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teaching our daughters to be feminine

(93 Posts)
Tewkespeggy Thu 22-Sep-11 23:39:34

I have a bit of an issue with the school on 2 feminine points

1 the boys outnumber the girls two to one. But the school insists on sitting two girls and four boys on each table. ALWAYS. i just feel that we are teaching our girls to defer to boys because they are always outnumbered. why cant they have an all girl table once in a while. shouldnt we also be teaching our girls to get along with each other?

2 New school rules say that from yr4 all girls MUST wear a tie. I am SO against it becuase it just isnt feminine. I can take you to the square mile and show you 1000's of men wearing ties and how many women? Feeling i should boycot the tie, but feel torn because I let her wear trousers... which are practical in the winter. but what practical purpose do ties on a 8yr old girl achieve?

Canvassing opinions please

ecclesvet Thu 22-Sep-11 23:43:18

So on point 1, you want to discourage traditional femininity (i.e. deferring to boys/men), but on point 2 you want to encourage a feminine style of dress - seems a bit contradictory?

Perhaps the 4 boys/2 girls to a table is a boy-girl-boy seating policy? Or wanting mixed genders to curb disruptive all-boy/girl tables?

On point 2, but what practical purpose do ties on a 8yr old boy achieve?

Tewkespeggy Thu 22-Sep-11 23:48:07

yes it is contracdictory... thats why i need some opinions. i want her to be a strong independant woman, able to hold her own in any situation, but i dont want her dressed like a bloke while she does it.

I didnt think about the boys wearing ties but... when i went to school, albeit a much rougher school than dd goes to now... when i went to school, the tie was the first thing grabbed for in a fight!

Tortington Thu 22-Sep-11 23:50:11

my son (now 22) campaigned as year rep on exactly the tie issue. he campaigned that either boys shouldnt wear ties or girls should - but equality must prevail.

his aim was to not wear a tie .....anyway, his campaign was successful and they introduced ties for girls grin

moondog Thu 22-Sep-11 23:50:49

I think you are over analysing the whole thing.
That you think such a seating arrangemnt teaches girls to defer to boys is so odd.
Wanting an all girls table is weird-as if girls can only be assertive in all female environment?
Why not just put 'em all in a veil? It's a small step to that sort of logic.

Tortington Thu 22-Sep-11 23:51:16

ties in and of themselves serve no purpose and cause no end of grief

confidence Fri 23-Sep-11 00:03:55

Ties are the work of the devil and should be banned forever. But it seems the epitomy of sexism to me to say that boys ought to suffer them and girls not, in the name of some wierd concept of "femininity".

Personally I think school uniforms, if they have to exist, should be non-gender-specific. There should be a range of options and any child should be allowed to wear any of them. Most of what schools do to define kids by gender is completely unnecessary and of no good to anyone anyway.

WideAwakeMum Fri 23-Sep-11 00:08:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Catitainahatita Fri 23-Sep-11 00:10:42

Disclaimer: I hate uniforms of all kind. That said:

(And apologies in advance if this sounds like I'm getting at you. I'm not really, I am just a bit adverse to the idea that "dressing like a boy/girl" is something we should be instilling into our children. You are entitled to think differently, but since you posted this in the feminist section I feel that perhaps you might be interested in a my viewpoint as a feminist)

So: If you see the contradiction in opposing wearing a tie and opposing majority male tables, can you not see that catagorising clothes by biological sex also has the potential to reinforce and strenghten gender stereotypes (of the type you are trying to avoid in point 1)?

The issue about dressing boys and girls differently -for me- is making sure that everyone know what sex they are at simply first sight. It might seem something quite benigne and not worth getting upset about; but, it tells children -albeit- in a subtle way that boys and girls are different as a result they should be treated differently (ie wear different clothes). You justify wearing trousers on the grounds of practicality, which I find a bit strange beacuse it seems to imply that you'd rather she wore a skirt really, but that you are compromising for the sake of her warmth! Personally I would rather my dd or my ds decided if s/he wanted to wear a skirt or trousers, not for me to say what they ought to wear because of the sex they happen to be.

What I am trying to say is that it would be more consistent with the view you express in point 1 to oppose tie-wearing for all ; or embrace it for all. Rejecting it as "boy's clothes" seems a bit self defeating. I would be tempted to ask you what purpose it serves to put a 8 year old boy in a tie.

Long rambling post. Sorry. I hope I make at least a little bit of sense.

piprabbit Fri 23-Sep-11 00:28:36

I think that sharing a table and working with boys is a very effective lesson for girls to learn that they can work alongside men and make a valid contribution to a team or workplace. I have personally always enjoyed working in a male-dominated environment and have never felt the need to defer to them because of their gender.

The tie thing is a red herring - uniform should be just that - uniform. The rights and wrongs of tie-wearing for any children is a whole other debate.

workshy Fri 23-Sep-11 00:36:02

my daughters school the DCs wear ties from year 3, both boys and girls, the local high schools wear ties and I wore a tie from reception
makes the kids look smart and doesn't damage the feminity

does the seating plan in class really make a difference?
put 6 7 year old girls on a table and they will either giggle and gossip or bicker and fall out -they are better to be with the boys

SuchProspects Fri 23-Sep-11 00:55:56

I don't think you should discuss the two issues together with the school - it will be hard to make any progress if you broach the two together.

Personally I think the 4 boys 2 girls thing is the bigger issue in terms of direct impact on your DD(s?). Girls defer to boys in mixed sex schools. Having them always outnumbered lessens the likelihood that they will take on leadership roles within their table group and means that they will never be in a situation where the dominant experience is their experience. The fact that your school always seats them in this way means they are always being treated in terms of their gender - not their skill set, learning needs or other educationally relevant factors. That would worry me a lot. I'd also be concerned if they were using the presence of girls to moderate the behaviour of the boys. You're children should not be used to boost others' attainment at their own expense.

