What really gets my goat...

(36 Posts)
reallyyummymummy Sat 27-Apr-13 10:39:32

Starting thread here because I don't really know how else this gets classified. But there has been an issue that has been bothering me for ages.

I have two boys (3 and 2) and I take them to kiddie football classes, not only because they enjoy it but because it sports like this are really good for developing visual spacial skills and builds confidence. In short - it makes you brighter (or so I have read). The thing I have noticed, even at this tender age, is how few girls attend the class and the ones that do get put off because already the class is so dominated by boys. When girls do attend I see that they are just as capable and at this age are actually better because they listen and focus.

I find it really hard watching intelligent women dressing their young girls in tutus and taking them to ballet lessons whilst saying girls are just as good at boys when in actual fact they are not giving their child a chance to develop skills other than competitive prettiness and have their confidence knocked by the fact that actually chances are they won't have particularly good coordination.

It is a bit of a rant I know but DH and I were discussing the issue of girls and sport last night and we both made different points. His being that girls tend not to be as strong on ball sports and boys and me making the point that girls seem to start life at a disadvantage because they don't get to play ball sports at a young age.

Are my observations completely unfounded? Or is there truth to it from a feminist perspective? Interested in you thoughts.

Snorbs Sat 27-Apr-13 10:49:30

I think there's a lot in what you say. Sport (as with so many things) becomes gendered so early. For children I haven't seen any substantial difference between boys and girls at any sport. And even if there were I don't think it should make a difference to their participation.

TheCrackFox Sat 27-Apr-13 10:54:04

Maybe your boys would enjoy ballet lessons?

DoTheStrand Sat 27-Apr-13 11:09:15

My DS1 is 3.10 and does rugby - there is one girl in his class and about 9 or 10 boys. It is almost always the dads taking them too, occasionally mums but often I am the only mum there. (That is probably as it is at weekends and they see it as a dad/son bonding experience). It does seem odd especially at this young age before peer pressure kicks in.

I chose rugby for him as I wanted him to improve his coordination, have something to get us up and out if the house on weekend mornings, and importantly to give him a link/bond with his much older half brothers who both did rugby - they do help him practise when they see him. So a laudable aim though you could argue I am just perpetuating the stereotype that made them do rugby themselves.

DS1's girl friends do ballet if they do any sports classes.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 27-Apr-13 12:24:41

Ballet shouldn't be about competitive prettiness, if it's being done right.

Otherwise, I agree with you that it's a shame gendering sports happens even at this age.

WadsCollop Sat 27-Apr-13 12:28:34

You're doing the same thing though, aren't you?

My DD goes to ballet because she wants to. confused It's excellent for rhythm, coordination, balance, all kind of things. I don't understand why you think football is any better. It's all about choice, no?

reallyyummymummy Sat 27-Apr-13 12:34:30

I would not want boys to do ballet lessons. I have a problem with girls learning ballet. Where I live ballet is an excuse for the mother's to be competitive about how gorgeous their children are and sets a really bad example to girls. I feel it is saying that we live in a lookist world where they will be valued for the way they look and dress.

I am more thinking about why do girls end up doing ballet? Most aren't very good and get put off early on. Why do intelligent mothers aspire to their children learning it when there are other things on offer they could be doing?

reallyyummymummy Sat 27-Apr-13 12:35:43

Maybe I am doing the same thing. But I hope if I had a girl I would encourage her to do proper sport as well.

McBalls Sat 27-Apr-13 12:39:37

You certainly have a point, particularly about activities being dominated by one gender being off putting and so on it goes but I think you're being unfair.

Why is ballet 'competitive prettiness'? Does that not mean football is just competitive laddishness?

Why would ballet knock the confidence in a way that football wouldn't? So not all girls will have a natural aptitude for ballet but the same goes for the children signed up to football classes.

I also find your belief that lack of ball skills = being disadvantaged. Really? Just ball skills? There's no advantage at all in dance?

"When girls do attend I see that they are just as capable and at this age are actually better because they listen and focus." Righto!

McBalls Sat 27-Apr-13 12:40:13

Proper sport. Ah, I think you're just on the wind-up.

tribpot Sat 27-Apr-13 12:43:39

Not sure why you think (presumably your rather than all?) boys shouldn't do ballet. One way of addressing the lookism is to introduce boys to the mix - no-one's gonna judge them based on the quality of their hair accessories, after all.

The ballet class you are describing though does sound awful. I wouldn't want a dd of mine (if I had one) to go to it. As far as I know the one my friends' dds go to isn't like that at all.

I think one of the advantages of football (or netball, hockey or other team sport) is that the team performance is as important as the individual one. Although strictly speaking that should be true in ballet too, of course! There is a mix of different skills and so if your child is not such a fast runner, for example, it doesn't mean they can't be a valuable member of the team.

I think you're right, though, that girls are more disadvantaged in ball sports because of low expectations than low ability. Plus as a team sport you need a critical mass in order for there to be enough other girls to play against given few sports have mixed sex teams past the junior level.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 27-Apr-13 12:44:24

DS (hopeless ball skills) was the subject of appallingly rude comments by football dads aged 6.

