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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.

LevantineHummus Wed 29-Mar-17 22:02:05

*repercussion for the boys!

getoffthesofa Wed 29-Mar-17 22:26:53

I v much like the essay idea! Will tell her! But seriously- until men and boys put the bloody work in all the emotional and intellectual labour is left to women.

The pressure is on her now to do well and "show them" - it's that usual thing of grls and women having to work twice as hard to prove themselves against less worthy men.

Argh. I can bear the fact that all this plays out over and over again.

Chaotica Wed 29-Mar-17 22:33:00

I'm impressed by your DD too OP. That is awesome.

quencher Wed 29-Mar-17 22:43:52

Am so proud of both of you, especially your Dd. You have an amazing child on your hands and she will be a joy to the world. She is teaching the kids in her class a thing or two. It won't always go her way but being brave is what counts. It changes things.

Your post made me teary in the eyes. In a good way because it shows hope that there are young people out there to follow our footsteps.

getoffthesofa Wed 29-Mar-17 23:06:07

Oh gosh, you women are so kind. This feminist-ing /parenting lark is tough, but maybe just today I feel like we are on the right track?

But pride comes before...etc. Tomorrow we will be back to arguments about picking up your own pants and finishing homework.

LevantineHummus Thu 30-Mar-17 10:24:21

That made me laugh OP, rather a lot!

getoffthesofa Thu 30-Mar-17 12:10:53

It's that Monty Python thing: "He's not the messiah! He's a very naughty boy" wink

SeaRabbit Sat 01-Apr-17 09:52:02

I think she's been great too.

I am proudest of my DS (17) when he's a feminist - he runs a sort of debating club at school and always encourages the girls to speak since as he says the boys will otherwise talk over them and also the girls say more sensible things. And when he ran a quiz team recently he made sure there was at least one girl on his team of 4 by asking a girl to join - lots of boys volunteered but no girls. His school needs more girls like your DD - there are some but they are a tiny proportion - it's sad.

getoffthesofa Sat 01-Apr-17 11:54:34

It would be so great for DD to know some boys who actually get it. I guess at 13 they are still very young, but if anyone at all had actually understood, she might have felt a bit better. So good that he gets positive discrimination and recognises the behaviour of the boys steam-rollering over the girls. You have clearly done a v gd job with him. more like him please world!

Datun Mon 03-Apr-17 15:21:58


I read your OP with a sinking heart. I instantly felt torn. Huge admiration for your daughter, but all my maternal protection coming to the fore wanting to keep her from the backlash.

I'm so glad it didn't go as far as it could have. And it sounds like the teacher gets it. I wonder if there could be a lesson on the back of this?

Maybe a class discussion about something topical, or popular where a child (maybe one of each sex to make it fair) record how many times the boys speak and how many times the girls speak. But no one is told that beforehand.

It would be interesting to see if there is a discrepancy. And a discussion could flow from that. It might open up people's eyes.

This world needs women like your daughter. You must be very proud.

GuardianLions Mon 17-Apr-17 12:08:27

Totally love your daughter.
I remember arguing a lot as a teen and although it did pit me against people, and made be frequently feel isolated or in a state of constant combat simply for wanting to socialise, I just couldn't take all the sexism lying down.
In my first feminist meeting (a book group), I was feeling worn down, I told the women about how my brother had kindly told me to rein myself in a bit, stop using words like 'patriarchy' that would immediately make people switch off and see me as an idiot, and how he used to want to rail against unfairness, but he had learned to accept things as they are, and make the best of things instead of 'trying to change the world'. He was really close to convincing me there was just a problem with my personality.
Lucky for me without a second's hesitation, another book group member said "Well he would be okay with accepting the world as it is wouldn't he? The injustice works to his advantage." Touche!

Having said that, I don't think that joining feminist groups is the only solution, if I could turn back time, I think I would be using the system, such as complaining to teachers, etc, in the way you have done. Perhaps even starting up a feminist group in the school or insisting certain topics get taught. I am pleased to see how well that is working out, and think that... well... more of that is a good thing, not just for your daughter, but for the whole school and all the pupils in it.
Well done both!

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