Tokyo Mew Mew and Second Grade

I received this email this morning from a PPBB Community member and I could instantly relate to her. I would be upset if my child brought this home from his or her elementary school library, and the librarian and the principal would definitely be hearing from me. I would be angry, but I would give the educators the benefit of the doubt that they were not aware of the sexualized content and illustrations, perhaps the book was purchased as a way to expose children to multicultural manga texts/graphic novels, or maybe they are just clueless about how the sexualization of childhood impacts kids. While I feel it is the librarian’s job to know the content of the books offered, I can also see where is might be impossible to know every book on the shelf. I would use this as a teachable moment, and work with the understanding the educators will act immediately to remove such highly sexualized content out of the reach of their elementary aged students.

 

Hi Melissa, I follow you on Facebook and really enjoy your posts. You’ve opened my eyes to many things regarding sexualization of girlhood.

My second grade daughter brought home a book called “Tokyo Mew Mew” from her school library. I am appalled that they have such a book and its allowed to be checked out by a seven year old.

The girl characters (Tweens and teens?) are outrageously dressed. Playboy bunny costumes! Large breasts/cleavage in bustiers! And on and on. I’ll send the photos separately.

I will write a letter to the school librarian but I’m wondering what further advice you might have or any other suggestions you or your readers could come up with.

Sincerely,
Rebecca

I am not a fan of manga or anime so I had to look up the book title on Wikipedia. Turns out this was a popular series from 2000-2003, but it was not without criticism like this, “Conversely, in writing for Manga: The Complete Guide, Shaenon Garrity criticizes the series, calling it “uninspired”, “insipid” and “creative[ly] bankrupt” and feeling it was “clearly designed by its publisher to ride the magical girl tsunami for all it was worth: the creators’ marginal notes are filled with references to big book signings, photo shoots, and models hired to dress as the scantily clad preteen heroines.”

So how does this end up in an elementary school library and in the backpack of a second grader? And what can a parent do about it?

I would email or call the librarian and the principal and ask for a twenty minute meeting regarding concern over the content of a book my child checked out from the library. I would have a pre-written list of talking points that I would like to address right before I request the book and others like it be taken off the shelves of the elementary library. Some of my talking points would be:

-The images in these books are for older teen and adult readers. They unfairly place adult concepts of female sexuality onto the young children who would be reading this book. It is age inappropriate.

-The images show young looking girls in sexualized dress and poses, suggesting that prepubescent girls are available and willing sex partners or sex objects.

– The images of the sexualized girls suggest to female readers their sexuality (or pending sexuality) is the number one characteristic they will be valued for. Similarly, it suggests to young male readers that objectified female sexuality is normal and even to be expected.

– The image of an angry looking male grabbing a smaller, younger looking female by the shoulders while telling her she “needs to wear a bell” is dehumanizing and shows tolerance for dating violence.

-Exposure to early sexualization can cause body image issues, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, poor school performance, bullying, and early promiscuity in girls. This has no place in our schools.

An illustration from the book "Tokyo Mew Mew".

A second grader brought home "Tokyo Mew Mew".

Another illustration from "Tokyo Mew Mew".

So what would you do and say if you were in Rebecca’s shoes? And how would you explain this to your young child?