DD (baby elephant) had no such issues at dancing classes.

Sport is gendered. And so are other activities. You don't want your boys doing ballet?

5madthings Sat 27-Apr-13 12:44:44

Surely you are just as bed for not letting g your boys do ballet. Its not about competitive pretty ness...

I encourage my children in a variety of activities. I think its a shame that 'all boys' are supposed to like football and if they don't they can get a hard time at school.

wol1968 Sat 27-Apr-13 12:48:49

Ballet is not 'competitive prettiness'. 'Competitive prettiness' is beauty pageants, child modelling and suchlike (and I wouldn't let my DD anywhere near them, not that she ever wanted to do them). Ballet, however, is a very, very tough and exacting physical discipline, very good for developing strength, flexibility, co-ordination and poise. You might be interested to know that professional football and rugby players have been using ballet-based exercises for years to maintain their strength and fitness - way back in the last century, some ballet dancers visited a well-known professional football team and managed to floor the lot of them with their exercise routines. grin

Now, the competitiveness over the dress etc. is a whole different debate and may contribute to female-majority pursuits not being taken seriously...

Portofino Sat 27-Apr-13 12:48:52

I agree McBalls. But it is an interesting topic. I have encouraged dd to try out sports that she is more likely to continue with as an adult. I don't know any grown up ballerinas, but swimming, cycling, tennis, badminton are more common forms of adult exercise. She also does a jazz class at school. I have no time for the tutu stuff.

DoTheStrand Sat 27-Apr-13 13:30:18

I have just asked DS1 and he says he does want to do ballet. He loves all things pink and sparkly though so he will probably only add to the atmosphere of competitive prettiness. (If there is one - when I did ballet it was all about running around pretending to be a bee or a butterfly).

I expect some parents choose it because it is warm and indoors. Which makes a difference on a freezing December Saturday morning...

WadsCollop Sat 27-Apr-13 13:46:30

So, you think that ballet isn't a 'proper sport' based on a class that neither you, your kids nor anyone you know very well attends? hmm

I'd love to know where you got "Most aren't very good and get put off early on." from.

Ballet isn't about the dressing up. Sure, there is often a leotard to wear, but there is also a football strip, surely? I can't think of another activity that is so good for concentration, discipline, balance, coordination, rhythm, music appreciation and posture.

Were you just shit at ballet?

HullMum Sat 27-Apr-13 15:26:17

I wouldn't let my daughter or sons do a sport where bulimia is an occasional side effect. Team sports are actually supposed to improve girl's self esteem, decrease their chance of developing an eating disorder... I'm with you op. DD will be starting football as soon as she turns 3 and that's definitely not so dh will have someone to chat with about it besides me

HullMum Sat 27-Apr-13 15:41:19

''The problem is much more common in middle- and upper-class women, particularly white women and young women under 25,'' Dr. Warren said. ''Dance is one of the worst areas. The average incidence of eating disorders in the white middle-class population is 1 in 100. In classical ballet, it is one in five.''

www.nytimes.com/1997/07/16/arts/eating-disorders-haunt-ballerinas.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

I mean, seriously, fuck that. We have enough to worry about with girls and self esteem why go courting trouble?

Xenia Sat 27-Apr-13 16:37:59

One reason I like single sex selective education from age 4 or 5 is that girls can do all kinds of sports and boys can do things like single treble in boys' church choirs to age 13 which is much harder to get them to do if girls are around.

[I bought presents for a boy and girl this week and spent some time avoiding a blue for girl and pink for boy. One item arrived today and my son said noticed a blue and pink ribbon had been put on the packaging - the reason I'd bought the yellow ones was lack of gendered colours. So I sat there with scissors and removed the pink and blue bows.]

rosabud Sun 28-Apr-13 00:13:25

Ballet is not a sport - it is a performance art. So the "competitive prettiness" or "tutu (costume) wearing" is part of the expression of that art. By complaining that the "pretty" part of ballet detracts from the sport of it, is a bit like complaining that the costumes/lighting in a theatre play detract from the language in the script. You are comparing 2 things that are not the same.

So the question should be, why are girls considered better at something which involves more than one discipline whereas poor boys are relegated to just running around kicking balls.

Gingerodgers Sun 28-Apr-13 00:20:48

Ok, my dd9 does soccer, and I have just started adult ballet for beginners, and I love it. It's like Pilates with pretty music! Dd is not remotely interested in ballet, and I confess to being a teeny bit disappointed!....

NiceTabard Sun 28-Apr-13 12:35:44

Agree with the points on here about ballet being hard work and teaching some important things but equally there is an aspect of mums dressing their girls up which is quite bleurgh.

the thing I find annoying is at schools the dominance of football - at DDs school that is the only sport club. It's a shame they don't have a "general" sports thing especially at this age (young primary) so that they can try lots of different things out. With football it's a. primarily boys for the reasons discussed already and b. so narrow. Someone who is bad at football might be great at long jump or something but they're not going to find out are they, they'll just think "I'm shit at sport"

Sausageeggbacon Sun 28-Apr-13 12:49:09

All 3 of mine have done some form of Martial Arts. DD started with Karate and moved on to Kempo Jujitsu. Both DS started with Karate and DS1 has moved on to Wing Chun while DS2 has switched to Judo.

