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to say something to the teacher or is it not worth following up?

(129 Posts)
saffronwblue Fri 16-Nov-12 03:30:38

DD, 10 goes to an all girls school. Lots of good talk in all the school literature about how girls and women can do anything etc.
DD came home from school yesterday describing the sports lesson in which the (male) teacher made a big point of telling them not to "throw the ball like girls". With lots of demonstrations and laughter about weak girl throwing.
As a feminist I am not thrilled about this linking of weak and laughable with being a girl. Should I have a quick word with him or am I being boring and humourless? I never know when to speak up!

exoticfruits Fri 16-Nov-12 09:17:50

OP should actually be grateful that he is expecting them to throw properly and not taking excuses!

BelleDameSousMistletoe Fri 16-Nov-12 09:37:11

But we all know that he was using "like a girl" to mean "not done in a very efficient/effective way" so, in this case, it was clearly derogatory.

As for "cutting it short" how about: "Don't throw like this" <demonstration>. "Throw like this" <demonstration>

Doesn't seem terribly taxing to me. But then, I'm just an "outraged frother" who cares about the inisidious messages played out to girls from an early age which leads to people wondering why this is even an issue.

seeker Fri 16-Nov-12 09:51:55

I'm a professionally offended frother too.

But I have been worn down on this particular issue by the way many girls reaction to doing anything physical. It's not just about showing them how to do it properly. It's about telling them that doing it properly is a good thing, in the face of so much propaganda about how truly feminine women are weak and pathetic, and how being giggly and cutesy is the way to be, and incompetence is appealing. And how breaking into a sweat is "gross". grrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

StuntGirl Fri 16-Nov-12 10:13:30

I would mention it, yes. I wouldn't go in all guns blazing, but I would bring it to the school's attention because I think language and how we choose to express ourselves is important.

BelleDameSousMistletoe Fri 16-Nov-12 10:15:18

Understood. Still pisses me off though. It's the unthinking-ness of the message that annoys me. It's a vicious circle. If you do it "like a girl" (grrrr) then in nearly every other part of life they're actually praised or rewarded for "being a good girl" so why wouldn't they carry this into sport?

Anyway, suspect I'll argue myself into a circle with this so am going to stop ranting.

squeakytoy Fri 16-Nov-12 10:18:03

I completely agree with Seeker.

Bellebois Fri 16-Nov-12 11:05:51

Reiterate the fact that the teacher was out of line, with your daughter. I agree, he is BU here, but don't complain to him, I also think - pick your battles. On the big scale, this is fairly minor.
When I was working in a prep school, I also got frustrated at the sidelining of girls games... The message was consistently given that the boys were more important ( better kit, better coaches, better turfs/pitches) so frustrating.
I would also show your daughter some examples of strong, world-champion athletes... 2 that spring to my mind are Beatrice Faumuina and Valerie Adams... Both excellent examples in throwing sports, and great role models for girls, too.
I am biased for these two, I am sure there are also many from the UK side too!

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 16-Nov-12 11:12:21

I would mention it, given they make a big issue in their literature about this sort of thing.

It makes me fed up - I had a PE teacher (female) who started us off by doing a stupid parody of a run, kicking up her feet to the sides, and said it was a 'girly' way of running and we weren't to do it. Having never been remotely self-conscious of the way I ran before I felt awful.

I thought teaching PE by telling girls it's all about not being 'girly' had gone out in the stone ages (or, um, some time after I left school), so this is ridiculous.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 16-Nov-12 11:14:35

Btw, I don't get the 'no excuse' argument.

Did the OP say her DD was making excuses, or are you just assuming she must have done?

It's not a feministy thing at all, but I think teachers justifiyng being rude or mean by saying they're pre-empting the 'usual excuses' should not be doing the job. It doesn't get good results and it is one of the things people always remember as 'unfair' later on.

kickassangel Sat 17-Nov-12 01:20:11

1. Yes, it's a 'micro behaviour' but it doesn't mean you should just ignore it - perhaps give a micro-response.
2. Saying anything that includes 'like a girl' or 'like a yank' or any other general sweeping statement has stereotypes & bias behind it.
3. If it was just a throw away comment by someone chatting, I probably wouldn't say anything.
4. But a teacher (ie a position of authority) basing a lesson on this, reinforces a sexist stereotype.
5. Trying to tell girls not to throw like a girl can cause some real conflict - they are female, why should they try no to be?

Girls aren't as strong as boys? the best 13 year old pitcher in the USA is (wait for it) a GIRL. She is female, btw, in case you're confused.
There are other (only a few, but more coming up through the ranks) professional female pitchers in major leagues. Playing with men and able to beat them.

So girls/women ARE able to throw as well as their male counterparts. Which rather implies that it is society, not physical strengths, which stop them developing that strength. Teachers of sport should be battling to overcome the stereotypes, not repeating them and basing a lesson on them.

watch/read this

And I'm not angry/frothing btw, but just pointing out some mistakes/gaps in peoples knowledge and understanding, just as I would if someone asked a question about essay writing etc.

