this tree has two friends.
Why this diatribe against the Giving Tree? I opened up the Boston Globe this morning (Saturday 1/7)and saw that the front page of the Living section. Giving Trees was the title of the main story. It seems that a 13 year-old boy was inspired by the book and setup a charity event where artists created mini-trees to be auctioned off. The proceeds are going to fight illiteracy. The article has this line about the Giving Tree: ..."the Giving Tree", which has an underlying message about generosity (p10). I'm happy that the boy was able to misconstrue the book's message (much like Christians who reflect on the genocidal flood story as a love letter from God to his elect), and in doing, light a candle in the night. However, the book is still deplorable, and not to be taken seriously as a moral tale (again, just like a vast majority of the Bible).
Some of you may think I'm overreacting, that a book about a little boy getting whatever he wants to the detriment of another is a dandy story to tell kids. But there was another noxious facet of the book that I wasn't aware of. Two months ago I had a conversation with the Wife and her BFF. Somehow the book came up in conversation.
Me: God, I hate the Giving Tree.
BFF: Oh yeah, its totally a sexist book.
Me: What do you mean?
Do you the look you give theists when the theist says something completely off the mark? That was the look they gave me.
Wife: The tree in the book is female.
Me: Really? Are you sure?
They give me the look again.
Obviously, I was a bit... resistant, let's say about the tree being female. I found it odd that I could have missed such a point. I've looked through the book a number of times, but how did this major aspect of the story slide pass me? Could it be that, that my being a guy somehow blinded me to the fact that the boy/man in the story slowly decapitates the female character? And she likes it?
I had to look at the book again. If there were only one reference to the tree being female, then perhaps I wasn't completely blinded my penis (more politely referred to as a male bias). Confidently I walked into the library with my daughter, and as she was looking at her own book, I peered into the Giving Tree.
Well, it appears that I was blinded by my genitalia. There were a few references of the tree being feminine in the book. Though I love to be right (ask any of my close acquaintances, I practically shiver with delight when I'm told I'm right about something) I was woefully ignorant.
If nothing else, the above story is an example of how the practice of skepticism can trump our species tribalism and predilection to defend beliefs regardless of whether said beliefs are based in reality. New data on any subject should not simply be ignored simply because it does not confirm our pre-existing beliefs.