DS1 is the sporty one he plays football and Cricket as well and there are no girls competing at his age group (15 y/o). I am amazed at how few girls study any form of martial art even though it would give all the benefits of many sports and build an extra level of self confidence.

FreedomOfTheTess Sun 28-Apr-13 13:14:32

You have a problem with girls learning ballet?!

What if they WANT to learn ballet? What if it interests them?

A dear friend is a professional ballet dancer, the work she puts in is incredible, and she is so incredibly talented (more so then those grown men who kick a ball about on a piece of grass for 90 minutes).

FreedomOfTheTess Sun 28-Apr-13 13:14:52

* and get paid millions of pounds a year for doing so!

Greythorne Sun 28-Apr-13 13:17:06

If you think ballet is about competitive prettiness and is not a proper sport, you are seriously missing something.

You just happen to like soccer. Good for you.

Some people happen to like ballet.

Deal with it.

Phineyj Sun 28-Apr-13 13:24:29

Ballet is hard work!

Also, where do you think male ballet dancers come from? hmm

When I see a male British ballet dancer (there are some good ones) I think 'there is one determined guy', given attitudes like this...

Which is not to say girls shouldn't be encouraged to play football if they want to. However, there do seem to be more opportunities for girls to play than when I was a child.

simplesusan Sun 28-Apr-13 13:33:00

My dcs do a range of sports and are all very fit and active.

My dd1 is considered by her pe teacher to be her top student. Interestingly she has done ballet for 13 years. Ballet is very hard and ballerinas are incredibly disciplined in all walks of life.
Of all the activities dd1 does, ballet she says is the hardest. No room for error at al,l a move is either right or wrong, you cannot just get by.
Oh and she does play football for the school team when she gets a free moment.

Yes there is tremendous pressure for ballerinas to be thin, but there is pressure on all women to look a certain way. I am not condoning this at all and dd1 is under no illusion that she is not the correct "body type" to be a professional ballerina.

reallyyummymummy Sun 28-Apr-13 18:52:33

I am being harsh because I can only report on my observations and experience. I have seen so many parents taking their children to ballet classes in the most amazing outfits and hair done beautifully.

I know that ballet is a proper sport and all the things it is good for but I feel that so many parents push their children to do it not out of the interest of being fit but because they want to show off their little girls in their tutus.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 29-Apr-13 20:18:52

Um, is there not a uniform outfit and hairstyle? I had to have hair in a bun and wear the school leotard and leggings for dance class. Didn't mean it wasn't exercise.

kickassangel Tue 30-Apr-13 02:30:21

You should read The Frailty Myth. Girls can be just as good at sport as boys, if given equal access.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Tue 30-Apr-13 08:18:43

And plenty of people push their DSs into football, et al.

I don't understand why girls are 'pushed into ballet' and are inevitably crap at it and so get their confidence knocked, but boys embrace football and are inevitably good it at.

My brother hated football (or soccer as we call it) as a child; absolutely loathed it and ditched it (and any and all team sports) as soon as he possibly could.

And quite honestly - I'd far, far rather send my DC for ballet lessons than football. Football culture is vile, IMO. Uttery vile and misogynistic. Anything is better than football.

HullMum Tue 30-Apr-13 17:10:15

men's football is vile. women's isn't. And would you really prefer the culture of thin to the point of illness to football?

lisianthus Wed 01-May-13 04:09:13

I can see where you are coming from. My DD does both ballet and soccer (football). She loves both, but there are a lot more boys than girls in her football class and no boys at all in her ballet class (which I think is a pity).

I was a bit nervous about letting her start ballet as it can become a bit of a "competitive prettiness" thing (great phrase, btw), and did a couple of "try it out" classes in different places. There was a huge difference- like many things, the teacher makes a big difference. At the first place I went to, the CP aspect seemed very much in play, with lots of sparkly tutus and children's hair being put up with gel and hairspray (at pre-school age!), and the teacher banging on about children's looks a lot. The place we decided on has far more emphasis on ballet as imaginative play, using it to tell stories in dance, with all the ballet advantages of fostering good balance, good posture, etc.

WhoWhatWhereWhen Wed 01-May-13 04:54:18

The main advantage of sports such as Rugby and Football is they are mass participation, It really doesn't matter how good you are, you're likely to be able to find a team to play in throughout nearly your entire life (recently noticed a walking football team has been set up at my local Gym)

Ballet doesn't fulfil the same criteria, if you're not good enough to be professional then participation ends around the early teens ( there are very few Adult Ballet classes )

I do believe ballet classes for children offer the same advantages in developing coordination, building strength etc.

Better options for most children would be Netball, Basketball, Football, Rugby, Cricket, Hockey

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