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Isolated for challenging boys at school

(36 Posts)
getoffthesofa Wed 29-Mar-17 11:06:39

DD (13) has just made her first foray into fighting the good fight at school, but is now feeling wounded and isolated and upset.

She asked her teacher to address the fact that she was allocated (by the boys) a supporting/passive role in a team where she is the only girl and does not want this role. They have, boringly & inevitably, given themselves the front and centre positions.

She was angry at how unfair this was and the fact that she was given no choice and that they will not negotiate.

At the weekend she wrote a fabulous letter to her teacher saying that as a minority female in her class and team (and school for that matter) she should not a) have a role that she does not want foisted on her by the boys and b) that she should be able to chose a more prominent/active role - she described it in terms of positive discrimination, visibility and opportunity for her as a female pupil.

The teacher (male) has been excellent and supported her position and directed the team to re-allocate the roles. They (the boys) have entirely ignored the direction, slagged her off to the entire class, gone off and worked on the project without her and she is now facing commentary and hassle from her whole class (girls included). She says "no one gets it Mum" and is feeling really bruised, even the sympathetic girls don't really understand where she is coming from with this. She has been told that she is being sexist, that it isn't sexist, what if it were a boy (erm - not even remotely the issue - because, dur, she isn't), she got told by a girl she has "read too much feminism" !!! Some of the comments are now veering into bullying.

My heart is breaking for her and I feel so guilty that I have sensitised her and essentially made her vulnerable to attack; she challenges something (and is right to) and then she has to go out and fight this crap on her own. The isolation of expressing a feminist opinion, socially, is horrible - how do I show her that there is solidarity out there and women who understand and believe her? I am so proud of her.

She is tired and torn between just giving it up, and really not wanting to roll over. She knows about @everydaysexism - but what else can I do? I feel awful saying, this is how the world is and you have to keep on fighting.

HelenDenver Wed 29-Mar-17 11:12:06

I am proud of her too, if that helps.

getoffthesofa Wed 29-Mar-17 11:38:19

Thank you, it does!

ElizaDontlittle Wed 29-Mar-17 11:48:08

I am sure there are so many of us that will empathise with the feeling of, well if this is how it is I want to give in. Serious respect for her tackling it positively and assertively. I'm not sure what else you can do but I am proud of her too.

ISaySteadyOn Wed 29-Mar-17 11:56:13

Your DD is very brave. So, the boys just told her 'You're doing x thing' without even discussing who would do what? That's really dreadful group work. I'd take marks off for that if I were a teacher.

OpalIridescence Wed 29-Mar-17 12:07:10

Very hard and often painful to go against a peer group and challenge status quo.

I don't know any advice to make that bruised feeling not hurt quite so much but, yes I am really proud of your daughter too, she is fighting a tedious fight that does not seem to go away.

Maybe her teacher needs to step in again, apart from the fact she shouldn't have to deal with this on her own, it might do the girls and boys some good to see this issue being taken seriously by an adult?

HamletsSister Wed 29-Mar-17 12:10:50

As a teacher, I would be reminding groups that they are learning beyond the scope of the actual project. In other words, such projects involve "soft" skills (actually, the hardest to teach) which include empathy, working with others, knowing when to speak, knowing when to listen etc, etc.

I would be allocating 2 separate marks (or pieces of feedback) 1 mark for the project's content (if Geography, the Geog stuff etc) and another for the other skills involved.

And then hammer them - fail the project.

getoffthesofa Wed 29-Mar-17 12:11:11

Yes Isay they apparently decided, and then they told her it was two against one and therefore democratic (!!). It's crappy behaviour, but the focus has now become the issue of her complaining about sexism rather than the assertion, dominance and enacting of entitled male privilege (that's me - she just points out that it is unfair!). I am quite shocked that the little buggers have ignored a direct instruction from their teacher.

It does help to hear that you think she is brave and are proud of her. I will tell her when she gets home today.

ChampagneTastes Wed 29-Mar-17 12:13:39

Your daughter is awesome. I'm sorry she's not getting the support that she needs from her peers. Why not have a chat with the teacher and see if you he and your DD can formulate a plan to tackle this?

This is the hardest bit of protest - when you find yourself isolated and laughed at. If she can make it through this with her integrity in tact she will be a force to be reckoned with.

getoffthesofa Wed 29-Mar-17 13:17:21

She is awesome! I wish she believed it. I think now we need to go into protection mode to ensure she isn't hassled further, but need to take direction from her I think. Not sure how this will pan out, but uckily hols are coming up and the gossip side will blow over.

Your messages are really helpful, I will show her. Good to know we /she aren't alone, but such a shame to see yet another generation battling this rubbish.

KanyesVest Wed 29-Mar-17 13:20:12

I'm in awe of her. Congratulations to such an articulate, knowledgeable and intelligent girl.

claraschu Wed 29-Mar-17 13:30:58

Has she seen the movie "Suffragette" or something similar? Remind her of how hard people have to fight to get rights which later generations take for granted.

