November 13, 2019

Stereotypes about women and migrants persist in Dutch schoolbooks

Filed under: General,History,Literature by Orangemaster @ 4:06 pm

After analysing 16 mathematics books and 17 Dutch-language textbooks used by secondary school students in their first year, Judi Mesman, a researcher from Leiden and her team concluded that they were full of stereotypes about women and people with an ethnic background. As you might expect, men were in greater numbers, depicted in real jobs like scientist and women were not as present and if so, often doing motherly things.

Let’s get into that one first. Is anybody surprised? Probably not, and it’s an easy fix for the future. It’s also easy to understand and prove that kids are sensitive to subtle messages about sex and stereotypes, shaping their world view. However, the truth is, Dutch society has tons of women working part-time – the highest level of part-time workers in Europe and beyond – and being the main carers of children and the elderly, earning less, and not making a serious enough appearance in the boardroom, let alone in other male-dominated jobs. Is it a stereotype or actual social commentary? And will depicting more equality change a system based on men working full-time and women working part-time, even without having children? I’m not optimistic, but feel free to try. Show men doing housework and being fathers instead of babysitting their own children, and show women doing real full-time jobs, not simply standing in as diversity hires.

As for what the Dutch call ‘non-Western migrants’, implying Turkish, Moroccan and the likes (funny enough including Mexicans, but not the Japanese IIRC – that’s a whole other discussion), they are underrepresented and shown in what we used to call ‘blue collar jobs’ as opposed to ‘white collar jobs’, to use classic stereotypes. Ask someone from Suriname in a good job how many times they’ve been mistaken for the cleaner. Sad but true, this is the reality in the Netherlands, which makes these images closer to reality, and I can imagine more painful than hopeful.

Good on the Dutch for wanting to create books with less stereotypes in them, but then there’s always wonderful authors like Sanne de Bakker who wrote a children’s book on Suriname conflating discrimination with facts or even a colouring book for children featuring Hitler that was casually sold at a Dutch drugstore chain.

Please teach children how to count, so that women can make an effort to be financially independent (still 60% are not) rather than rely on a partner, often a man, who might decide to show their maths skills by paring up with someone who is able and willing to be their equal.


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January 30, 2019

Efteling amusement park addresses some of its racist stereotypes

Filed under: General,History by Orangemaster @ 5:00 pm

Calling them ‘hurtful clichés’ rather than straight up racist stereotypes, amusement park De Efteling is finally modernising their collection of African and Asian figures.

The negative comments got enough media attention back in 2014 when an American journalist was ‘shocked’ at the famous ‘Monsieur cannibale’ ride complete with Africans, gold rings and a boiling cauldron (see our previous posts on the topic, it gets into the weeds of the French song itself).

Although there was an action group that pushed for changes, the park said they decided on their own to update their rides, changing the appearance of some 100 figures around the park as well as updating the place with some energy-efficient lighting.

Interestingly enough, no changes have been planned for the Monsieur cannibale ride, but they say it might be updated once it needs maintenance, which sounds like a Dutch compromise.

Tip to foreign media, especially Americans: the more Americans point out the weird-ass colonial shit that still exists in this country, the more people are going to dig in simply because it’s an American telling them what to do, which – pardon the pun – is widely interpreted as a pot-kettle-black situation.

Colonialism and cannibals: deconstructing a Dutch tourist attraction

Opening the racist door: Monsieur Cannibale part deux

(Link:, Photo: Photo of an Efteling dragon by Jeroen Kransen, some rights reserved)

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October 2, 2017

Racist stereotypes of Chinese used in classroom

Filed under: General,Literature,Music by Orangemaster @ 1:42 pm

We saw this go by on Facebook a while back from a teacher, but now that newspaper Parool has written about it in more detail, it’s time to share with you that Dutch schoolchildren have been learning about Dutch pronunciation using unambiguous racist stereotypes about the Chinese.

To learn about Dutch words ending in -ng such as ‘lang’ (tall) and ‘bang’ (afraid), the Laterna Magica elementary school in Amsterdam suggests children read the sentence “Shing, shang, shong plays ping-pong in Hong Kong.” To remember the -ng sound, the textbook says the children need to “make ‘slanted eyes’ using their index fingers”. Next to this comment, there’s a colonial era cartoon of a Chinese man.

