Tuesday, September 30

Reverse sexism?

I am having a bit of an issue at the moment, grappling with the idea of feminism and equality. I know big thoughts.

I watched Emma Watson's speech to the UN and agreed with everything she said. Feminism isn't anti-men and I would probably label myself a feminist. I agree that women should have every opportunity to be equal with me. However I believe that there are some differences and we should also acknowledge those differences, and preserve them too. I worry that we are heading someway into an Animal Farm society, in a way where women want to be more equal than men. 

As background, my little world, well away from the UN. I am a woman. I went to a local primary school, followed by a girls school for secondary school. I also had the privilege of going to university (for which I paid). I started work as soon as I was legally allowed 14 and 9 months, and worked part time through year 10, 11 & 12. I had a number of concurrent jobs during uni and started working full time at 20. I am married and have three boys. I have not worked full time (by choice) since my first son was born and I currently choose not to work. 

I am lucky to have choices and I am happy with the choices I have made. I have no desire to be the Prime Minister. I have enough trouble running the house, let alone a country. But this is my choice and I am not putting down anyone else's choice. 

Alexander is at the Cuboree camp this week. There are over 4000 people there and I am watching their Facebook pages for updates. They are also on the news. My issue is that all the kids reporting and their photos are girls. His basketball team this year was also mixed. I'm not saying that it was bad, in fact the mixed basketball was really nice, a cohesive and balanced team but for Alexander and the girls, it was not their only team. 

Here's the thing, in a nutshell. There doesn't seem to be anything that is for boys only. I know that sounds exclusive but sometimes to have single sex is a good thing. In basketball for example there are girls teams, which the boys aren't allowed to join, and then there are the boys teams, which the girls are allowed to join. Again in Cubs, girls are allowed, and encouraged to join, but the boys are not offered the same in Girl Guides and Brownies. Football too, girls are allowed in the boys teams, but boys not on the girls teams. I cannot see the equity here. For all of the girls who don't fit the classic stereotype and feel a need to be doing what the boys are doing, are there not an equal number of boys who deserve the same opportunity?

I am sure that much of my confusion about this comes from my experience at a girls school. I had a great experience - loved it. As a child, I was a tomboy. I was always outside with dad - building, playing, climbing etc while my brother was inside being creative. Possibly at an early age both of us were outside these classic gender stereotypes and as adults this has certainly changed. I was physically bigger than the girls and most boys at a young age, and that changes how people, adults, treat you as a kid. Expectations of you being old, physically treated differently because you are bigger. All of those things go in to forming your personality. Then I went from an outer suburban primary school, to a prestigious private girls school and had to learn their ways. Yet, what I found at the girls school was all the competition was removed. 

With no boys to impress, or compete against, there was a sense of freedom. We were free to be. It was very firmly impressed upon us that there was absolutely nothing we couldn't do. This was an academic school and there was a certain expectation to achieve - to be a Doctor or a Lawyer. There was never any discussion that your gender could possibly get in the way. This message, whether it was explicit or implicit really sunk in for me. I have never looked at anything as out of reach because I am a woman, but on the flip side, I have have never expected things because of it either. 

I know that women here have freedoms not available to women throughout the world. We are not enslaved, persecuted or humiliated because of our gender. What I don't understand is why, with all the freedoms that we do have, are our boys not allowed to have anything that is just for boys?

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