If she is a Harry Potter fan, you could also quote Dumbledore from the end of The Philosopher's Stone: "There are all kinds of courage," said Dumbledore, smiling. "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” I occasionally remind my daughter of this, (but only because she loves and knows the books so well).

I think your daughter is wonderful to speak up for herself and for others. She is brave at a moment when 99% of girls are too worried about what their friends think to be able to think for themselves. I would be incredibly proud if any of my kids had this sort of courage!

Isitjustmeorisiteveryoneelse Wed 29-Mar-17 13:39:15

hamlets suggestions are excellent. Does the teacher know what has been going on since? If the teacher has been good so far maybe another discussion about how this can now be used in the way hamlet suggests, to educate the rest of the class, would be a good idea.

getoffthesofa Wed 29-Mar-17 13:52:36

He has been pretty good, and has said she should get back to him with anymore issues. She emailed him last night, but I don't know result yet. Just got a cheerful text, so hoping today going better.

AssassinatedBeauty Wed 29-Mar-17 14:02:18

Your DD is doing amazingly well to challenge this sort of thing. I hope her teacher tells the boys in her group how crappy they're being and ideally gives them a very poor mark, as they haven't done the task as expected. They should also be appropriately disciplined for ignoring his instructions to reallocate roles. Needless to say the bullying should also be dealt with, and maybe the whole class should be spoken to about bullying.

ZombieApocalips Wed 29-Mar-17 14:06:46

I have a dd the same age. There is a huge difference between the opinions that she expresses at school and the ones that she holds privately.
For example she knows a girl who is sexually active and in front of peers she talks about this in a very matter of fact way. Privately she thinks that anything more than kissing is outrageous for her age.
In my opinion, many teens consider themselves individuals but find themselves most comfortable being like everyone else. If you asked everyone in the class in private, most would agree with your dd.

Does she know the poem First They Came For The Jews? I know that this isn't a Holocaust situation but we should stick up for people in the right.

OlennasWimple Wed 29-Mar-17 14:09:42

<high five for getoff's DD>

getoffthesofa Wed 29-Mar-17 19:07:13

So she has come home in very good spirits! The resolution is not entirely great, but her teacher spoke to her team, told the boys they had behaved badly and that he agreed entirely with her (though there are no repercussions for them), but she has been moved to another group. I think/hope this diffuses it. She says no one really gets it but people have been discussing it all day - and this seems to please her a bit - I don't think she has ever felt her own effect before. She also says she actually doesn't care what other people think, when she knows they are wrong in this way. She also said she hopes other girls will see what is going on when they feel uncomfortable in similar situations, and will see what she has been talking about.

I am ridiculously proud of how resilient she is being and that she is not cowed (is that a gendered insult?!) by all of this. She loved the comments you have posted and I think is feeling like it's okay to speak up. Thanks so much for support and suggestions here for her and me - it is really good to know there is somewhere to go where people get it and care.

SheilaFentiman Wed 29-Mar-17 19:24:15

No, to be cowed is not gendered. It's from the same root as coward, I think.

OpalIridescence Wed 29-Mar-17 19:29:56

Hmmmm to the teacher moving your daughter rather than punishing the boys.

I know it is easier on your daughter to take her out of the situation but I really wish the boys had faced some sort of repercussion for blatantly trying to steamroller a classmate and then ignore the challenge to this, grrrrr.

However your daughter should feel really proud of herself, she did something very difficult and got people to talk about and question this situation.

The image of the women holding the sign above is really pertinent, when I read your OP that is exactly what I thought.

Well done again to your girl, deep thinking and made of strong stuff, makes me smile to think of her grin

AssassinatedBeauty Wed 29-Mar-17 19:33:37

Totally agree that the boys should have faced a penalty for disobeying the teachers instructions and for their sexist behaviour. Essentially they have got away with what they've done. I wonder if this will be taken into account when their work is graded?

getoffthesofa Wed 29-Mar-17 20:45:05

Personally I agree entirely and I don't understand why they are allowed to get away with ignoring a clear instruction, but that is my issue with the school not hers. Practically, though she is not having to work with them and can complete her assignment. I think the working together option wasn't going to happen as they were intractable, and she would have to be really tough to face them off in this. She is relieved and can move forward.

OpalIridescence Wed 29-Mar-17 21:13:00

No, it should not fall on your daughter to educate and face down this group so I am glad she has been moved for that reason.

I hope she does really well on her project and craps all over the original groups grade never looses her spirit.

getoffthesofa Wed 29-Mar-17 21:26:12

The bigest breakthrough is her not giving a shit - wanting to be liked and courting favour messes up so many girls and I think causes them to sell themselves short. I hope this feeling lasts for her.

LevantineHummus Wed 29-Mar-17 22:01:30

Wow! Your daughter's awesome! In the truest sense of the word! Totally staggering!

Agree too there should be some repercussion from this. Personally I'd go for extra work set like an essay on the women's rights movement or what male privilege be marked by your daughter!!

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