Tag Archives: children

Erin

One of my son’s favorite books is a cute little board book about toddlers pretending to be superheroes. Of course, all these superheroes are boys. I pulled out my sharpie and changed one page from “he” to “she” so at least there’s one girl represented.

Rhiannon

I just submitted the following complaint to the BBC regarding a children’s programme: At 15:23 in the episode ‘Sinker’s Return’ of Swashbuckle, the two male crew characters (Cook and Line) hug the female captain character (Sinker) against her will. They do it because they are glad to see her, but she is making it quite clear (verbally and with body language) that she doesn’t want to be hugged, they physically trap her to hug her (in a rather uncomfortable position for her), and she doesn’t look particularly pleased when hugged. The whole thing is presented as being funny. This promotes rape culture, by telling children of an impressionable age that – it’s OK to initiate physical contact with someone against their will – it’s OK to initiate physical contact with someone despite their expressly refusing consent – it’s OK to physically obstruct someone from leaving an uncomfortable situation and trap them in order to make physical contact with them Even though the hugging is not in the least portrayed as sexual, this scene still depicts attitudes that can normalise rape situations. Girls may feel less able to resist if they don’t want to be touched, if they have seen at a very young age that even an ostensibly powerful woman (a ship’s captain) is unable to resist unwanted physical contact from men who are ostensibly her subordinates. Similarly, boys will feel more enabled to pressurise girls. The scene could still have been shown, but there should have been some acknowledgement that what Cook and Line were doing was wrong and that Captain Sinker’s body belongs to her. It could have been a very powerful positive message to girls if Captain Sinker had been able to refuse Cook and Line’s hug, or at least chastise them for it. This seems like a lot of responsibility to put onto a single scene in a children’s programme, but it is the constant drip of such scenes that builds the attitudes of the next generation.

Olivia

I babysit three children every friday, but I rarely see the older sister, so mostly it’s just two boys. They fight quite often, and almost evrytime, to anger his little brother, the older one would call him “she”, and generally speak to him as if he was a girl, like “oh, she’s afraid !”. It’s not been going on for a long time, but I’m trying to think of a way to make him understand that being a girl should not be an insult.

Alice

Last week me and my boyfriend were talking with his aunt about the difficulties of disciplining children if you are naturally mild-mannered. Then she said “then again maybe you’ll end up having girls, so you won’t have to worry about bad behaviour”. This attitude makes me so angry, as I feel like it diminishes the hard work my parents put into raising me and my sisters, knowing that we caused them every bit as much trouble as our male cousins and classmates caused their parents. I also remember my aunt once complaining to my mum about how hard it was being a parent when her boys were playing up. My mum said “oh, I know”, and my aunt replied angrily “no, you don’t know how I feel, you’ve got girls, it’s not the same”. (My mum had had to pick my sister up from the police station only earlier that week). I also encountered this attitude while working as a classroom assistant – every teacher I worked with had an assumption that boys were naughty and girls were “good”, but it just didn’t match what I saw. As far as I could see, the girls were every bit as capable of being rude, disruptive, disobedient and mean to other children as the boys, but it wasn’t acknowledged by the teachers. It was quite surreal. I feel like it’s an insult to girls, because while “good girls” receive praise for being obedient, there is also an element of assuming that they are boring, and lack personality and spark. At the end of the day, these assumptions of girls as meek and obedient make girls less visible and it minimises their personalities and individuality.

Rhonda

I am 57 yrs old, divorced for the second time. The first time around I was young, barely 18 and accepted the role of the woman of the house. Of course, I also did everything he did not do, including the ‘traditional’ male things. The second time at age 35, before marriage we had an agreement of our roles, that never happened. What was so confusing is that before we were married he did some of the ‘traditional’ women jobs, and treated me as an equal but also opened doors for me, moved heavy objects, etc and I brought him drinks or food. Once again I was the traditional woman of the house, stuck with all the housework and childcare, shopping, meal planning, preparing meals, taking care of children and all things associated with them. I never became educated as I have always been the one that needs to adapt to his and children’s schedules, I did try here and there but it always got in the way of their lives. I had 5 children over the space of 16 years, one child with ADHD in the middle and my youngest with moderate autism. I took care of those children completely in every way. Though help with others was limited, but I could get an occasional break. It just never changes, I see it all the time in almost every household, even if the men ‘help’, it is not their job, they are helping their wife. And it does not seem to make a difference if the woman works outside of the home or not, the house is still their job and he just helps. I have 3 granddaughters, I would like to see this change but we seem to be going backwards today, I fear that my granddaughters will never have freedom from this stereotyping of women.

KLO

I am sick and tired of being told that I have ‘time to change my mind’ about wanting a baby. I do not want children. I could not be any clearer on that. I have made that decision and it is the right one for me, and yet I am constantly told by men, women, medical professionals, even strangers, that one day I will change my mind, I’m only young, I’ll wake up one day and suddenly want one, my body clock will take over. Funnily enough male friends who have taken the same life decision aren’t faced with the same dismissal of their choices. They aren’t subjected to the same labels of ‘unnatural’ or ‘weird’ for deciding that children aren’t for them. I once challenged a doctor who took this tack with me. I asked if she would ask ‘are you sure?’ three times of someone who told her that they wanted a baby. Or if in that situation she would begin to offer advice and hand out leaflets, joining in the excitement. I then pointed out that someone who had a baby and later decided they didn’t want it was going to have regrets with far wider reaching consequences that someone like myself who might get to 80 and look back on my life with a wistful ‘what if….?’

