You guys, something really weird has happened. I don't quite know how to deal with it, and I just hope that you'll be with me to find a way out of this dense thicket of bizarritude back to the clear, high plains of logic. Just brace yourselves - this is far, far stranger than anything we've dealt with before.
The Daily Mail published a feminist article.
Assistant Professor of Sociology at Florida State University, Janice McCabe, has conducted the most comprehensive study ever of gender bias in children's books, and found that male lead characters outnumber their female counterparts by up to two to one. This disparity was particularly notable with animal characters - male animals star in 23% of books per year from 1900-2000, while female animals lead in only 7.5%. You can even read the full study here to double-check that the Mail's reporting is accurate.
And... it is: they pretty much reported the research straight, free of the snidery and derision which characterises their usual approach to any story which sort of suggests that maybe there is such a thing as sexism and maybe it kind of a little bit might impact on ladies' lives, ish.
I mean, they try to disguise it with the headline (put "sexist" in "scare quotes" and you have "basically won the argument", I guess?), and an intro paragraph saying the research damns all children's books as "inherently sexist", which will "will baffle fans of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Anne of Green Gables and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" (ah yes, three books out of an entire century of fiction: you "win"!) ... but the rest of the article just tells you the plain old facts of life, libraries and gender bias with no attempt to belittle the findings, diminish their importance or argue them away with a tirade of blusterous inanities about IT'S POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD blah blah green sheep is this what we fought the Nazis for.
Which is cool! And weird! The Daily Mail: bringing feminist academic research to my attention! I mean: I know the number of people who read past the headline isn't high, and the number of those who read past the first paragraph is even lower, but that usually doesn't put Mail writers off: anywhere they see an opportunity to stick the reactionary knife in, swish-squelch in it goes. So I shall chalk this one up as a tentative victory for righteousness everywhere. We have taken the Daily Mail: the citadel is ours.