Labour’s Emily Thornberry insisted Little Miss books should be renamed today because they suggest ‘women are worth less’ than men.
The shadow foreign secretary waded into the gender row on GMB after viewers were already outraged at the children’s books being labelled sexist.
Ms Thornberry said she did not like the contrast drawn between ‘Mr Men’ and ‘Little Miss’ in the children’s classics.
Her intervention came after journalist Eleanor Mills claimed the books reinforce gender stereotypes, and discourage little girls from being confident leaders.
The GMB debate followed an Australian academic’s comments that the books were misogynistic, because the Little Miss characters are more passive, and often have to be saved by the Mr Men.
Labour’s Emily Thornberry (pictured on GMB today) insisted Little Miss books should be renamed today because they suggest ‘women are worth less’ than men
Journalist Eleanor Mills claimed that the Mr Men books are ‘sexist’ because they teach gender stereotypes
Ms Thornberry told the programme: ‘I don’t like this thing about being little. I think that’s my problem with the Mr Men books.
‘Why do you have Mr Men, and then, Little Miss? It’s something about women being less.’
Ms Thornberry said if the titles were tweaked were changed to ‘Ms’, then she would have no problem being known as ‘Ms Trouble’.
Earlier in the show, Ms Mills joked that Mr Tickle, an orange character with distinctively long arms he uses to tickle his cartoon pals, was comparable to the disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.
But her remarks prompted some viewers to call the debate ‘ridiculous’ and proof ‘the world has gone mad’ on Twitter.
Ms Mills, editorial director of the Sunday Times, said the books discourages women from taking the lead at a young age, and prevents them from being successful when they grow up.
She explained: ‘I think they are sexist. If you look at the narratives in them the women in them are always having to be saved by Mr Strong or somebody like that, and they often have to do domestic tasks for Mr Lazy.
‘If you’re a mum of girls what you’re trying to do now is trying to get them to speak up – to be leaders.’
Viewers slammed her comments on Twitter, saying it was proof that ‘the world’s gone mad’
Ms Mills joked that long-armed Mr Tickle, seen right, was comparable to the shamed movie producer Harvey Weinstein, seen left
The names of the Mr Men and Little Miss characters have been questioned, as the male characters often have names with more positive attributes than the male ones.
For example, there is Mr Strong and Mr Brave, while female characters are called things like Little Miss Bossy and Little Miss Chatterbox.
Many viewers disagreed with Mills’ comments, and took to Twitter to vent their frustration.
One said: ‘Sad day when innocent children’s books are deemed sexist Mr Men let kids be kids!’
‘Most ridiculous debate #GMB #MrMen,’ another posted.
A third ranted: ‘How can people find Mr Men and Little Miss books offensive? They’re meant to be fun books for kids – soon we will have the fun sucked out of everything.’
The Mr Men characters are often portrayed in a more positive light than the female characters with names like Mr Strong
The Little Miss characters have names with negative connotations, like Little Miss Bossy
Arguing on the other side of the debate was Chris McGovern, the chairman of the Campaign For Real Education, who read out a mock letter written by Mr Silly, in which he took credit for deliberately sparking the debate because it was nonsense.
McGovern said: ‘I wish we would stop foisting adult neuroses on young children – give them a childhood. Girls, by the way, benefit hugely from all this because they outperform boys at primary school, secondary school and university.’
Piers Morgan pointed out that the monarch, Prime Minister and commander of the Metropolitan Police are all women, so it is possible for little girls to grow up unaffected by gender stereotypes.
Piers Morgan pointed out that the monarch, Prime Minister and commander of the Metropolitan Police are all women
Mills was debated by Chris McGvern, the chairman of the Campaign For Real Education, who said girls outperform boys in school
But Ms Mills disagreed, insisting the narratives and even the names of characters in the children’s books had misogynistic undertones.
She explained: ‘Its all very well for you to ridicule it as Mr Silly, but we actually still have a massive gender pay gap. We may have girls doing well at school, but we do not have lots of women running companies, there are still only seven women running FTSE CEO companies, and that goes back to the stereotypes that we feed our daughters.
‘If you say to them that if they’re a leader they’re bossy, [or] if they talk they’re a chatterbox, [we’re] never going to get women running things.’
Ms Mills said that the lack of representation of women in leadership roles is down to stereotypes enforced when they are young