Peppa Pig Has Been Called out for Using Offensive Term | 22 Words

Kids' TV shows are usually known for their innocuous drivel that helps keep children quiet for a couple of precious minutes. At best, they are educational, at worst they are hugely irritating.

But now, other things are being brought to people's attention and it looks like they could be causing some pretty big problems. The main culprit is none other than the wildly popular Peppa Pig. Who knew that a kids' TV show could cause such a fuss?

What's so great about Peppa Pig?

Whether or not you have children, you will undoubtedly have heard of many children's favorite TV character, Peppa Pig. As the name suggests, it follows the lives of a family of pigs. Our protagonist, Peppa, lives with her younger brother, George, and Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig.

"The Peppa Pig Effect" is a real thing.

Peppa Pig is a British TV show, so all the characters have quite posh English accents and American parents have recently started reporting that their children have taken up English accents as a result of watching too much Peppa Pig! Apparently, American children are starting to say things like 'mum' and 'loo'. This is the 'Peppa Pig Effect.' But while this is hilarious, it's not the main problem with the show.

Peppa Pig has been in trouble before.

There is an episode of Peppa Pig called 'Mr Skinny Legs'. In the episode, Daddy Pig tells Peppa Pig that she doesn't have to be afraid of spiders because they can't hurt her. This is true in the UK, which means that arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, is usually considered to be an irrational fear. But that isn't necessarily true everywhere in the world.

Australia has had to ban the episode.

While spiders aren't dangerous in the UK, in Australia they pose a real threat. There are over 10,000 species of spider in Australia, and many of them are poisonous. An episode that encourages children to pick spiders up and throw them outside is teaching Australian children the wrong lesson. It could, in fact, be a very dangerous thing to do!

What is the role of childrens' TV shows?

This is a really important question. Should kids' TV just be about escapism and a moment of peace for parents, or should it offer something more? Does it matter what kids are watching or should a kids' show just keep a child quiet?

Kids are sponges.

Young children are like sponges; they absorb everything they see. Their minds are still forming and they are learning from everything around them. For this reason, kids' TV is actually very important. The hours spent watching these shows are hours spent learning from them.

What kind of people do we want our children to be?

For this reason, it's important that we teach children to be open-minded and loving, that they understand that good behavior is important, from a young age. Many of childrens' role models these days are characters in TV shows. Seeing what their favorite characters achieve inspires children to work hard do the same.

Peppa Pig has quite a few controversial aspects.

Before this latest uproar, one person had already called out Peppa Pig for a number of reasons, namely for fat-shaming. Okay so pigs are known for being fat, but it all gets a bit trickier when the pigs represent people, as they do in Peppa Pig.

Is Peppa Pig a bad role model?

Laughing at 'Daddy Big Tummy' encourages children to think they are allowed to laugh at people for being fat. Obviously, if this is carried into the real world, it becomes super uncool behavior. It would be better if characters, and therefore, children, could celebrate each other's differences. Or at the very least, mention that people are all different sizes and that that's okay.

Were you influenced by a character as a child?

Children are affected by their role models, whether they be toys or characters from TV shows, because it is only through seeing other people similar to yourself doing something, that you believe that you are capable of it too.

That's why Barbie has realized it needs to diversify.

Okay, so admittedly, in many ways, Barbie is the worst role model in the history of role models. Her name is synonymous with an unattainable standard of beauty that not even supermodels can hope to reach. But recently, her creators have realized that they need to join the rest of the world in being a little bit more woke and that they need to try to diversify, at least a little. Now, the Barbie figures come in 4  different body types and 7 hair colors. While it's not exactly diverse, it's a start.

Barbie has had more career changes than most!

Barbie is really excelling in terms of the different careers that she has had. So far she has had at least 130 different careers, ranging from astronaut to president. But the one that's really got people talking is the Barbie Firefighter.

Firefighters are very encouraging of Firefighter Barbie.

Recently firefighters in the UK have been trying to tackle sexism that surrounds stereotypes in their profession. Namely, that they are all 'firemen.' This is obviously hugely disrespectful to all the women who are also firefighters, and it suggests to women everywhere that firefighting is not the profession for them.

It is for this reason that the world is up in arms about Peppa Pig.

In a shockingly unthinking display of sexism, Peppa Pig exclaims, "Mummy Pig is dressed as a fireman." And no, it wasn't a staged scene to explain to children that it is the wrong thing to say. It was scripted and aired; seems that no one on the Peppa Pig team thought anything of it.

The public realized the ramifications immediately, though, and they were not happy.

London Fire Brigade reacted and pointed out that they have not used the term 'firemen' for thirty years. So not only is the term sexist, but it's also outdated. They highlight the fact that by using gender stereotypes, they are putting the idea in childrens' heads that they can only do certain jobs.