On the uniform front - I think the wearing of a school tie by girls is one of the ways that schools have brought in "equality" by making girls conform to male standards. I think it is yet another outcome of the fact that institutions still see women as other. But I don't think the wearing a tie part of going to school in that sort of an environment is of significant harm. It's the overall view of female norms as a frivolity or as being less than masculine ones that is harmful - getting rid of the tie won't change that really. But if it's an English state primary school my understanding is that they cannot enforce a uniform anyway - so you may be able to easily avoid complying if you want to.

Is the school otherwise a good school - by which I mean do the girls it turns out seem confident, happy and well rounded, as likely to enjoy maths as art, science as English? And do you think your children are likely to thrive there? I would definitely be concerned about sending girls to a school they were so out numbered at.

PrideOfChanur Fri 23-Sep-11 07:29:58

To take a slightly more frivolous approach perhaps you should take a straw poll on how many MNers wore ties at school?
I am oldish and AFAIK most/all schools had ties as part of school uniform when I was at school.It wasn't "boys' clothes,it was just school uniform,and I am sure your daughter will look on it like that.I wore a tie until I was 16 and I have never felt the least urge to wear one as an adult.

The implication that you would prefer her not to wear trousers seems a little odd to me in this day and age,when so many adult women wear trousers in all kinds of situations,and those who want to look feminine manage it perfectly well (personally I agree with what catitainahatita says about the emphasis on dressing like a boy/girl etc)'.
As far as the table organisation goes I don't think the school should be using gender as its main criteria in deciding who sits where - this wouldn't bother me some of the time,but I think it should be mixed with seating by other criteria.

MumblingRagDoll Fri 23-Sep-11 07:37:29

As a student I worked in a West End THeatre where they made us wear bow-ties...I had issues with this....they look stupid for one and for's male formal wear!

actually I agree, ties look daft but the table issue, you're not teaching girls to defer to men by seating them beside them...that's life...we sometimes are outnumbered.

Bonsoir Fri 23-Sep-11 07:41:39

I don't agree that you are contradicting yourself with your two points. Wearing a tie is a traditional marker of masculinity; men being in a position to outnumber and outwit girls is a traditional marker of masculinity.

I would want as many tables where girls outnumbered boys as tables where boys outnumbered girls and I think girls should have their own girl-appropriate dress code.

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 23-Sep-11 07:49:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AlysWorld Fri 23-Sep-11 07:59:48

Yep the table thing problematic. The tie thing doesn't really bother me (except the idea attached that girls should be 'feminine').

The school should be mixing up the balance on tables. That's pretty basic educational practice.

Bonsoir Fri 23-Sep-11 08:02:26

Girls should be allowed to be feminine as much as boys should be allowed to be masculine. And if girls want to be masculine and boys want to be feminine, that's fine too. What is not OK is imposing traditional masculinity willy-nilly on a group of small impressionable boys and girls.

Himalaya Fri 23-Sep-11 08:23:17

I hate the whole ties-for-girls thing. I think it does show that a school isn't really thinking about the messages it gives to girls about growing up as confident young women. Instead it makes them dress up in drag that bares no relationship to women's professional dress.

Anecdotally I notice that girls schools are more likely to go for school blouses as the uniform (I.e. What suits girls) where mixed schools more often say 'uniform is uniform' and base it around the male standard. I've never seen a mixed school set their standard shirt as an open coller blouse - this is no more ridiculous on a boy than a tie is on a girl.

PrideOfChanur Fri 23-Sep-11 08:24:30

So,Bonsoir,are you really arguing for a non-gender specific dress code?
Because these two statements aren't compatible..
"I think girls should have their own girl-appropriate dress code"
"And if girls want to be masculine and boys want to be feminine, that's fine too. "

A gender based dress code does not allow scope for those children who do not want to dress "gender appropriately" - you can't have it both ways!

And I don't think any of us girls looked on our ties as a traditional marker of masculinity when I was at school!

Bonsoir Fri 23-Sep-11 08:26:59

Well, at DD's school, the dress code is plain (ie no patterns, no logos) navy blue, plain grey and white. Your child, boy or girl, may be dressed in any combination of those colours or in a single colour. All coats must be navy.

I think this allows children to express their personality, their masculinity, their femininity and whatever else they want.

Bonsoir Fri 23-Sep-11 08:27:42

I hated wearing a tie at school. I cannot describe how belittling I felt it to be.

PrideOfChanur Fri 23-Sep-11 08:39:52

Bonsoir - One of the things I love about MN is the insight you get into how other people feel - I've never discussed school ties with my friends.
Having worn ties at primary,secondary,brownies (like I said - oldish) I'd not thought that it could be interpreted as belittling.
But I'm not particularly feminine,so if I had thought of it as a boy thing I would probably have been quite pleased.

Personally I would have much preferred an Aertex-type shirt over a school blouse - I find shirts uncomfortable,they pull and bind, or at least they do if they are womens shirts. So I never wear shirts/blouses now,especially at work.

Your DC's school dress code sounds very sensible.

PrideOfChanur Fri 23-Sep-11 08:41:50

Shirt confusion there - aertex t shirts,comfortable,blouses/shirts of the collar and cuffs variety uncomfortable - to me.

BecauseImWorthIt Fri 23-Sep-11 08:45:00

Why do you allow a piece of clothing to determine how you see someone? It is you who is investing 'masculinity' into the tie.

(I happen to think a tie is a particularly stupid piece of clothing, but that's a totally different argument!)

And why do you want your daughter to be feminine? Why not just let her be her?

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