Anon

Saw a male representative call large toy animatronic spiders “Very Boys” on a video of a toy fair. I find this kind of ironic considering that female spiders are usually larger than male spiders. Large Tegenaria (House Spider) females are usually what scare people indoors. Female spiders are usually larger because each has a large abdomen for producing eggs. It was clear that the man presenting the toy spiders thought that they would be suitable for “boys only”. I find it kind of sad (given that I am female and interested in spiders) that females are being stereotyped as being “Little Miss Muffett” while the boys are all deemed to be “Spider-man”. I have seen numerous scientific studies that claim that women are more afraid of spiders because the neurotoxins in poisonous ones could damage female reproductive organs. Having a natural fear for self-preservation is a fair point. This however, doesn’t explain how I trained myself to be calm around spiders and read up on which ones are poisonous. It also doesn’t explain the women on the internet who keep tarantulas as pets: one woman even let her spider climb right inside her mouth and out again! It also doesn’t explain the internet videos of petrified men who while shuddering and try to remove a large house spider from the ceiling. The truth is that poisonous spiders can cause men a world of hurt and damage to their reproductive organs also. So please don’t have a go at men who are afraid of spiders: human beings evolved to avoid neurotoxins and this includes a fear response. It is a cultural thing that men are encouraged to suppress their fears and women to express them. In short, everyone starts being somewhat afraid of spiders for bodily preservation reasons. Some people may start out being more afraid than others due to natural variation in the fear response. Tropical spiders that sometimes hitch a ride in bananas can bite and cause organ damage with neurotoxins. However, people can train themselves to not panic and learn about spiders with proper training. With spiders that are safe to handle, people can be trained to be calm and respectful towards the spiders. I remember watching one male professor of Arachnology on the TV. He talked about trap-door spiders and he explained how he managed his intense fear of arachnids by studying them. Everyone regardless of gender should be more educated about wildlife. I am very sad that I live in a house with arachnophobes: because of them I could never keep a tarantula as a pet. I would love to learn more about tarantulas and how to be safe around spiders. It is my dream to handle a tarantula (safely). It is sad that children’s wildlife education is being hampered by toy manufacturers who colour the animatronic butterflies pink “for girls” and call the large animatronic spiders “very boys”. In fact, it is the male butterflies that often have prettier (less dull) colours than female butterflies in real life! I feel lonely, because I was so touched by how a female garden spider would carefully make silken hammocks for her eggs. The spiderlings would hatch out in the springtime. People thought that as a female it was weird that I was interested in spiders. That was until they found a spider in the bath. I have “saved” numerous people at work, school and home by removing the “offending” spider. As a girl, I was fascinated by spiders and butterflies. There are men who study butterflies professionally, so butterflies aren’t just for girls toy companies! I miss “The Really Wild Show” on TV where the presenters taught children of all genders about spiders and butterflies.

Kitty

The fact that as soon as a woman gets married, she gets grilled about when she & her husband are going to start a family. Surely that’s their business & no one else’s?! I also get cross about the fact that women who DO have children & who go back to work after the aforementioned children arrive get lambasted by not only the media but by stay-at-home mums who opted to give up work after THEY had kids, get branded as selfish, made to feel guilty & have comments made along the lines of “why did you have kids if you aren’t prepared to stay at home with them?”, “I didn’t have children to leave them with someone else” & “kids need their mother”, while working fathers get off scot-free. I also get very annoyed about the fact that working mothers get comments made about them “juggling work & family life”, while working fathers don’t have comments like that made about them. I’m not saying stay-at-home dads don’t get crap off society, however, as various comments I’ve read on here (plus a comment I heard someone make about a stay-at-home dad who lives near me) prove that this is definitely not the case.

Tarry

Several things have happened at work in the past week. The first thing was when my male colleagues were discussing the WWE and wrestling. I joined in and proceeded to demonstrate that my knowledge of the topic was greater than any of theirs. One of them asked me if I was a man or a woman, as he couldn’t tell anymore after that. These are the same people who laugh in my face when I insist I am capable of lifting things at work. The second thing that happened is a male colleague openly objectifying women passing on the street. He blatantly gawks at them as they walk by, very conspicuously craning his neck to do so, after which he says “Niiiiice!” loudly and unashamedly. It’s so demeaning. Another male colleague suggested that this behaviour might get him beaten by a man accompanying one of these women, for looking at “their women”. Thirdly, the worst thing to happen was yet another male colleague discussing his 20 month old son. His son has become very aggressive lately and kicks violently when being changed and frequently lashes out at strangers for no reason. I understand this; children need to behave like this from time to time to test their boundaries and so that parents can show them right from wrong and establish these boundaries when they lash out. My colleague doesn’t establish boundaries or reprimand his son. He has told us all that he encourages his son’s aggressive behaviour and is delighted by it, as he thinks it means his son will be dominant when he’s older. Toxic masculinity is instilled at a frighteningly young age. This same colleague mimed head butting me and told me to “watch what [I] say” when I made a half hearted joke that his son would ride a pink bicycle when he’s old enough to have a bike.