“Boys are Presidents. Girls are First Ladies,” explains I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Girl!, a children’s book published amidst the cultural revolution that was second wave feminism. The book, written and illustrated by Whitney Darrow, Jr., appears of course to preach archaic rules of male and female occupation and behavior: in the home, the man creates and the woman nurtures, and at work, the woman serves under the man.
But in defense of the silly little book, the insightful Maria Popova recalls that Darrow was a renowned cartoonist for The New Yorker, known for his biting wit and cultural satire. Perhaps this text, though geared at children, means to poke fun at the absurdity of gender inequality. There’s no way to be certain, but the playful illustrations serve to support this claim, and I like to think of the American Revolution-esque illustration of “Boys are Presidents. Girls are First Ladies” as an homage to the flirtatious yet firm letters Abigail Adams wrote to John asking that he “remember the ladies” when building a government, advice that sadly went unheeded for centuries. But that might just be wishful thinking.
Be it satire or an upsetting relic from a time when women were even more oppressed than today, this little book is sure to provoke and intrigue. Take a look.
Thanks to Brain Pickings
Images via Brain Pickings
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