two are not only guilty of stereotyping but that they are also developing gender bias. ‘Although it is often thought that children are relatively free of the social biases and stereotypes that adults exhibit’, the authors lament, ‘the evidence suggests that the foundations for these stereotypes are actually set very young.’


But wait, there’s more. ‘Research also suggests that stereotyping and prejudice along race and gender lines can be observed in children as young as 3 to 4 years of age.’

Toddlers who are barely out of nappies and who are just coming to grips with their existence, are apparently guilty of stereotyping and gender bias. It’s not just adults who are racists, sexists and misogynists. Parents beware! Your two-year old son currently having a tantrum on the supermarket floor is already a white supremacist who thinks that women belong in the kitchen.

The report essentially claims that if you play with inappropriate toys or read the wrong books before your fifth birthday, your adult life will be ruined. If little girls choose to play with Barbie dolls or dress up as fairies, they will, according to the paper, have no chance at becoming scientists, engineers or mathematicians.   If, however, they reject such feminine fripperies and build oil rigs or power stations out of Lego, they will eventually dominate in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), earn more money and ultimately win at life.

This proposition is supported by a series of equally dubious and unscientific studies, one of which involved Barbie and Mrs Potato Head.

The girls who played with Barbie apparently thought that there were fewer career options open to them than those who played with Mrs Potato Head. A tall, leggy blonde versus a middle-aged, heavy-set vegetable with protruding ears and entirely devoid of a lower half except for a pair of oversized red feet? This is hardly a fair contest.

One of the many recommendations made by the authors is to avoid the use of  the words ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ in order to ‘minimise the extent to which gender is labelled.’ This rationale comes straight out of academia and is underpinned by the post- structuralism of Foucault, whose philosophy is based on the notion that there is no single category for boy or girl. The idea that gender is a social construct has become the orthodoxy of academics occupying positions in our humanities departments.

Both the authors and recipients of this report share a common goal, which appears to be getting society to a point in which we are a genderless, androgynous mass. By creating a ‘gender neutral’ kindergarten and then a ‘gender neutral’ school, they seem to believe that they can ultimately create a genderless world in which there are neither men nor women.

And if there are no men or women, there can be no difference. And if there is no difference, there can be neither oppressor or oppressed. Hey presto, you have a world of perfect equality.

It is hardly surprising that this is the kind of research which is being conducted in our universities. Our institutions of higher learning have, of course, long been exposed as positive hotbeds of the current mania of Identity Politics, where gender, class and race occupy centre stage in our humanities departments to the detriment of Western civilisation and genuine learning. In the IPA’s 2017 review of all 746 history subjects taught in Australian universities, 244 were taught from the point of view of Identity Politics, but ‘gender’ was the third most commonly found theme across all subjects.

What is of increasing concern is the pace, readiness and enthusiasm with which those outside academia are willing to adopt this dangerous ideology propounded by academics.

Individuals at all levels of government – and those inhabiting the corporate world – are intent on applying it practically to society, whether society wants it or not, and at society’s expense. It is difficult to see this kind of collaboration between local council and university as being anything other than blatant social engineering.

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