“This is a serious issue,” wrote 9 year old, María Hjörvar, in a letter to the publisher of a comic book she reads, outlining gender inequality issues that she found worrying. “I’m not trying to tell you off but I am bringing this to your attention because I’m not the only one I know that feels this way.”
María’s mother published the full letter on her Facebook page yesterday which was then posted to news outlet, DV. Because it is important, we have translated María’s letter for you.
My name is María Hjörvar and I am in the fourth grade at Vesturbæjarskóli and I think your Donald Duck comics are really fun. But I find it a little aggravating because I’m a feminist and the women’s roles are played down and the men are you know, more central.
For example: Mickey and Minnie Mouse are out for a walk and she tells Mickey to stop a thief and the question is, why Mickey? And then [he] saves the day. That’s not a lot of fun for me and I started reading these comics very young and have experienced the world with these gender stereotypes but my mum helped me stop that. That’s what I mean when I say that the guys are more central.
And it doesn’t help that in the newest issue there was a chapter called “Daisy Duck’s Fashion Week” and Donald tells Daisy: Whoa! Check out all the glamorous garbs on these ladies.
And most of the women in the Donald Duck comics like Daisy think their boyfriends are terrible and I’m just wondering… why don’t they just dump them then?
Then in the same chapter when Donald and Daisy went out to dinner at a really fancy restaurant and Daisy was all dressed up and Donald was just wearing his regular clothes, some other lady says to her husband: Why does she let her mister dress like that? How embarrassing for her.
What so is [Daisy] supposed to control what clothes [Donald] wears? Then the lady’s husband goes: How disappointing! But he’s the one who should be ashamed.
Wait, now I’m really confused. Is Donald supposed to be ashamed of wearing regular clothes? I think that’s very pretentious.
I’m not trying to tell you off but I am bringing this to your attention because I’m not the only one I know that feels this way.
This is a serious issue and like I said I grew up on the gender roles in your comics and I am afraid that others will too, like my little cousin. She’s flipping through the Donald Duck comics and I’m afraid she’s going to interpret those values as reality and I’m also scared for the other kids out there in the world who read it. Then if the Donald Duck comics stop, those kids will grow up thinking these [gender roles] are the norm and raise their own kids according to those norms and their kids and so on. Some kids aren’t raised this way and don’t teach their children to believe this sort of stuff but even then a friend of the child could teach them about [these gender stereotypes].
So this has to stop.
As I am both a feminist and a believer in equality I don’t think women are better either. It’s just like a scale, women on the left, men on the right. Right now the scale is higher on the right and lower on the left, meaning the men are more in the limelight now. I don’t want the scale to be lower on the right and higher on the left, I just want the scale to be in balance.
But the weirdest thing about all of this is that this stuff doesn’t happen in real life. Us women, well I at the very least, don’t think it was fun back in the day and still is in some countries and I don’t want these beliefs to start up again in Iceland.
The Donald Duck comic books that María refers to in her letter are called Andrésblöð in Iceland. Although Disney created comic books about Donald Duck, notably Donald Duck and Friends, this offshoot was not popular in North America but took off in the Nordic Countries.
In fact, in most Nordic countries, Iceland included, Donald Duck – and subsequently his adventures and comics – are far more popular than Mickey Mouse. It is still popular among Nordic children to read Donald Duck comic books and stacks of Donald Duck Omnibuses litter Icelandic vacation home bathrooms on a national scale.
NEVER CHANGE MARÍA.