Politically Correct Bedtime Stories #Sundayreading

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life and Times is a book by James Finn Garner, published in 1994, in which Garner satirizes the trend toward political correctnessand censorship of children’s literature, with an emphasis on humour and parody. The bulk of the book consists of fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Little Pigs and Snow White, rewritten so that they supposedly represent what a “politically correct” adult would consider a good and moral tale for children.

The revisions include extensive usage of politically correct buzzwords (and parodies thereof), deliberately stiff moralizing dialogue and narration, inclusion of modern concepts and objects (such as health spasmineral water, and automobiles), and often feature a plot twist that reverses the roles of the heroes and villains of the story (for example, the woodsman in Little Red Riding Hood is seen by Red Riding Hood not as a heroic saviour but as a “sexist” and “speciesist” interloper, and Snow White’s evil stepmother ends up with a positive portrayal while the prince and the seven dwarves are portrayed as chauvinistic).

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories was Garner’s first published book (or, in the words of his similarly satirical biography blurb from the book, “his first processed tree carcass”). More than 2.5 million copies have been sold in the United States and it has since been translated into 20 languages. Garner wrote two follow-up books: Once upon a More Enlightened Time: More Politically Correct Bedtime Stories and Politically Correct Holiday Stories: For an Enlightened Yuletide Season,the latter book satirizing political correctness during the Christmas holiday season. In 1998, the three books were compiled into an omnibus collection called Politically Correct, the Ultimate Storybook. All editions of the Politically Correct titles are currently out of print.

James Finn Garner
(distributed for open access by the author)
THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHESFar away, in a time long past, there lived a traveling tailor who found himself in an unfamiliar country. Now, tailors who move from place to place normally keep to themselves and are careful not to overstep the bounds of local decency. This tailor, though, was overly gregarious and decorum-impaired, and soon he was at a local inn, abusing alcohol, invading the personal space of the female employees, and telling unenlightened stories about tinkers,dung-gatherers, and other tradespeople.The innkeeper complained to the police, who grabbed the tailor and dragged him in front of the emperor. As you might expect, a lifetime of belief in the absolute legitimacy of the monarchy and in the inherent superiority of males had turned the emperor into a vain and wisdom-challenged tyrant. The tailor noticed these traits and decided to use them to his advantage.

The emperor asked, “Do you have any last request before I banish you from my domain forever?”

The tailor replied, “Only that your majesty allow me the honor of Grafting a new royal wardrobe. For I have brought with me a special fabric that is so rare and fine that it can be seen only by certain people – the type of people you’d want to have in -your realm – people who are politically correct, morally righteous, intellectually astute, culturally tolerant, and who don’t smoke, drink, laugh at sexist jokes, watch too much television, listen to country music, or barbecue.”

After a moment’s thought, the emperor agreed to this request. He was flattered by the fascist and testosterone-heavy idea that the empire and its inhabitants existed only to make him look good. It would be like having a trophy wife and multiplying that feeling by 100,000.

Of course, no such rarefied fabric existed. Years of living outside the bounds of normal society had forced the tailor to develop his own moral code that obliged him to swindle and embarrass the emperor in the name of independent craftspeople everywhere. So, as he diligently labored, he was able to convince the emperor that he was cutting and sewing pieces of fabric that, in the strictest objective sense of reality, didn’t exist.

When the tailor announced that he was finished, the emperor looked at his new robes in the mirror. As he stood there, naked as the day he was born, one could see how years of exploiting the peasantry had turned his body into an ugly mass of puffy white flesh. The emperor, of course, saw this too, but pretended that he could sec the beautiful, politically correct robes. To show off his new splendor, he ordered a parade to be held the next day.

On the following morning, his subjects lined the streets for the big parade. Word had spread about the emperor’s new clothes that only enlightened people with healthy lifestyles could see, and everyone was determined to be more right-minded than his or her neighbor.

The parade began with great hoopla. As the emperor marched his pale, bloated, patriarchal carcass down the street, everyone loudly oohed and ahed at his beautiful new clothes. All except one small boy, who shouted:
“The emperor is naked!”

The parade stopped. The emperor paused. A hush fell over the crowd, until one quick-thinking peasant shouted: “No, he isn’t. The emperor is merely endorsing a clothing-optional lifestyle!”

A cheer went up from the crowd, and the throngs stripped off their clothes and danced in the sun, as Nature had intended. The country was clothing optional from that day forward, and the tailor, deprived of any livelihood, packed up his needle and thread and was never heard from again.

