Monday, March 14, 2005

In Maine, a debate over 'racy' manga in libraries

In Portland, Maine, school and public libraries are coming under fire for stocking manga such as Tokyo Mew Mew and Peach Girl that feature female characters "dressed in sexy outfits and sometimes behaving in ways that conform to sexist stereotypes."

The Portland Press Herald reports that in a column in the Deering High School newspaper, senior Colleen Hagyari questioned spending tax dollars to purchase "written garbage" like Tokyo Mew Mew.

"The innuendo is so heavy," Hagyari told the Press Herald. "By buying something so trendy and obviously new and exciting, they want to bring kids to the library. But it wasn't done carefully."

School librarian
Ellen McCarthy defends the purchases, noting that Peach Girl is recommended by the American Library Association. "I hope we don't get censors pounding at the door to get the books removed," she said. "A lot of people might say they shouldn't be in a school library, but kids are reading them and they appeal to reluctant readers."

Melissa Orth, the young adult librarian at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, is a little more blunt.
"It's a different culture," she said. "America is on its own by being quite puritanical in its morals. The rest of the world isn't like that."