Although in use since 2012, the school claims it has replaced this part of the textbook, but a media expert from the University of Amsterdam says the bigger issue is that all the educators and teachers involved in making this book had not given a single thought as to how this would promote racist stereotypes.

To drive the point home even further, the university expert said that children still sing ‘Hanky Panky Shanghai’ sung to the tune of ‘Happy Birthday’ at school birthday parties and use their index fingers to make ‘slanted eyes’. YouTube just gave me a few hits of mostly white people thinking this is normal behaviour.

And to make it a hat trick, the worst we’ve ever heard about the Chinese was a racist carnaval song that was pulled off the Internet featuring the lyrics “A Chinaman cannot see what’s above or below, in fact, he sees everything through a slit”.

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June 29, 2010

Cheese ad misses the mark on ethnic stereotypes

Filed under: Food & Drink,General by Orangemaster @ 11:10 am

There is a lot of cheese adverts in the Netherlands, but this cheese brand usually has beautiful Caucasian/Dutch people frolicking in the fields, with glimpses of breasts.

Here’s how this advert goes:

“In an ideal world, the Netherlands would be one big village.”
– ‘Morning!
– ‘Morning!
Then it goes on to say what farmers and farm girls would look like, emphasising they’d of course be young and have hair, not be old and balding. And eat said cheese brand.

Then we see farm girls, then we name the girls (typical farm region names), then Fatima. The narrator says “Fatima? Ooh, that’s good too!” implying that because she’s pretty, it’s OK. A giggle ensues.

In a time of political backlash against anything not perceived as being traditionally Dutch or Frisian with blond hair and blue eyes, this brand does a good job of throwing in ‘Fatima’ for good measure. The problem is, since the Dutch stereotype is highly exaggerated, throwing in a normal looking, non-exaggerated Fatima just doesn’t work and makes her an anomaly.

In many other Western countries, it’s downright normal for people of different cultures to be lumped in to the identity of a country. I’ve seen Spanish adverts with blonds, Italian ads with redheads and Asian-looking people in adverts of all kinds . They all belong there, but in this case, Fatima just doesn’t.

The message here is that Fatima was put there ‘as a joke’ and doesn’t belong there. Had they exaggerated her, it might have worked. Fatima is an oddball that unfortunately reinforces the Dutch stereotype of what is Dutch and what is not. Remember: 20% of the 16.5 million people in this country just voted for a right-wing, racist and anti-Muslim party in the last national elections.

In my ideal Netherlands, everybody counts, young or old, cheese or not, Fatima or not.

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August 13, 2009

Belgian telecom advert offends the Dutch and Flemish

Filed under: General,Weird by Orangemaster @ 10:36 am

There is no lack of references about Belgians in the Netherlands, often referred to as ‘our southern neighbours’ by the media. When they do something stupid or brilliant, the media is on the front lines either poking fun at them or praising them for their ingenuity. However, poking fun at people’s lesser national traits, albeit a top sport in Europe, is not always appreciated.

The Belgian organisation for ethical advertising (JEP) has reprimanded the new Belgian mobile phone company Vikings because of their questionable slogans. “Gratis is voor Hollanders” (“Free is for Dutch people” – ‘Hollanders’ is a pet name for the Dutch in Flanders) has the press buzzing. The company’s French-language slogan “Gratuit, c’est pour les Flamands” (“Free is for the Flemish”) plays on the stereotype of the Flemish being cheap and is not going over well either.

AustralianSwedish telecom provider Tele2 (shown here) has had adverts in the Netherlands for months using the concept of cheapness. The idea here is two-fold: the sheep are a reference to ‘being cheap’ (the ads in the Netherlands are all in English and subtitled in Dutch) and point out the similarity of the words ‘sheep’ and ‘cheap’ with a talking black sheep standing out from the herd. Although boring to look at more than twice on telly, Tele2 is doing it right, while the southern neighbours are doing it wrong.

Why the cheap jokes? The Dutch have a reputation (deserved or not) of going on vacation to France driving through Belgium with their caravans and bringing all their own food to save on costs. The goal is to enjoy the weather.

The Flemish part of Belgium used to be poor and frugal I would imagine. Today the Flemish part of Belgium (including Brussels or not, technically a governmental no man’s land) is the most dynamic part and the Walloon part has many economic problems.

(Link:, Photo:

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