Welcome to the second week of the A to Z challenge, and Girls v Boys.
I’m a feminist – a bold statement, but one which is close to my heart. I didn’t chose to be, can’t remember reading anything that set me off or knowing a woman who was a role model for feminism in my youth. All I know is I have always been tuned-in to pick up on any inequality in, or stereotyping of, female roles.
In my late twenties I had a job with a recruitment company. My boss was just about to hire someone to work alongside me, doing effectively the same job. She was discussing with me what salary she should offer. She decided on £18K. ‘But that’s two thousand a year more than I’m on,’ I objected, quite reasonably. She said: ‘He has a family to support. And he’s a man.’ I kid you not.
Anyway, fast forward to parenthood. You can imagine how resistant I was to traditional gender roles. In our household quite a lot is reversed: I lived on my own for many years and jobs like putting together flat-packed furniture, wiring plugs, or putting up shelves or blinds generally falls to me. That is, hubby doesn’t get a look in. He loves cooking, which is more than fine by me. I do the washing and ironing; he puts out the rubbish. I manage the money; he earns most of it. We’re a modern mix, and I figured this was a great environment for a daughter to be born into.
Toys – she’s had a train-set and building blocks, alongside fluffy teddies. Clothes – blue and red and green feature strongly amongst the (undoubtedly preferred) pink. But at only 2 years old she would point at a certain page in the Next Directory and declare: ‘That’s a boy’s bedroom.’ ‘How do you know?’ I’d ask. ‘Because it’s blue, Mummy.’ You could almost hear the unspoken ‘Duh!’
Where did she pick this up from? Now, at five, she is displaying an alarming disdain for boys. Apparently at school their play is very much ‘girls versus boys’. I’ve indexed enough early years child care books lately to know that nurseries and pre-schools are still having to be reminded not to reinforce gender stereotypes or gendered play. I guess it just really is in the genes. My daughter loves pink, and dolls, and playing with babies. And she says boys smell 😉 But I’ll still grind on and do my best to remind her as she grows up that she can follow a path of her own choosing, and she doesn’t have to conform.
We haven’t even got to Disney films yet … Argghhh!