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To be really saddened about gender stereotyping at pre-prep

(29 Posts)
redskyatnight Fri 07-Feb-14 14:01:37

So was chatting to SIL last night � her DC go to a pre-prep (so caters for ages 4-7). She was bemoaning the lack of after school clubs available for boys � that the girls had plenty to choose from but the boys only had really had football and her DS wasn�t interested. I expressed my surprise that the school would split organise school clubs by gender and remarked that my DS had enjoyed art, cookery, dance, French at his school between those ages.

Her response was that they had all those same clubs at her DC�s school and in theory they were open to everyone, but of course none of the boys wanted to go to the �girls� clubs".
I slightly fell over in shock at this point, and mumbled something about being surprised the boys were bothered at that age, but SIL assured me that they definitely were.

AIBU to be very saddened that gender stereotyping has kicked in at such an early age?

CMOTDibbler Fri 07-Feb-14 14:12:26

I'm surprised - my ds is at a preprep/prep, and apart from the specific sports, and ballet (though the reception age boys will go) all the other clubs seem pretty mixed. DS is 7, and doing drama, scrabble, outward bound, and outdoor sports this term, but I know his friends are doing cookery, cupcake club, gymnastics - but theres lots of clubs and the girls do chess etc too

Ifcatshadthumbs Fri 07-Feb-14 14:14:41

There are far too many sports related clubs at ds's school (although they attract a good mix of boys and girls). Ds would love art or cookery or drama

Mim78 Fri 07-Feb-14 14:15:15

Sounds like she has encouraged this silly attitude in her son. What in earth is girly about speaking French or doing art?

SlightlyTerrified Fri 07-Feb-14 14:18:02

At my DSs pre prep they do have cookery, art, chess, ball skills etc and there is a mixture of girls and boys at all those. Rugby and football is boys only and netball/ballet is girls only. There is a girls football club if there is enough interest though.

Some boys are very boyish (one of mine is) and it is nothing to do with stereotyping, it is just his way, my other DS isn't and would happily go to a girls club. Same with girls, my friends DD only wants to do dance or things like that, she refuses to do ball skills or anything she considers 'boys' clubs. My friend is very sporty and has never encouraged this and many of the little girls friends do the other clubs but it is just not for her.

I think your reaction is a bit odd, as long as the DCs are happy there is no reason to feel saddened.

redskyatnight Fri 07-Feb-14 14:31:58

The point is that (based on what SIL said) the parents (or their children) have decided en masse that art, cookery, dance, languages, singing (think there were others but can't remember) are not for boys. So no boys go to them. I accept that every boy (and indeed every girl) is not interested in all of these things, but find it very hard to believe that (left to themselves and not conditioned to believe this way) that NO boys would be interested in ANY of them. And even if a boy was the only boy doing these activities, I'm surprised that at so young an age this would bother them.

Lottiedoubtie Fri 07-Feb-14 14:34:57

This sounds more likely to be in your SILs head than school policy.

TamerB Fri 07-Feb-14 14:39:37

Does she want them to continue if it is like that with pre prep? It will only get worse as they get older, if they start like that.

BirdintheWings Fri 07-Feb-14 14:43:10

I'm puzzled by what she does want.

If football is not for him, what 'boys' clubs' would she like to see instead, given she thinks the non-sporty clubs are 'for girls'?

Fencing? Chess? Peeing contests?

SlightlyTerrified Fri 07-Feb-14 14:44:43

I agree it would be very strange for NO boys to be interested in ANY of them but without any conditioning there is a huge difference in many girls and boys interests and always have been. Before the ridiculous advertising of girls/boys stuff or pink/blue things many girls just preferred dolls/skipping etc and boys liked cowboys and Indians/football and so on.

I can 100% say I have not conditioned my DCs to like boys stuff but their personalities have dictated the things they like IMO. I am pleased they like a variety of things (not just very boyish sports) but I also know neither of them would want to do ballet (even though I would love them too and grew up doing so along with lots of boys who did).

SlightlyTerrified Fri 07-Feb-14 14:45:59

BTW I have come across a very small minority of people who are very odd about the gender thing, for instance at pre-school one mum asked the manager to remove the photos in the learning journey of her DS dressed up in a princess costume as the dad would go mad, he was only 2!

5Foot5 Fri 07-Feb-14 16:40:13

If I was your SIL I would be having second thoughts about whether I wanted my DC to continue at a school where such weirdly out-dated ideas were tolerated.

I only have a DD myself, but my two DNephs would have loved nearly all of those classes she is describing as "girls". Indeed one of them recently took Art A level and the other is doing Performing Arts at Uni so he has always done loads of dancing and singing.

Theas18 Fri 07-Feb-14 16:49:13

This is a surprising advantage to single sex prep strangely....dh school has many choirs and the dance club is amazing (they perform at the concerts regularly). Art and French clubs flourish too

SelfRighteousPrissyPants Fri 07-Feb-14 16:51:52

How odd! We live in a traditional ex-mining town in the NE and there are boys at sewing club and girls at karate. My son does both and so do a couple of other boys.

BarbarianMum Fri 07-Feb-14 16:57:06

<<there is a huge difference in many girls and boys interests and always have been>>

I disagree. I think there is a huge overlap b/w the interests of girls and boys and virtually impossible to seperate activities by gender without running straight into lots of exceptions.

