Saturday, January 24, 2009

We have a long way to go to a gender neutral society

I found this poem while looking at the magazine for the company Syracuse Cultural Workers. The original poem is by Nancy R. Smith and is below.

For Every Woman
By Nancy R. Smith, copyright 1973

For every woman who is tired of acting weak when she knows she is strong, there is a man who is tired of appearing strong when he feels vulnerable.

For every woman who is tired of acting dumb, there is a man who is burdened with the constant expectation of "knowing everything."

For every woman who is tired of being called "an emotional female," there is a man who is denied the right to weep and to be gentle.

For every woman who is called unfeminine when she competes, there is a man for whom competition is the only way to prove his masculinity.

For every woman who is tired of being a sex object, there is a man who must worry about his potency.

For every woman who feels "tied down" by her children, there is a man who is denied the full pleasures of shared parenthood.

For every woman who is denied meaningful employment or equal pay, there is a man who must bear full financial responsibility for another human being.

For every woman who was not taught the intricacies of an automobile, there is a man who was not taught the satisfactions of cooking.

For every woman who takes a step toward her own liberation, there is a man who finds the way to freedom has been made a little easier.

I am not sure there is much else I need or want to say about these two poems. The poem by Smith is still very relevant 35 years later, so much so that it is now being adapted for children. We have so much farther to go in creating a truly gender neutral society. Is this something that will ever exist? I am not sure, but I am trying to make sure that the children I work with realize that no matter what their gender they are free to express themselves however they want. Boys can wear dresses, girls can build with legos and blocks, boys can cook, girls can be good at math and science and boys should want to read. Girls should be competitive with the boys both academically and athletically and boys do not need to feel ashamed when a girl does better than them. Although a gender neutral society may never exist, I will continue to try and do my part to destroy the ideas of the traditional gender roles for those children that I teach. We need to go beyond women are weak and men are strong and recognize that we are all strong at times and we are all weak at times.

NOTE: Sorry for the weak title, but I think I used up all my creative energy writing this post and it is still early and I have not had my coffee or any type of food yet.


Lisa said...

I salute you for what you do to teach you kids to be gender neutral. I know it must feel like swimming against the tide and still you carry on. Some day those children you teach my reflect on that and be grateful.

Anonymous said...

I am SO proud.

Boxer's mom

Comrade Kevin said...

Very well said. Thanks for posting this.

Anonymous said...

As GG has probably told you, I did not try to mold her in any gender. I let her do her own thing. She played with Tonka trucks, graders, diggers and went fishing with Rick. She also learned how to do the things needed to survive in the world, such as laundry, cooking, cleaning etc. She is capable of doing anything in the line of physical work (to a certain degree) within her physical strength. I hope that I did right by her, letting her do what she wanted as far as gender based things. There really was no gender base in our household. I worked jobs that men worked and enjoyed the fact that I could do them. Hope she does too.