The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #119441   Message #2590359
Posted By: Azizi
16-Mar-09 - 03:54 PM
Thread Name: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
Subject: Homophobia in Playground Rhymes
The book that I am-now-working will provide multiple examples and anaysis from a folkloric standpoint of the contemporary English language playground rhyme "Down By Banks of The Hanky Panky". Most of the examples of that rhyme are from this Mudcat thread: Origins: Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky.

Some of those examples simply relate the story of a bullfrog who jumps from "banky to banky" but misses a lily pad and falls into the water. However, since 1984, a significant number of these rhymes have added verses that are insulting to pop singer Michael Jackson in particular, and to homosexuals in general. Disclaimer-I am not saying that I believe Michael Jackson is homosexual. I am saying that the text of a significant number of "Down By The Banks of The Hanky Panky" rhymes include verses that directly say or imply this.

The two ways this allegation is included in these rhymes are:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag
Michael Jackson is a fag"


"I pledge allegence to the flag
That Michael Jackson makes me gag
He used to play with little toys
But now he plays with little boys"


In the examples I have collected (from Mudcat and a few other Internet sites) including my own website, the line "he used to play with little toys/but now he plays with little boys" is most often used with the "Michael Jackson is a fag" version. However, it is also used with the "makes me gag" version and other lines with similar rhyming words-including "Michael Jackson is a fad" and even 'Michael Jackson is my dad" (!)

So far, I've found one example of the "used to play with toys/now I play with boys" line in a version of the jump rope/hand clap rhyme "Say Say My Playmate." In that example, the line is presumably spoken by a girl who says "When I was younger I like to play with toys/now I am older I like to play with boys".

I'm wondering if any folks here know any examples of older or contemporary English language playground rhymes that include

1. the line "Pledge allegiance to the flag without any reference to Michael Jackson

2. the line "when I was younger I played with toys, now I am older I play with boys"

3. any direct or indirect references to homophobia

I am presenting these examples for the folkloric record, and also because I believe that people need to be aware of the existence of these kinds of negative messages in children's rhymes and be pro-active about countering them if we want children to grow up without biases against people who are homosexual.

Thanks in advance for any examples or any leads to examples that you might share with me.