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Thomas The "SEXIST" Tank Engine?


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PC controller gets steamed up over Thomas 'the Sexist' Tank Engine



By David Wilkes

Last updated at 1:17 AM on 10th December 2009



If you thought the television tales about Thomas the Tank Engine were merely light-hearted fun, think again.

In fact, they portray a world blighted by a 'conservative political ideology' and a rigid class system which stifles self-expression. And they are sexist.

That, at least, is the view of a female academic who took the trouble to analyse 23 episodes of the programme inspired by the books of the Rev W V Awdry.



article-1234547-0082AD4300000258-578_634x384.jpg 'Demeaning to women': Thomas the Tank Engine stifles self expression and is sexist, according to a Professor



According to Professor Shauna Wilton, women are under-represented in the stories and what few female characters there are tend to have 'secondary' roles or be bossy.








What's more, she has warned that such negative messages about society subconsciously gleaned from the show might even drive its young fans off the rails in later life.

The learned professor was inspired to carry out her study after watching Thomas videos with her three-year-old daughter. While the child was enthralled, her mother was dismayed.

She was left feeling 'uncomfortable' by the way the colourful steam engines are punished if they show initiative or try to change their rank or role.





Her research also highlights the class divide, with Thomas and his fellow engines including Percy and James at the bottom of the social ladder and the Fat Controller, Sir Topham Hatt, at the top.

Any attempt by the downtrodden workers to show initiative or dissent is met with punishment, she found.


In one episode, for example, Thomas whistles impatiently at a police officer and is replaced with a different engine as a punishment for showing dissent.

Professor Wilton, from the department of political sciences at Alberta University, Canada, wants tighter controls on what is broadcast-to children.


She said: 'We tend to think of children's TV shows as neutral and safe, but they still carry messages.

'Eventually these children will attain full political citizenship, and the opinions and world outlook they develop now, partially influencedby shows like Thomas, are part of that process.'

Laura Midgley, of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, described the research as ' unbelievable nonsense'.

She said: 'I cannot believe anyone has the time and energy to do such a study. I'm surprised she hasn't singled out the Fat Controller as an example of fattism too.

'Children should just be left to enjoy the innocent fun of Thomas without the politically- correct brigade stoking the fires and ruining their enjoyment.'

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