Startail Sat 17-Nov-12 01:27:21

Pick your battles.
This one isn't worth it.

Spons Sat 17-Nov-12 01:38:46

Hold on, we complain because we don't want to be thought of as weak / inferior to men,and when a man agrees with this, and wants girls to throw in a positive way we're moaning? So we DO want to be considered delicate / weak / feable / crap at physical sport?

YABU. Try and teach a group ofgirls that loathe sport because they've been taught to believe it manly / in attractive to try and you'd soon encourage your teachers attitude.

kickassangel Sat 17-Nov-12 03:23:48

No one is saying that girls shouldn't learn to throw properly, but telling them that girls throw badly, then that they shouldn't be like girls is confusing. Why not just teach them how to throw without the stereotyping?

BelleDameSousMistletoe Sat 17-Nov-12 07:47:25

Quite. Kickassangel has expressed it perfectly.

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 07:58:43

No one will ever allow that there are any differences. If I had £100 I could fairly safely go to any class and bet it that the best thrower was a boy- if I was betting that out of the best half dozen, the majority were boys, I would be very safe. It is just a fact.
Out of those who are poor at throwing the style of the girls and boys will be very different.
Maybe he didn't phrase it well, and maybe he shouldn't have said it, but they all knew what he meant- and every class will have examples.
I have taught hundreds of children in games lessons over the years. If you were to bet £100 against me you would be likely to lose.

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 07:59:31

Of course many, many girls are good at throwing!

seeker Sat 17-Nov-12 07:59:32

I keep coming back to this one!

It's just that by the age of 10, many girls are throwing, kicking and running in a very distinctive, incompetent way. It's not lots of different, individual incompetent ways- it's one particular way. And they need to be challenged on it. Well, they need to have been taught by their families or early years teachers not to do it but that's another story. And they do think it's cute and feminine and funny. And teachers do collude with this. So I suppose I'm so delighted to find a PE teacher who doesn't collude, and who won't let them get away with it......oh, I don't know. What could he have said instead? Because in this particular instance, the way mos girls do it is crap! And every single person present would have known exactly what he meant by "throwing like a girl"!

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 08:00:16

It is just that some will throw exactly as he demonstrated.

flow4 Sat 17-Nov-12 08:29:37

I wish he'd said "Don't throw like penguins!" or "Don't throw like babies!" I think that would have done it.

There is a risk (quite a big one, I think) that when he said "Don't throw like a girl", many of the girls (who are still developing their gender identities as girls) will hear "Ah, if I want to behave as a 'real' girl should behave, I must remember to throw in that silly, rubbish way". sad

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 08:35:05

Penguins and babies don't throw! The girls all know exactly what he meant.
If you play rounders with a class of 30, you will have at least 2 girls who throw in exactly the way he was demonstrating. It doesn't mean that all girls throw like that. Some people insist on thinking that our DC are stupid and have to have every t crossed and every i dotted. He got the message across in an amusing way-life is very serious when you have to be PC at every point. At which point did he say it was a 'real' girl? confused

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 08:36:06

I would be completely mystified if someone told me not to throw like a penguin!

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 08:37:02

Sorry-babies do throw-but not in a way that you could use in a PE lesson as an example.

flow4 Sat 17-Nov-12 08:47:47

But I think that was exactly his point, don't you exotic? I think "Don't throw like a girl" is short-hand for "That is such a rubbish way to throw that it is hardly a throw at all - don't do it".

The problem with the gender bit of the criticism is that although it may be factually accurate that lots of girls throw like this it actually make the clear statement that "this is how girls throw" - it reinforces the stereotype... And since most teenagers like to 'fit in', they may well use it as a direct lesson in how they should throw if they want to be a 'proper girly girl' (which many of them do).

I'm not going to defend my penguin example - swap 'penguin' for anything else you like that obviously can't throw well (giraffe? jellyfish? zombie?!) grin But I do reckon that if you were told "Don't throw like a penguin!" you'd understand perfectly well that your throwing was rubbish, which is after all what the PE teacher really needs to say!

Everlong Sat 17-Nov-12 08:51:27

Dear lord.

I've heard it all now.

OP don't go in saying that they will think you're fucking barking.

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 09:02:35

Exactly Everlong!

The message they will get flow4 is that the throw looks very silly!

I can show any class in the country with girls who throw in a pathetic way-why ever are you not allowed to point it out and get them to change?!
I bet he was a teacher who made the lesson fun-we need more of them-not those who have to watch every word or offer gobbledygook on 'don't throw like a penguin, jellyfish, hippo etc' because the literal minded will point out they didn't know a tiger could throw and the point is wasted!

The teacher in question would be amazed that we could debate a throw away line so seriously for so long!

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