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  • Writer's pictureEmily

Subject Stars: Y8 Sherlock Holmes

Ms Alabi’s Year 8 class have recently been working on a piece exploring their individual ideas about sexism portrayed in Sherlock Holmes. One student in particular, Leone, has been highlighted due to a brilliant and perceptive essay about the sexism in ‘Sherlock Holmes’.

Ms Alabi nominated Leone’s hard work for this week’s subject star because of how originally he linked the current social issues in football to 19th century sexism and his dedication shown to his English lessons by logging in virtually at home for a week of lessons to complete work real time! Bravo Leone!

Leone’s amazing work was set after his class finished reading ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Many of the students were ‘taken’ by the character of Irene Adler, one of the few characters to outsmart Sherlock Holmes. The class further discussed ‘the connotations of this type of female character in the face of crime writing’, many of whom are often depicted as ‘a very two-dimensional archetype’. Leone and his peers were then set the research question: ‘Is Holmes sexist and how does it reflect the world we live in today?’ in the hope of seeing how our Year 8s would handle such a pressing topic.

Ms Alabi recounts that Leone’s work left the entire class ‘speechless.’ Here is a copy of Leone’s work fantastic work for you, to read:

Paragraph on Sherlock

‘In “A Scandal in Bohemia” I feel Sherlock Holmes is initially sexist towards Irene Adler because he immediately assumes she is the cause of the King’s troubles and stereotypes her as having dubious cleverness like all women.

Watson cleverly notices Holmes’ attitude, “He used to make merry over the cleverness of women, but I have not heard him do it of late. And when he speaks of Irene Adler, or when he refers to her photograph, it is always under the honourable title of the woman,” implying that after questioning her cleverness as a woman, Holmes can no longer mention her name after she outwits him. As a consequence, he is left unable to pronounce her name and calls her “the woman”.

Holmes is forced to rethink his prejudices towards independent women, who were seen a negative issue in Victorian society. As such, Irene Adlers is presented a dangerous woman causing trouble to men.

Today sexism, sexist language and gender stereotyping are still commonplace in society and we need to challenge these to ensure more people have a better understanding of how to behave towards their peers.

The world of football has been a good example of sexist behaviour for decades. Men generally have prejudices towards women’s football, there is a high level of criticism towards female footballers as not being as good as men, the mocking of female presenters, referees and coaches, and the earning and sponsorship potential being much lower than their male counterparts.

This applies to football as much as anywhere else where there is power and physical strength. There should be more space for gender equality, society should do more to address these issues, and I think that school is a good place to start this conversation.’

Leone makes numerous excellent points and analysis surrounding the sexism in ‘Sherlock Holmes’. Ms Alabi details: ‘His words were so eloquent and thoughtful with his references to real world problems showing how passionate he was about changing the narrative around gender equality.’ We wholly agree and find Leone’s work incredibly educational. Congratulations Leone on your wonderful work and we hope to see more of your opinions out there in the world one day.

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