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Was Aldi wrong to ban Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes?

by Jennifer Muirhead (follow)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma ~ Eartha Kitt.
Question (175)      Banned books (9)      Censorship (4)      Roald Dahl (3)     


revolting rhymes, Roald Dahl, censorship, banned books


The supermarket chain Aldi had Roald Dahl's children's book Revolting Rhymes pulled from their shelves this week after a mother complained that the use of the word "slut" to describe Cinderella was offensive.

What do you think of Aldi's response? When, if ever, is it appropriate to ban a book from sale?

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Top Answers
I can understand the mother's concerns, but I love this book! People need to realise that Dahl's work was published a while ago, and the definition of 'slut' has changed. It used to refer to a girl or woman of untidy habits. The stories are truly harmless. I think, in this particular instance of censorship, Aldi was wrong to pull the books off the shelf. I'm still waiting for Woolworths to pull Zoo off their shelves. Now that is offensive!
by Vee
Yes, I think they were wrong to remove it. There are all sorts of books that for a variety of reasons could be argued to be offensive, if they were all to be banned we would end up in a totalitarian state where no one was allowed to think for themselves. I think we should continue to read books that could b considered offensive and use them to generate debate, whether just with our children, our book club or on a national scale, about why a certain word or attitude is offensive. I have taken this approach with "The Elephant and the Bad Baby" as I truly dislike the poor child in this being labelled as Bad before he has even opened his mouth but banning it would not have helped anyone. Reading it and discussing why the baby might be considered bad but isn't really is far more likely to achieve the result I want. The mother who complained about "slut" should have done the same with "Revolting Rhymes".
I'm actually horrified to hear that such a well known children's book used that word. I guess it comes back to it being an old book, written by an older man. It's a reflection of the culture we live in, and I'm glad someone is doing something about the woman hating language.

I love Roald Dahl, but I think it would be appropriate to publish a new edition of the book where a different word is used. It's time we stopped woman hating, and changing our language is the best place to start!
It's a different, old fashioned sense of the word, meaning "a dirty or slovenly woman". Still misogynist, but not sexual. I've seen an older copy of Mother Goose that uses the same word in one of the verses of Mary Mary Quite Contrary ("wasn't she a dirty slut to sell her bed and sleep in the dirt.")
The way kids will view it is through today's lens though, regardless of the older meaning of the word.
by meggf
Based on your response, Meggf, we'd be banning Enid Blyton and nursery rhyme using words like gay. Children are intelligent beings and understand context, especially when it is openly discussed with parents. If Revolting Rhymes is allowed in schools, city libraries, book stores, etc. then it is not considered a book requiring banning. And after 50 years of being a much loved book I don't believe anyone has been offended by it.

I think banning a book for whatever reason is simply a bad idea all around. And pretty agree completely with everything Vee said.
by Gwen
LOL, thanks Gwen! :D
by Vee
I've looooved this book since I was a teenager! It's hilarious. So what if it's politically incorrect? That's what makes it funny. The meaning of words change, and it will be a sad day when we have to change songs and stories because of the new meaning of a word eg gay, pussy, fairy, rainbow.
I'm not surprised that it was taken off the shelf, even if I don't agree with the reasoning. People don't think about the context, all they think about is the word- this book was written a long time ago when the word 'slut' meant something entirely different to it's current definition!! It's the same with the word 'gay'. If we want children to understand different definitions of words, we have to make the words available in that context. Something similar happened with some of Enid Blyton's books- they changed the names of Dick and Fanny (from The Magic Faraway Tree) to Rick and Frannie because they thought it would better suit modern times (and cause less offence). I'm sure if you explained that they are 'old-fashioned' names to the kids they wouldn't care less. It's just the 'politically correct' adults that are causing the fuss!!!
Backward move. We're in 21st Century now, not 19th! Grow up, & also get a brain. Dumb, dumb, dumb decision. Obviously whomsoever 'decided' to ban it at Aldi is a wimp, & hasn't read too many books!
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