Misgendering Shirley the Unicorn
I’ve been hearing a few Chicken Littles have gotten all flustered about a new character on The Wiggles.
Meet Shirley Shawn the Unicorn.
It is being reported that this is The Wiggles first non-binary and that her pronouns are “They/Them”.
Some conservative commentators like Lyle Sheldon have gotten their hetero-normative nickers in a knot and written some very stern words about the development.
In a recent Eternity News article, he wrote:
“Shirley Shawn the unicorn might seem like a harmless, colourful, larger than life character but dubbing him/her (or should I use the politically correct pronoun â€œtheyâ€) non-binary, the Wiggles are now helping the rainbow political movementâ€™s project to indoctrinate everyone from toddler to tertiary level into contested genderfluid ideology.”
And: “They preach that just because a baby was born with a penis or a vagina, it doesnâ€™t make him or her a boy or a girl.”
Now, my first question is, why on earth do we NEED a mythical creature like a unicorn who only says the word “Scrumptious” to be either a woman or a man? I mean, they don’t exist! Maybe they reproduce asexually through their horn! Do we really need to wonder whether Shirley has a penis or a vagina?
But more important than the genitalia of a unicorn, the most important question I’ve got is…
where on earth do we get the idea that she is non-binary??
And yes, I said “she”.
And apparently, The Wiggles say “she” as well.
Here are the first couple of verses of her theme song:
“Oh, Shirley Shawn the Unicorn
In the sun she trots
Everybody loves her,
from grown-ups to tiny tots
Oh, Shirley learnt to talk
from a Danish duchess
Her favourite word indeed was the word
That seems to put an end to it. This is the only official statement I could find from The Wiggles themselves and it seems pretty conclusive. Shirley is a she.
Now sure, there is a News.com article that says Shirley is non-binary and even the fan-created “Wigglepedia” website claims:
“Shirley Shawnâ€™s pronouns were revealed to be they/them, making them the first non-binary wiggles character.”
But I can’t find any evidence of where this was “revealed”. I mean, anywhere!
Of course, LGBT websites such as this Pink News article are also reporting the introduction of a gender-diverse character, but I wonder if they actually fact-checked it?
After a bit of digging, I found another interesting claim in a Ladbible article that The Wiggles founder, Anthony Field, said: “I got a beautiful email from someone who said they came out because of Shirley Shawn the Unicorn; they said that we gave them acceptance and helped them accept themselves.”
But again, there is no source for the quote and I can’t find it anywhere else (other than in an Advance Australia article, which just linked back to the Ladbible article).
So, maybe it’s all bs? Maybe people see a unicorn holding a rainbow umbrella and make an assumption about her gender identity.
Maybe people just like to rage without double-checking the facts?
Maybe exciting lies spread quicker than boring truths?
And, whether or not they are supportive or enraged, it is quite possible that all those who are claiming that Shirley is the first non-binary Wiggle character, may be actually committing the cardinal sin of misgendering her.
A friend pointed me to this comment on the Wiggles Facebook Page!
I have emailed The Wiggles directly and asked for them to officially clarify.
Eternity News pointed me to a Wiggles Media Release.
If this is correct, then it seems that it is definitive…
The question may be now… did they misgender Shirley in her theme song?
I heard back from The Wiggles. They have confirmed that Shirley is indeed non-binary and that they have updated their song after being “educated” on the matter.
One wonders what “being educated” means? Did Shirley tell them herself (a bit tricky when all she can say is “Scrumptious”? Did the psychologist who apparently consulted with them about their new show “educate” them about the importance of including gender diverse characters? Or was it a condition of their new contract with their US distributors?
In any case, here is their new updated song for Shirley the non-binary Unicorn. Personally, I think it’s nowhere near as catchy as their original.