Some people didn't see a problem with the scene.

Piers Morgan, an English journalist who can be sure to point you in the right moral direction as he launches himself the other way, once again demonstrated his lack of ethics as he questioned the impact of blatant sexism. For some reason, he cannot see how this kind of language could dissuade young girls from potential careers in the future. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that he is a straight, white, cis-gendered, British male with all the privilege in the world. Maybe.

Luckily, there are decent people in the world who are willing to challenge him.

This twitter user highlights Morgan's ignorance by pointing out the effect of these TV shows. It is at their young age that children need to see the options that are available to them in the future, and shouldn't we be encouraging children to do anything that they want to do?

Having daughters can make a huge difference.

This man points out what many of us have witnessed first-hand: having daughters makes you re-evaluate your stance on sexism. This father has clearly seen the effect that a sexist world can have on his daughters and he's not happy about it.

"The Mighty Girl Effect"

In fact, what this father described has a name. It is known as the 'Mighty Girl Effect.' It depicts research that shows that men who live with daughters gradually moderate their views on gender norms. There is even research that suggests that male CEOs with daughters are more likely than those without to take action in championing gender diversity in their work places.

The London Fire Brigade knows what it's talking about.

Although some people might argue that shows like Fireman Sam have a female firefighter, and so that equates to gender equality, we're on side with the LFB here. The involvement of one woman is completely undermined by the repeated use of the term 'fireman' rather than 'firefighter.'

Parents are starting to stand-up for their daughters' futures.

Hannah Summers sparked a huge reaction earlier this year when she tweeted about her daughter, Esme. Apparently, four year old Esme is already somewhat aware of the gender gap, and it is already affecting the choices that she will go on to make. If nothing else, hopefully, this will make it clear that we need to use the term 'firefighters,' rather than the gender specific term, 'firemen'.

Luckily, the world saw the tweet and wanted to help out.

One branch of the London Fire Brigade saw Hannah's tweet and sent a personal reply, just 9 hours later. Their tweet lets Esme know that she wouldn't be alone if she wanted to be a firefighter; there's loads of female firefighters out there!

Other firefighters spoke out too.

It's awful to think that young children may already feel restricted about what they can do in their futures. Childhood is supposed to be a time of infinite dreams, not of gender restrictions. It is for this reason that so many firefighters are trying to demonstrate that gender is not important in the battle to save lives as firefighters. They are definitely living up to their chosen hashtag: #firefightingsexism.

The battle against sexism is a global fight.

Esme's discovery of gender stereotypes at such a young age has crossed the Atlantic and reached all the way to Vancouver. Around the world, people are aware that there is a stigma around female firefighters that needs to be broken, so why didn't the Peppa Pig team realize?

Firefighters aren't the only people who suffer from gender stereotypes.

People were, understandably, outraged about this photo that went up recently of a young girl and boy. While some people were suggesting that the world was taking political correctness too far (something that is usually only claimed by people with privilege that they don't want to concede to equality), other people saw this photo for what it was.

Isn't this all a bit of an over-reaction to kids' stuff?

The problem is that this is happening all the time and it's so subtle that people think that it's not a big deal. By using the word 'fireman,' rather than 'firefighter,' or by suggesting that girls will be nurses, rather than doctors, we are excluding young girls and women from certain occupations and that is undeniably wrong.

Young girls are subtly being told that they will never make as much money as men.

The sexism that is presented to young children at every turn is constantly reinforced by gender expectations. Girls are told that they should be beautiful, cute, or pretty, while boys are told that they need to be brave, strong, or clever. We start forming our ideas at a very young age, and these, in turn, influence our decision-making.

There is no natural difference in interests between girls and boys at birth.

It is not true that boys and girls are born with wildly different interests, which happen to mean that boys choose positions of authority that are paid more, while girls naturally choose roles with less prestige and less money. These are merely the gender roles that the world keep perpetuating. It is for this reason that people found the term 'fireman' offensive in Peppa Pig. So many children watch that show, and they were all told that being a firefighter is a male job and that is not okay.

In some ways, Peppa Pig does provide positive role models.

This Twitter user pointed out that the Peppa Pig books are full of female firefighters and it's true; it's great that Peppa Pig is showing women in these roles! But language is an incredibly important way in which we form our ideas and our identities. We need to speak in a way that reflects the society that we want to be a part of, rather than just copying the way things used to be said in the past.

Hopefully other shows will learn from this mistake.

Ultimately, this was an unfortunate moment of insensitivity but it shows a lack of understanding that, in many ways, belittles both the hard work of firefighters, as well as the battle against sexism. Hopefully, the fact that everyone has noticed, and has rightfully criticised, this insensitivity, will prevent other shows from making the same mistakes. In turn, this should lead to a well-balanced and just society that promotes equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of gender or any other factor.