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Gender in What Do People Do All Day

June 20th, 2019
gender, kids  [html]
When Lily was little, we had a copy of Richard Scarry's "What Do People Do All Day?" It's a series of short stories describing how different jobs work, and being from the 1960s it presents a world where jobs are strongly gendered. Almost everyone in the book is male, except for children, a few mothers, a grandmother, a nurse, a spinner, a seamstress, and a stewardess. A few years ago I got frustrated with the book and went through and made a bunch of edits. In case you're interested in applying this diff to your own copy, here are the changes I made:
  • Farmer Alfalfa is female.
  • Blacksmith Fox is female.
  • Sawdust the carpenter is female.
  • The postal worker who meets the plane is non-binary.
  • The brushseller is non-binary.
  • Captain Salty is female.
  • Officer Louie is female.
  • The police chief is female.
  • Doctor Lion is female.
  • The train engineer is female.
  • Cookie is non-binary.
  • The airplane pilot is female.
  • The road engineer is female.
  • Gender neutral phrasing for jobs ("firefighter" not "fireman", etc)
Even though this sounds like a lot of characters, the book is still majority male. I didn't change any female characters since there were already so many male ones.

I haven't updated it beyond wording choices around gender: the professions are out of date, the technology is out of date, Wild Bill Hiccup is poorly done, etc. This isn't an attempt to bring the book fully to 2019.

Here's the full list of textual changes:

# p8
# Farmer Alfalfa is female

- Hi Daddy
+ Hi Mama

- He keeps some of it for his family
+ She keeps some of it for her family

- He sells the rest to Grocer Cat
+ She sells the rest to Grocer Cat

# p9

- with some money he got
+ with some money she got

- Alfalfa bought his
+ Alfalfa bought her

- He had saved
+ She had saved

- make his farm work easier
+ make her farm work easier

- he will be able to grow
+ she will be able to grow

- He also bought
+ She also bought

- and his son
+ and her son

- he drove home to his family
+ she drove home to her family

# p10
# Blacksmith Fox is female
- for his shop
+ for her shop

- She earned it by taking such
- good care of the house.

# p12
# Sawdust the carpenter is female
- and his helpers
+ and her helpers

# p15
- He put windows
+ She put windows

- paid the workmen
+ paid the workers

# p17
- postmen
+ postal workers

# p19
- postman
+ postal worker

# The postal worker who meets the plane is non-binary
- He took
+ They took

- He read
+ They read

# p23
# The brushseller is non-binary.

- brush salesman
+ brushseller

- He is trying
+ They are trying

- isn't he
+ aren't they

- salesman
+ seller

# p26
# Captain Salty is female

- and his crew
+ and her crew

# p29

- when he wants
+ when she wants

- helmsman
+ coxswain

# p32
# Officer Louie is female.

- Policemen
+ Police officers

- Policeman
+ Officer

- He will
+ She will

# The police chief is female
- if he has
+ if she has

# p34
- "CATCH THE THIEF!" he says
+ "CATCH THE THIEF!" she says

# p35
- paddy wagon
+ police van

# p36
- Policeman
+ Officer

- He will keep
+ She will keep

# p37

- firemen
+ firefighters

- firemen
+ firefighters

# p38

- firemen
+ firefighters

- fireman
+ firefighter

- firemen
+ firefighters

# p42

- firemen
+ firefighters

- firemen
+ firefighters

# p43
# Doctor Lion is female

- He looked at her tonsils
+ She looked at her tonsils

# p44
- He told Nurse Nelly he was going
+ She told Nurse Nelly she was going

- He told Nurse Nelly
+ She told Nurse Nelly

# p45
- He said she would stay asleep
+ She said she would stay asleep

# p46

- he said
+ she said

- he said
+ she said

# p48
# The train engineer is female

- He doesn't
+ She doesn't

# p49

- switchman
+ switch operator

# p50
# Cookie is non-binary

- He is trying to flip the pancakes
- They are trying to flip the pancakes

- mailman
+ postal worker

# p51

- watchman
+ crossing guard

# p54
# Farmer Alfalfa is female

- on his farm
+ on her farm

- he likes
+ she likes

- He planted
+ She planted

- his cornfield
+ her cornfield

# p55

- He wanted
+ She wanted

- his corn picker
+ her corn picker

- his cornfield
+ her cornfield

- he would need
+ she would need

- he put some
+ she put some

- He kept some ears to eat himself
+ She kept some ears to eat herself

# p56

- He put the rest in his
+ She put the rest in her

- His truck
+ Her truck

- he earned
+ she earned

# p57

- he said
+ she said

# p59
# The airplane pilot is female

- weatherman
+ meteorologist

- He said that he
+ She said that she

# p62

- stewardess
+ flight attendant

- He was told
+ She was told

# p63

- He circled around
+ She circled around

# p74

- firemen
+ firefighters

# p75
# The road engineer is female

- and told him
+ and told her

- and his workers
+ and her workers

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