Sexism in Literature
Present an informative written report on an aspect of sexism in literature.
• What is sexism?
• Have you had any first-hand experience of sexist behaviour or treatment?
• What does the phrase ‘double standard’ mean?
• How are sexist attitudes developed?
• In what sense is sexism considered to be undesirable in present day society?
• How can sexist attitudes and behaviour be encouraged/discouraged through the literature a child reads?
• What books did you read in your years at primary school? Were any of these books sexist in nature?
• How has the growing awareness of sexism as an undesirable attitude in our society affected the sorts of literature children are now exposed to?
Make notes on the above questions, based on:
• your own personal experience.
• your observations of community attitudes
• pay attention to the media, and the way they present sexist/nonsexist attitudes and behaviour.
• research in your library. The Equal Opportunities Forum Bulletin will provide you with valuable information.
• Discussion with people. If you have a younger brother or sister, ask them about the sorts of books they are reading in school.
• Interview a primary school teacher about the role that they feel literature plays in developing sexist behaviour.
Select two works of fiction. Select from:
• fiction designed for children
• fiction designed for teenagers
• fiction designed for adults
Compare and contrast these books. Determine whether they encourage or discourage sexist behaviour and attitudes. Select a number of scenes from each book to illustrate your view.
Compile your findings into a detailed report designed to inform a reader about sexism in literature. Include a definition of sexism, examples of sexist behaviour and attitudes and an explanation of how these attitudes are encouraged through literature. Discuss the novels you have read as illustrations of the above points.