I am have just tallied up the pictures in my 5 year old daughters school work book. 21 pictures of women/girls – 93 pictures of boys/men. The icons denoting different difficulties of tasks are all men doing sports – running, cycling and Weight lifting.
Back at my old primary school, every year there was an event called the “Western zones”; essentially a multi-day sport contest between the eldest two years of kids from primary schools in the area, the winners of which would go on to represent the region in our city-wide games. In this, instead of track & field events, we all had to choose two sports to play in from a list of four. There was football (soccer), rugby, netball and volleyball. Now, I’ve never been an athletic person. I’m fat. I always have been. But, that’s a different can of worms. My first year, I chose football and netball. I’d never so much as stepped on a netball court during a casual lunchtime game, so I had no clue what was going on. The one time the ball actually came my way, I did manage to pass it correctly to my teammate, so I guess that went ok. But when it came to the football, I actually kinda kicked ass. I had chosen football because I genuinely enjoyed it (despite how rarely I played), and netball because I thought I “should”. It’s always been presented as a girls’ game, right? And yet, I was bored stiff during that game. In the football match, I was shooting and passing and shadowing like nobody’s business. Even this one boy, who’d been my “arch enemy” since year 2, commented on how well I was playing (this kid was English, so he was pretty much treated as an authority on the sport). And he sounded surprised. I know, it was most likely because I’d never once showed any enthusiasm for sport before this at school. But part of me always suspected it was also because I was a girl. Don’t get me wrong, that little bit of encouragement really boosted my confidence for a good while. He’d just sounded a little too amazed, if that makes sense. Either way, next year I opted for volleyball instead of netball. Would’ve made Sakura Avalon proud.
Attended a Mother’s Day assembly at my children’s school today. Song after song about how mums do all the cooking and the cleaning and the washing and that’s why our children love us so. Sad and cross that my children are being taught to see mothers primarily as cleaners and cooks. It is 2016 and schools are still teaching children stereotypes from the 1950’s: women cook and clean, men work. The Dads don’t get a special assembly on Fathers Day, they get a bacon butty at a pre-school breakfast because of course all the MEN have important jobs to go to whereas the mums can just put down their Marigolds and spend half the morning in school. Then a few years later schools wonder why they’re struggling to get more girls into STEM sciences. Emailed to complain, waiting to be dismissed as a killjoy.