It's interesting that you ascribe your children's interests to their gender rather than their personality. But also quite sad.

Dancergirl Fri 07-Feb-14 16:57:23

Definite gender divide here!

Football club at our primary school which is open to all. There are NO girls who attend.

YABU to be upset about it. However gender neutral you try to be about it, you'll get more than 50% boys at football clubs and more than 50% girls at sewing clubs.

bochead Fri 07-Feb-14 18:46:23

Gender divide on some things yes, but cooking?

I've NEVER met a little boy who didn't want to learn how to cook! Most celebrity chefs are male too, so they have plenty of role models here in the UK. imho this love of cooking is directly related to the "hollow legs" syndrome most little boys suffer from wink.

Dance - what sort of dance? Street dance or freestyle is perceived very differently to belly dancing by most kids in terms of gender roles. You may be right here.

Art - that's baloney as when I used to do kids art workshops/parties for a living, parents of boys were repeat customers just as often as girls.

7 is too young to have hit the "girls have cooties" stage.

They'll want the cash off boys parents just the same as the girls for clubs, as it's bad business to only cater for half your market. I think your SIL has ishoos tbh.

2014ThisIsMyYear Fri 07-Feb-14 19:56:55

DS enjoyed a school cookery club - he was 11-12 at the time, and it was split 50/50, IIRC.

Neighbour's DD was a key player in the primary school football team.

Sad if this gender nonsense is starting so young.

WilsonFrickett Fri 07-Feb-14 20:24:13

I don't think you are being U op. that would make me sad too. DS does nature club, karate and cubs and their is a real gender mix at all of them. He isn't fond of football but a lot of girls go to the school football clubs and there's a cross-gender waiting list for the skipping club. It's not just 'natural inclination' to have complete segregation of activities at that age.

manicinsomniac Fri 07-Feb-14 22:57:04

It is sad but it isn't the school's fault.

I would love more boys in my drama and gymnastics club and I'd love any boys at all in my dance teams!

I know the guy who takes the chess and table tennis clubs would love more girls to take part.

There are similar problems with archery, sailing, warhammer and some of the choirs and art groups.

Instrumental music seems nicely balanced as does cookery and sport (although most of the sports clubs are single sex even when both genders play them (ie girls cricket club, boys hockey club etc)

I sometimes wonder if we have too many clubs, forcing children to stereotype and generalise about which ones they are 'supposed' to enjoy.

Sharaluck Fri 07-Feb-14 23:06:54

I don't believe sil. I am sure she is over exaggerating.

Maybe slightly more girls choose art/cooking/dance but I am sure there would be some boys and some parents encouraging their sons to do them as well.

SlightlyTerrified Sat 08-Feb-14 08:35:30

<<I disagree. I think there is a huge overlap b/w the interests of girls and boys and virtually impossible to seperate activities by gender without running straight into lots of exceptions.>>

I haven't actually said there are no overlaps, my DSs do lots of mixed clubs, maybe some with mainly girls and others mainly boys but they still go. DS2 attends a rugby club and there are a couple of hundred boys across the age groups but only 1 girl (who is 5 YO). Its just one of those things.

<<It's interesting that you ascribe your children's interests to their gender rather than their personality. But also quite sad.>>

Actually - if you read my post properly I said it is down to their personality! Their personalities have dictated what they like - one DS likes very boyish things but the other not so much.

No need to feel sad thanks, my boys are lovely, well adjusted, sensitive kids who play well with both girls and boys and have a variety of interests. I used to play for a professional girls football team so I can assure you I am the last person to attempt to condition my children.

SlightlyTerrified Sat 08-Feb-14 08:49:35

In the infant school there was a real mix at the football club but at juniors no girls at all. I don't find it sad as I think the school are very inclusive IMO and it is the girls choice, the girls football club has not run due to NO applications this year.

There were only 2 girls in my whole school who played football and both of us for a proper team outside of school. At that time schools did not allow girls to play but it did not stop us playing if we wanted to outside of school. No different to any other activity not available at school such as sailing or cadets.

I really don't believe there is a problem in general but some people seem to be very hung up on it on MN. In RL I have never really come across people who find it a huge issue.

Lovecat Sat 08-Feb-14 09:03:54

DD's prep has a wide variety of clubs and the gender divide is fairly marked, although well-mixed for Art and Chess. To a large extent the children seem to self police, which i find quite disturbing - there was only one little boy in the needlecraft club and DD reported this to me as though it was a great scandal (I soon put her straight) but I've noticed that there is a good deal of 'you can't do/wear/play that, it's for girls/boys' going on between the children themselves in the playground sad I don't think you can blame the school for that, some kids have eejits for parents and many are far too influenced by telly - DD & I undertook an audit of adverts shown on kids tv one morning and the gender stereotyping for toys that could be enjoyed by either gender was horrendous - it's insidious and it starts young.

SlightlyTerrified Sat 08-Feb-14 09:12:59

The gender stereotyping of food and toys is crazy, there are lots of neutral toys that are made in both pink and blue which is daft, that is just bizarre but I think this is a different issue to the school clubs. The muller corner yoghurts are one ridiculous example. This could well be what is conditioning children possibly more so than the parents.

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