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to think providing typical "boys" (for quick way to group them) is not sexist...

(19 Posts)
Holidaysarecoming Fri 14-Oct-11 18:54:46

allowing girls not to do them is sexist?

I went to view a school for my dc (one of each gender) and was asking the HT about activities as a lot of mention had been made about dance, art (specifically painting and textiles) and drama. I asked the question in this wording (I admit may not be the best wording in the world):

'Do you do activities that are typically seen as boys' activities such as electronics, woodwork, rugby?'

The HT said 'that is very sexist', and I said 'no just what you have said about the school is very feminine, it would only be sexist if the girls couldn't do the activities'.

Do you see that as sexist?

Holidaysarecoming Fri 14-Oct-11 18:55:21

Damn - should have proof read missing the word activities in the title.

MillyR Fri 14-Oct-11 18:59:09

No, I don't think it is sexist in the context that you said it to the head. They are typical boys' activities. You were not implying that girls should not be able to do them, or that all boys should want to do them.

thisisyesterday Fri 14-Oct-11 18:59:31

yeah, i agree with the head. it is very sexist to describe them as "boys' activities"

why are art, drama and dance NOT boy activities? confused

not sure why you needed to bring gender into it at all really

hocuspontas Fri 14-Oct-11 19:03:44

Not necessarily sexist but it's an attitude that schools try so hard to get away from. If parents still think like that then it's going to be perpetuated by their children, consciously or unconsciously.

duvetdayplease Fri 14-Oct-11 19:03:52

I'm in agreement with thisisyesterday, the term 'typical boys' activities' is a sexist term.

ScaredBear Fri 14-Oct-11 19:07:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Holidaysarecoming Fri 14-Oct-11 19:07:22

Ok because it is important for me that these activities are provided at the school we choose, and we have found that a number of schools are no longer providing them either a) cost or b) H&S.

AIBU to list the activities we require in full:

Does your school offer woodwork, electronics, rugby, cricket...(and read off a list) so that I don't miss out any activity that is important to us?

Hullygully Fri 14-Oct-11 19:09:09

I read it as "providing typical "boys" (for quick way to grope them)

and was alarmed

ScaredBear Fri 14-Oct-11 19:10:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hocuspontas Fri 14-Oct-11 19:10:40

Why not say 'My children are interested in these activities (list...), do you provide any of them in school?'

Trills Fri 14-Oct-11 19:10:59

"activities for boys" sexist

"boys activities" could be seen as sexist depending on whether the person thought you meant the above or the below

"activities that are traditionally thought of as boys activities" descriptive, not sexist

so that I don't miss out any activity that is important to us?

If all of the activities on the list are important then you will have to list them anyway, even if the school says "yes we do offer traditionally male activities" they might not include all of your list.

fruitybread Fri 14-Oct-11 19:13:40

Speaking as a fairly hardcore feminist - I think calling what you said 'very sexist' is an overreaction.

You were careful to say 'activities that are TYPICALLY SEEN AS BOYS' ACTIVITIES' - which isn't the same as saying, 'activities suitable for boys', or 'I don't want my boys doing awful girly stuff', is it? Or that you approve of some activities having a history of gender division.

And there's the nub of it - it doesn't matter how many parents post claiming that they would never dream of being gender divisive in their child's activities - Tarquin LIVES for embroidery, and Fenella goes to Junior Welders every week, etc etc. Some activities, however wrongly, DO have a history of being gender specific.

As a shorthand, we know what you mean. And there's no real umbrella term for woodwork, rugby and electronics - they are pretty different, so you were just looking for a quick way to group them.

'Very sexist' behaviour means something like making offensive and inappropriate comments to a female colleague. Or expecting to display porn in the workplace. Or denying women equal pay, or treating activities such as home making as intrinsically inferior because the majority of home makers happen to be women.

You could have chosen your words a bit better, probably - but your HT is one of those people who can't tell the difference between a papercut and decapitation.

thisisyesterday Fri 14-Oct-11 19:16:08

i would have just asked for a list of the activities they do. i am sure they can provide that.

TenderlyLovinglyByAGoat Fri 14-Oct-11 19:16:11

dramatic and other arts not traditionally male? how far back in time would you have to travel to conclude that?

Holidaysarecoming Fri 14-Oct-11 19:23:23

Not to drip feed, but one of the reasons we are looking for a new school is that my dd's (all girls) school has stopped doing electronics, product design, and football "as they are not appropriate for our girls" and my dd wants to be an engineer, so it's important for her that we have the electronics.

And the school was saying that they do a lot of dance and gymnastics (both of which my 2 do outside of school so not anti it), but no mention of team games was made - which is important to us.

Andrewofgg Fri 14-Oct-11 19:24:45

It's just verbal shorthand like "former men's colleges" at Oxbridge (now all both-sex) or "historically black colleges" in the USA (now some of them mixed-race although not, I believe, all, at least not in practice). HT was wrong.

Holidaysarecoming Fri 14-Oct-11 19:26:35

"difference between a papercut and decapitation." grin

Birdsgottafly Fri 14-Oct-11 20:43:45

It's gender stereotyping, rather than full on sexism. It was the way that it was worded.

I have been having multiple discussions about this lately, as these attitudes often put males at a disadvantage, especially when it comes to having to be responsible for looking after children and running a home (if they want to be a single dad).

It doesn't do either gender any favours.

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