(Any resemblance to the country, its rulers, its policy decisions, its judiciary and its people is clearly a complete figment of your imagination, and you should be ashamed of harbouring such unworthy thoughts)

Tulika offers books for children in Braille #DISABILITY

Books in Braille

Some of Tulika’s books are available in Braille. They have been adapted by Third Eye and are available through their website www.third-eye.org. You can find out more about the books listed below through the book search option on our website.

Bengali Titleswww.third-eye.org

Mukand and Riaz
The King and the Kiang
Who Will Rule?
Putul and the Dolphins
A Silly Story of Bondapalli
Brahma‘s Butterfly
The Snow King’s Daughter
Hanuman’s Ramayan
Vyasa‘s Mahabharata
Pavo Cavo
Pintoo and Giant

English Titleswww.third-eye.org

Mukand and Riaz
The King and the Kiang
Who Will Rule?
Putul and the Dolphins
A Silly Story of Bondapalli
Brahma’s Butterfly
The Snow King’s Daughter
Hanuman’s Ramayan
Vyasa’s Mahabharata
Pavo Cavo
Pintoo and Giant

Hindi Titles   www.third-eye.org

Mukand and Riaz
The King and the Kiang
Who Will Rule?
Putul and the Dolphins
A Silly Story of Bondapalli
Brahma’s Butterfly
The Snow King’s Daughter
Hanuman’s Ramayan
Vyasa’s Mahabharata
Pavo Cavo
Pintoo and Gian


Raising uneasy questions subtly

Published: Sunday, Mar 11, 2012, By DNA Correspondent | Place: Bangalore |

In a rather unusual ceremony, SK Biswas, former director of Indian Institute of Science, released four books by social activists MC Raj and Jyothi Raj in the city on Saturday.

Unlike run-of-the-mill book launching events, the discussion that followed the release was not confined to these four books alone. Larger issues that concern the society like identity politics, development, moral policing and sexuality were interestingly dealt with.

The authors are well-known for having led one of the most powerful Dalit movements in Karnataka. They are the founders of Rural Education for Development Society (REDS), a people’s movement that was started in Tumkur district, and, by now, has spread across almost 2,000 villages of Karnataka.

Shouldn’t it reflect on basic aspects of life like health and sanitation? Saying that these questions are something that he often grapples with, Raj said his novels touch upon them subtly.

Of the four books, three are novels—Blissed Out, Raachi and Yoikana. The fourth book, World Parliament of Indigenous People, is a testament co-authored by Raj and his wife Jyothi. It is based on a first-of-its-kind conference of indigenous people organised at Booshakthi Kendra in Tumkur last year.

“The big question that Raj poses in all his books is that can human beings free themselves from the multi-dimensional hierarchy of caste, class, and gender posed on individual identity by the society,” Biswas said.

Idea of Heterosexuality Traced to German Law

Cover of "Virgin: The Untouched History"

Cover of Virgin: The Untouched History

Sunday, February 5, 2012

By Hanne Blank

The revision of legal codes in Germany in the 1860s raised questions about sexual misconduct, says Hanne Blank in her book “Straight.” In this excerpt, she examines how that led to the creation of the concept of heterosexuality and homosexuality.

(WOMENSENEWS)–Had the German-speaking world not been going through some legislative growing pains in the 1860s, we might still live in a world without heterosexuals.

Germany came together in 1866 along geographic lines that are more or less familiar to us today, an amalgamation of the multiple German-speaking kingdoms, duchies and principalities of the North German Confederation joined together under a generally Prussian leadership. Like many civil governments, Germany was still wrestling with the implications of the French Revolution, as well as feeling the aftershocks of its own revolutionary conflicts in 1848.

The new ideals of secular and civil government compelled German lawmakers, as they revised their legal codes to suit a new, composite nation, to figure out what to do with inherited collections of sex-related laws that were often more or less identical to old Church decrees.

It was a fraught process. Paragraph 143 of the Prussian Penal Code of April 14, 1851, in particular, provoked significant protest. P. 143 stipulated harsh punishments, consisting of up to five years of hard labor and accompanied by the loss of civil rights during the period of punishment, for anyone convicted of “unnatural fornication between people and animals, as well as between persons of the male sex.” The rationale given for this law, and the severity of its consequences, was that “such behavior is a demonstration of especial degeneration and degradation of the person, and is so dangerous to morality.”

