A UK-based children book publisher, Usborne Publishing, apologised for an insensitive comment it put about breasts in its textbook “Growing Up For Boy.” In the book, it said that girls have breasts for two reasons – feeding babies and looking grown up and attractive.
Dad blogger Simon Ragoonanan posted a picture of the passage on his twitter handle, after which it went viral. Ragoonanan owns a website titled Man vs Pink.
— Man vs. Pink (@ManVsPink) August 27, 2017
“Girls have breasts for two reasons. One is to make milk for babies. The other is to make the girl look grown-up and attractive. Virtually all breasts, no matter what size or shape they end up when a girl finishes puberty, can do both things,” the passage, situated above an illustration of breasts, reads.
After receiving a lot of flak, the publisher issued a statement of apology to The Guardian: “Usborne apologizes for any offense caused by this wording and will be revising the content for reprinting,” the statement read.
We have received many comments and press reports regarding an extract in Growing Up for Boys – please read this thread in response ⬇️
— Usborne Publishing (@Usborne) September 1, 2017
This book came out in 2013. The publisher describes it as a frank and friendly book offering boys advice on what to expect from puberty. And how to stay happy and confident as they go through physical, psychological and emotional changes. It covers topics ranging from what happens to girls, diet, relationships, alcohol, drugs and self-confidence.
Rangnoonanan said that what was written was awful and that the publishers are serial offenders in peddling gender stereotypes to women.
The U.K. textbooks aren’t the only ones to perpetuate gender stereotypes in this way. Our Indian textbooks are much worse.
A Hindi textbook from the Rajasthan Education Board draws parallels between donkeys and women. “A donkey is like a woman. It toils all day and sometimes has to give up food and water. In fact, the donkey is a shade better, for while the housewife may sometimes complain and walk off to her parents’ home, you’ll never catch the donkey being disloyal to his master.”
Further, a sociology book in the state of Maharashtra said that ugly women do not find grooms easily. It said men marrying such women demand a lot of dowry.
Also, a Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) textbook which is taught as part of the curriculum to University students studying BAMS, talks about the various techniques to conceive a boy.
Even a class 12 Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) textbook had a paragraph explaining the ‘36-24-36’ figure, calling it the “accurate” body shape for females.
These are just a few of the many examples that crop up ever so often of how our education system really needs to re-think the messages it is imparting to impressionable boys and girls.