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Getting a tiny bit feminist on the teacher's ass!

(365 Posts)
SolidGoldBrass Wed 20-Feb-13 00:47:29

I didn't raise my voice. I didn't unshave my legs or anything.
It just so happened that DS and I bumped into his class teacher at the playground this afternoon and we had a pleasant chat; the teacher turns out to have DC of her own, of a similar age to DS. She mentioned something about girls being very different to boys. I very very gently said that this was in fact rubbish and suggested she read Delusions of Gender, and added that I thought every teacher should read it as a lot of the stuff about gender difference you hear these days was not only wrong but dangerous...

I'm going to be 'one of THOSE mothers' forever, aren't I?

abbierhodes Wed 20-Feb-13 01:07:31

I think this woman being a teacher is a bit of a red herring. It's not like she's making the boys do woodwork an the girls do knitting.

If she notices differences between her students, and this helps her to communicate effectively with them then this is good. Conversely, if she sees differences where there are none, and treats one gender worse than the other, this is bad.

There's nothing so far to suggest that this view has in anyway affected her teaching.

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:07:33

cloud of course the teacher should treat them as individuals. So what point is there in stereotyping at all?

So they notice that more girls do X than boys. Now what? Split the class into boys and girls activities?

That doesn't help what is the point even noticing these things if you are then going to treat with each individual separately?

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:10:55

Changing your communication style to match with the stereotyping only serves to reinforce it.

Like dressing science up in pink and glitter and high heels which has been shown to discourage women rather than encourage....because it rams the self-same stereotyping down their throats that was stopping them from taking science in the first place.

No teachers need to put the counterbalance to bulshit societal pressures, not ust passively ignore them.

MechanicalTheatre Wed 20-Feb-13 01:12:05

High five to you OP.

squeaky I am in a class for 25+ hours a week with 30 small children. Do you really expect me to just deliver the curriculum (whatever the hell it may be these days)? Like it or not, teachers are human, children are human and there will be social interaction going on all the time.

From the books I choose to the children I pick to give answers to the colour of sticker I had out, social norms will be reinforced all the time.

Booyhoo Wed 20-Feb-13 01:13:27

oh SGB! i did laugh when i saw that it was you that had titled this thread.

i honestly didn't know you had a 'tiny bit feminist' setting! grin

MrsTerryPratchett Wed 20-Feb-13 01:14:57

If you are a woman, have a look at your hand. Is your ring finger longer than your index finger? If it is you probably have a larger amount of testosterone than average. You may be an average better at sports, like sex, be more aggressive.

Is that helpful to know? Probably not.
Neither is saying gender is wildly important. No pink aisles for the short fingered are there?

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:15:30

mechanical how do I get my DD in YOUR class? (we have a while to figure this out...she isn't two year).

CloudsAndTrees Wed 20-Feb-13 01:15:47

There isn't a point in noticing, but noticing happens without even thinking about it.

It's no different to noticing that someone is wearing a jumper you own, or that someone has their arm in plaster.

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:20:35

If I lose it one day and rearrange all the under threes clothes in sburys by colour instead of gender...will they lock me up?

Am so sick of having to get DD clothes that say BOYS in big letters all over the sick of asking how exactly a T-shirt is not suitable for a girl to wear...or for that matter why a frock is any less suitable for a boy to wear than a girl (NB IMHO frocks are not suitable wear for anyone under any circumstances).

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:21:38

clouds but it wasn't ust noticed, it was commented on. To a parent. If that isn't going out of your way to reinforce a stereotype then what is?

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:21:59

Not appropriate at all.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 20-Feb-13 01:30:23

She mentioned it. I have no idea in what context so I don't know if it was appropriate or not, but it seems a big leap to me to say that someone who has made an idle comment in the name of pleasant chit chat has gone out of their way to reinforce a stereotype.

That seems like a massive leap for you to make to me.

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:31:23

I mean you could look at children aged 5 and come to the conclusion that girls intrinsically prefer to wear dresses more than boys. But the reality is that none of the boys will even have tried it, where as the girls will have been in and out of dresses for 5 years already.

So do people really think that somewhere on the X chromosome there is a bit that encodes for liking dresses?

Or do we think that the fact only girls are exposed to dresses may slightly be skewing the outcome?

Why in seven hells would you think it is different for anything else that we perceive as different?

Boys like blue and girls like pink? Well if you switch the colours from birth you would get the opposite affect (we know this from recent history).

Girls like flowers, boys like tractors? See above regarding the fact that boys get given tractors on clothes, books, toys and girls get given flowers on clothes, books, toys...