The law, clearly written to sound dispassionate, nonetheless sounds the old familiar religious gong of morality and sin. As befitting a post-Enlightenment, science-respecting culture, the law invoked nature as both a stand-in for God and a dispassionate secular authority. The addition of degeneracy made it au courant with fears of a decaying race.
Sexual Misconduct Targeted

Taken all together, P. 143 provided highly effective leverage against sexual misconduct for the government. It also, inevitably, provided the same for blackmailers. Officially or unofficially, it was a law to ruin lives with.

Among the individuals who stepped forward to oppose the law were Karl Ulrichs and Karl-Maria Kertbeny. They were not friends, though they corresponded for a while, and only Ulrichs is known to have been attracted to men. But both shared the conviction that P. 143 was unjust and it is due to their work that we have the word and the concept of the “heterosexual.”

Ulrichs’ devoted opposition to P. 143 stemmed from his having been sacked from a promising bureaucratic career when his attractions to men were discovered. The injustice led him to devote his life to arguing, as logically and as rigorously as he could, that same-sex sexuality was natural, inborn and unchangeable, and therefore ought not to be punished.

Ulrichs was no scientist, but he scoured the medical literature for insights into his own sexual condition. Impressed by medical literature about hermaphrodites, he developed a theory that he too was a type of hermaphrodite. Where hermaphrodites’ bodies encompassed both male-typical and female-typical organs in the same body, Ulrichs claimed that the Urning, or man who loved men, had a male body but a female mind. (The notion that gender–the social aspects of sexuality–might be separable from biological sex did not become widespread until the second half of the twentieth century.)

Ulrichs’ theory of “sexual inversion,” rigorously logical by the standards of the day, was presented in 1864 in a pair of pseudonymously self-published pamphlets. Ulrichs hoped that his pamphlets would persuade German legislators to change their minds and thus the law.

Austro-Hungarian Kertbeny shared Ulrichs’ conviction that the Prussian law was unjust. A friend and coworker’s suicide, committed because a blackmailer threatened to expose the young man’s “abnormal tastes,” had opened Kertbeny’s eyes to the problems inherent in a law that made it illegal for two men to engage in activities that a man and a woman could partake of together without consequence. Kertbeny produced two strongly worded, anonymously published pamphlets arguing against P. 143 that employed the notion of human rights as derived from the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.

Varying Approach

Ulrichs’ and Kertbeny’s approaches differed in many ways. While Ulrichs leaned on the innate femininity of the Urning psyche in order to emphasize the involuntary character of same-sex desires, Kertbeny insisted that men who loved men were typically manly and virile and deserving of full citizenship in the modern state. Ulrichs’ approach, with its insistence that men who loved men were on some level not male, implicitly endorsed the idea that biological sex could be legitimate grounds for different treatment under the law. Kertbeny, by contrast, took a leaf from English philosopher Jeremy Bentham‘s book and argued simply that it was wrong to punish actions that harmed no one and all the more unethical to punish them selectively according to the biological sexes of the participants.

The two men shared a moderately sized correspondence, but Kertbeny never adopted Ulrichs’ models or his terminology. He preferred his own system of classification, first explicated in a letter to Ulrichs on May 6, 1868, in which he opposed “homosexuals” to “heterosexuals” as two parallel and, he implied, equal types of human beings.

As it turned out neither man’s argument, nor their associated terminology, made any dent in the law. P. 143 and similar laws were retained through multiple incarnations of the German legal code, later becoming P. 175 in 1871 when Germany was fully united. Later, and infamously, Hitler used this law to legitimize the incarceration and murder of thousands of Schwulen, or “faggots,” in the concentration camps.

The law was not removed from the books until 1969. By that time, the “heterosexual” and “homosexual” terminology of those who had so stalwartly resisted it in the beginning had won out, and so for the most part had the view of sexuality those terms implied.

Excerpt from “Straight” by Hanne Blank. Copyright 2012 by Hanne Blank. Reprinted by permission of Beacon Press, Boston.

Hanne Blank is a writer, historian and public speaker whose work has been featured everywhere from Out to Penthouse. She is the author of “Virgin: The Untouched History” and seven other books that explore the intersections of sexuality, gender, the body and culture. She has been a visiting scholar at the Institute for Teaching and Research on Women, as well as an instructor, guest lecturer and visiting speaker at colleges and universities, including Tufts, Brandeis and Johns Hopkins.

For more information:

Buy the Book, “Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality“:

Hanne Blank’s website:


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