Feminism | Posted by Aiyana R on 01/2/2013

It Starts In Childhood

This is the 21st century and women are somehow still being undermined all over the world. Incredible, isn’t it? But what is the problem? What is making this cycle continue through all the years of fighting for women’s rights and increasing respect for women? Well, I have a theory.

The other day I was playfully fighting with my little brother. I had him locked down and told him he should give up. He told me he couldn’t because it was humiliating to lose to a girl. Of course, this is cliche and we hear it often. However, he also said that I couldn’t win because I was supposed to be weak. Then something clicked in my head. He’s just a child. He couldn’t have just imagined up this idea that women are weaker than men. He had to have been taught this.

When little boys want to fight and play rough with girls, what do adults say? They say, “You can’t hit a girl!” The explanations may vary, but the idea is the same. I never understood this because I always wanted to play rough, too. By no means am I saying that we should tell boys to go and beat up the next girl they see, but I’m suggesting that maybe if we’re going to let boys play rough then it isn’t a horrible thing for girls to play rough, too. Or maybe, if parents don’t want their kids to play rough, they should think of a different way to convey that than to enforce gender stereotypes and double standard.

This isn’t the only example, either. In this society, small comments such as, “Cool story, babe. Now go make me a sandwich,” and the more classic, “You throw like a girl,” are not helping the feminist cause. When small children hear these things, they start to think that it’s true, even if it’s a joke. Maybe if they were somehow raised to see boys and girls as perfect equals, things might be different. Women might then make the same salary as men in the future. Just think about what goes into the heads of kids. Something as seemingly small as telling girls they can’t win a fight sticks with them. That, combined with all the other “little” sexist comments and treatment all add up, holding women back later in life in much bigger ways.

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  • Giavona Jackson @ at 10:24 pm, January 5th, 2013

    Great feature! You make valid points! Please continue to to voice your opinions and share them with the world; both are a contribution to the feminist movement!

  • keta @ at 7:20 pm, January 6th, 2013

    Well said Aiyana

  • Maya @ at 7:54 pm, January 7th, 2013

    Great post and very thought provoking.

    My son is two years older than my daughter. I taught them both they shouldn’t hit but I tried very hard not to say my son shouldn’t hit his sister because of her gender.

    My daughter always played rougher than my son. When she tackles him as she sometimes still does I’m very careful not to get on his case if he pushes back when she started it. He has every right to defend himself, and as I told my daughter she can’t jump on him and not expect retaliation.

    Of course it’s just play, they’re very good friends. They’re also tween/teen now so it’s becoming rare to see them without headphones and their laptops.

    Something else I’ve noticed is the different Physical Education standards in place for boys and girls. My son is not athletic by any means. He usually places average on PE standards. He was complaining to me that girls have to meet different standards yet some girls are able to do more than he can.

    I asked if it bothered him, he said no but he wished he was ranked on the girls’ scale because he’d place better. I had to laugh.

    I wonder if there is a way to revamp these fitness tests without making it about gender, at least in the middle school/ high school years when everybody is growing at different rates. My son is small for his age, puberty is late visiting our house (as it was for me). Even otherwise, there will always be girls who will be able to run circles around him as he well knows.

    Meanwhile he has no problem competing with girls in math & science. His sister is as strong in those areas as he is even though he’s more advanced because he’s older.

    I’m an electrical engineer so he has grown up with first hand knowledge that girls can be engineers same as boys. I’m hoping they both follow in my footsteps, even though I know they need to carve their own paths.

    We rightly focus on teaching our girls they can be and do anything. However, I think the missing link is our boys. I don’t know if we’re doing enough to make sure they learn the same lessons.

    Perhaps we shouldn’t ask the preschool boy to tone it down if he is playing with a preschool girl vs a boy?

    As you said, this doesn’t mean allowing him to hit but we shouldn’t have double standard play rules.

    Thanks for this post!

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