Girls are studious and boys like to blow off energy? Well if you reward those stereotypical behaviours differently for boys and girls then of course you generate the difference.

In my place of work it is blindingly obvious that being arrogant is seen as an advantage for men and a disadvantage for women. The same old stereotypes being played out in the adult world that manipulate our children.

SmeeHee Wed 20-Feb-13 01:31:58

I agree that our society has different ideas and expectations of boys and girls.

I also agree that the way we respond to girls and boys is different from a very young age and obviously does influence the way they develop, which has a profound effect on the people they become.

However there are significant differences in the physiology of males and females (brain structure and function; hormone production and effects within the body) and there is plenty of research which shows that there are differences between boys and girls and there is some truth in many of the gender stereotypes, irrespective of societal pressures.

I haven't read Delusions of Gender but
I now intend to! I do try not to treat the pupils I teach differently based on their gender or have different expectations of them, however I am confronted with the differences between the sexes every day!

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:35:36

smeehee it isn't surprising that teachers find differences....their parents have had 5 years to ensure their kids are mini replicas of their own stereotypes....

It is so very damaging.

ICBINEG Wed 20-Feb-13 01:36:46

Do schools enforce different clothing for boys and girls? I mean I have seen dresses on the shelves but are all options open to both sexes?

lisianthus Wed 20-Feb-13 01:42:38

[High fives SGB] that is a really good book, too. It is fascinating and a little terrifying in that it shows the research on how people putting girls into little boxes "because girls are different to boys, innit" limits girls' expectations and achievements in a surprisingly immediate way.

ICBINEG great posts.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 20-Feb-13 01:45:47

In my school all uniform is available to both girls and boys, but while lots of girls wear trousers, I don't think I've ever seen a boy wear a cardigan.

SmeeHee Wed 20-Feb-13 01:49:09

It is damaging, but I believe the evidence that shows there are differences between boys and girls, based on their physiology and irrespective of how we treat them, and think it doesn't help the argument to completely disregard this.

I also want the gender stereotyping pressures of society to stop so that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential/make their own choices.

I should probably focus more on getting some sleep before I have to teach tomorrow. grin

KC225 Wed 20-Feb-13 01:56:59

I have twins - one boy, one girl. From day one everything was the same. They slept in the same cot, bathed together, ate the same food. When it came to toys, there were two prams, two trucks, two dolls, two trains etc. The wore similar (unisex) clothes as I hate the pale blue/pink stereotype. But as they have got older, I would say from the age of three, they are very different - not just personality wise which is to be expected. There are marked differences between girls and boys that I do not believe we have enforced. My husband and I talk about it all the time.

Not read the book as I feel I have lived with the real thing. I don't think what the teacher said was a negative thing, it was an observation at most surely.

ripsishere Wed 20-Feb-13 02:11:52

Fair point, in retrospect in virtually all the countries, boys were exposed to more manly stuff. My DD is like a boy with a fanny though. She isn't interested in what a lot of her friends are. She loathes pink and would sooner stick pins in her eyes than wear a dress.
I still stand by my argument though that boys are different to girls.

ripsishere Wed 20-Feb-13 02:12:48

When I say manly, I am talking about fishing, hunting with those big brown bird things.

MidnightMasquerader Wed 20-Feb-13 02:28:04

I love how defensive people get over this.

I have a DS and a DD. Still very young - 4 and 2 respectively. I have also spent quite a lot of time in a parent-led pre-school environment (Play Centre in NZ). Children are undoubtedly socialised differently.

We absolutely ostensibly treat our two children exactly the same, but even I - a lifetime, self-identified feminist - can see teeny, tiny minute ways that they're treated differently, even by us, their parents. Even seemingly inconsequential things which an un-questioning, un-analytical mind might not notice, all add up over a lifetime.

Of course children and socialised by gender - to deny this is to be wilfully obtuse.


AuntLucyInPeru Wed 20-Feb-13 02:50:18

YANBU. I have copies of Delusions to my mum and MIL (am on really good terms with both of them) and asked them to PLEASE read it. Both refused hmm. People don't like to have their social stereotypes challenged by reading some actual scientific research on the subject. Oh no. Anecdote is a much safer basis for decision making...

Nandocushion Wed 20-Feb-13 04:44:13

Males and females are very different, it's true. My daughter hates dolls, princesses, fairies and dressing up; my son loves pink, handbags, sparkles and hugging. Too bad teachers don't recognise these differences and celebrate them; instead they tell my son that pink is a "girl's colour", and convince my daughter that she should like cooking instead of science.

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