Tuesday, July 3, 2007

You can be anything...well maybe anything

I was thinking about how the cultural patriarchy that exists within our culture affects our children. The fact that we value men over women and boys over girls is so prevalent in our culture that we do not even think about it, from the language we use to the advertising on TV. If you want to see more about these issues check out Figleaf who discusses the language surrounding sex and relationships and the constant misogyny or Shakesville where you can normally find a post or more about the detriment to our society that this way of thinking provides.

I want to look at how we tell our little girls they can be anything, we encourage them to be policewomen, fire women, even president of the US. Now I would argue if we really mean that they can be any or all of these things especially president as I am sure that Hilary will not have a chance to win this year as the patriarchy will not allow her to win, but that is another point. We also encourage them to be homemakers or teachers or whatever they want, but what about the boys. We automatically tell them at times even explicitely that their career choices are limited to working in an office, a fireman, a policeman or some other "manly" job. But what if they want to be a ballet dancer or a house husband. (I use these examples because I have seen teachers discouargae little boys from exploring these areas). Men are not supposed to be able to clean or cook or like to do things that are supposed to be more feminine. But the one that kills me and this is almost literally, is being a teacher. We discourage our little boys from being a teacher especially of young children. We accept if they want to teach in middle school or high school as of course they can also be a sports coach so that is OK, but what if they want to teach younger children. What if they want to teach preschool children like I do, what then. I know I get enough strange looks when I tell people I teach Pre-K. They look at me like what is wrong with you, you must be a pedophile or gay (because of course if you are gay you are basically a woman anyway, right). The other response I get is "oh that is so great, these children need more male teachers." Now that may be genuine and sometimes I think it is but that is still a stupid thing to say. We wouldn't say, "now isn't that nice the world needs more women doctors". So then why is it acceptable to say that men teachers are somehow not just teachers and we are men first and teachers second. I also see this happening with male receptionists, airline attendants and nurses where somehow these men are less manly because of their career choice.

Finally, I am not trying to argue that the patriarchy hurts boys more than it hurts girls because well that is just stupid and obviously wrong, what I am trying to argue is that this patriarchy hurts both boys and girls. We need to encourage every child to explore and figure out what makes them the happiest in their lives whether it is being a teacher or a fire person or working in an office.

1 comment:

Tengrain said...

One of my closest friends is a grammar school teacher, and he has had parents pull their kids out of his class, they are so convinced he is a perv.

Oddly, his students continuously test highest in the school; my guess is that by pulling out kids from these sort of unthinking and fearful families, the kids who are left must be pretty well adjusted and/or have parents who work with them on their school work.