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Can you help me make sense of why this conversation annoyed me?

(60 Posts)
Mrstumbletap Sun 26-Feb-17 16:26:27

So I'm a teacher and I am lucky to teach sixth form students too, they are awesome and come back with real questions about rape, about same sex marriage, about wearing revealing clothing, equal pay etc and want to know more, they challenge me and I challenge them back and I can literally see their minds unfolding in front of me, it's fantastic.

Anyway I am currently training a teacher too and he often observes my lessons and contributes. On Friday the students were talking about job roles and the trainee teacher I will call him '^Gary^' said "yeah but some roles are better for men, they are stronger, not all roles should be given to all people". He used army/infantry roles as an example. I challenged this but he stuck to his guns and said some things that involve strength are just better for men.

Then later the class were talking about the footage of a trump supporter being interviewed saying "women shouldn't rule a country they could start wars too easily" the reporter replies "but aren't all wars started by men?" Gary then chips in and says "No Helen of Troy started a war!"

I was then showing the students a link I found on social media called "women at the top" (don't know if you have seen it) and it shows images of The Houses of Parliament, the EU, White House meetings etc with loads of people and then another image with all the men removed using photoshop, showing there are only 1 or 2 women in these important meetings. The strap line is 'There is room for more women at the top'. Gary then says "I have no problem with the women being in these positions as long as they are qualified". But he isn't questioning the qualifications of the men in these positions?!

It has bugged me all weekend, am I over thinking this or is his challenging of these examples justified?

Pallisers Sun 26-Feb-17 16:31:33

He is a pillock. and quite likely one of those men who says "I'm not sexist in the least but ... "

I would have used his comment about things involving strength being better for men as a starting point of discussion with the pupils "well anyone want to address Gary's statement - do you think it is accurate?"

For the Helen of Troy comment I would have suggested he read his classics more attentively and also review the meanings of the words "cause of" and "started".

I would have spoken to him afterwards about the comment about women's qualifications and told him that it was inappropriate for him to single out one group as needing qualifications over another (if he had said this about say black people, how would that have sounded).

SusanTrinder Sun 26-Feb-17 16:33:30

It annoyed you, rightly imo, because he's sexist.

Like a pp said, insert 'person with disability' or 'person of minority' into his statements instead of women, and challenge away.

OneWithTheForce Sun 26-Feb-17 16:34:46

Oh wow! I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to work with him whilst he continued with these comments. does he have a supervisor? This needs addressed. He is responsible for helping to mild young minds.

KarmaNoMore Sun 26-Feb-17 16:36:03

Talk to him. He may have his own views but he needs to be able to step back to allow the students participate in the discussion, present their views, etc. and that is without considering that he is putting female students down when is also his responsibility to help them open their wings.

You are training him, please do.

Vegansnake Sun 26-Feb-17 16:36:47

He's got a down on a few of us are ok in certain positions as long as there are not enough to make a difference,or that might upset the status quo...keep a close eye on him and be ready to pull him up each time he spouts crap

VestalVirgin Sun 26-Feb-17 16:40:22

But he isn't questioning the qualifications of the men in these positions?!

Of course not.

We will have achieved true equality when unqualified women can be as successful as unqualified men frequently are.

We are not there, and will probably not be there for a long time - just look at Trump. A similarly unqualified woman would never have gotten anywhere.

Gary is a very stupid, sexist and disgusting man, whom I already cannot stand just after reading those few things about him.

I am glad I don't live in the UK so there is no risk this man will ever teach any children I know. But feel sad for the children he will end up teaching.

orangefolly Sun 26-Feb-17 16:40:44

Gary sounds like a bit of a sexist prick. I think it's the insinuation that women could get into those senior positions by positive descrimination instead of merit. And the Helen of Troy comment is off - she didn't start a war like politicians do - it was because of her beauty!! Massive gender stereotyping. With the strength thing, he is making a lazy, sweeping generalisation. Some women are stronger than some men. So what if the majority of stronger people are men? If a person fits the physical requirements of the role I don't see how it matters.

Batteriesallgone Sun 26-Feb-17 16:43:41

He's sexist. Does he have a supervisor you could chat to about this? Also it's worth you discussing your concerns with another teacher your side (colleague or boss) because to put it bluntly, you're a woman so he may well either dismiss your concerns or try and turn it into a he/she said thing. If you've discussed it with a couple of people before raising it with him you've covered your own back.

M0stlyBowlingHedgehog Sun 26-Feb-17 16:50:25

"Gary then chips in and says "No Helen of Troy started a war!""

Gary should not be a teacher because Gary is thick. He is also a sexist pillock, but his stupidity is the main disqualification.

Bitofacow Sun 26-Feb-17 16:53:50

Gary sounds like a dick. Gary is also wrong. Helen of Troy was kidnapped.

Gary needs his arse kicked.

What is Gary going to be teaching? Trying o teach.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sun 26-Feb-17 16:54:33

Which subject do you teach?

TwoLeftSocks Sun 26-Feb-17 16:55:49

There's a fb page called Man Who Has It All, which does a good job of flipping sexist comments round. I think that's a good test to show how absurd something is.!/profile.php?id=845933925525600

FleasSitOnPeas Sun 26-Feb-17 17:02:57

Isn't Helen of Troy a myth? So not even a real world example. Having to resort to fiction to try and prove his point... Sexist and not very intelligent. Are you sure he's "qualified"? wink

highinthesky Sun 26-Feb-17 17:06:25

You could exact revenge through his assessments but that wouldn't be professional.

Let him know that his comments are being construed as sexist, and as such set a poor examufor impressionable students.

Mrstumbletap Sun 26-Feb-17 17:10:40

Right thank you! It wasn't just me was it? He was being sexist.

I will raise it with him next week and say he needs to be careful if he hopes to qualify in teaching (he hasn't yet) and shape the young minds of tomorrow that these opinions of his seem to lean towards sexism. He is quite arrogant so I know he will argue and disagree.

He also said other things too about equal pay - that he disagrees that it is unequal and that women go part time after children so the pay gap is skewed. It was just too much sexism in the space of a lesson that was difficult to tackle all of it with facts. Especially when my aim was to educate the students not the 33 year old man!

Any facts regarding the issues he raised you can fling my way would be great for me to bring up in our chat.

And that 'man that has it all' page is bloody brilliant I'm going to use that next week.

tribpot Sun 26-Feb-17 17:13:20

As Gary can't distinguish between history and mythology and Gary is quite clearly a galloping sexist, I strongly suggest Gary pack a bag and get the first flight to Washington. The Trump Administration will have him wailing on CNN about the Bowling Green Massacre ("ordered by Helen of Troy") before you know it.

I would agree with PP, speak to a supervisor before Gary gets to turn this into bitter strident feminist doesn't like to have her views questioned. But also use him as a teaching aid for the class. So:

- Gary's premise is that the reason why there is gender imbalance in executive positions in government is due to a lack of qualified women competing for the roles. What evidence do we have to support or disprove this theory?

- Gary believes front line combat roles require a level of physical strength that no woman can achieve. What can we find out about the qualifications required of both male and female combatants? What can we learn from the Israeli Defence Force?

When Gary refuses to change his mind, I would then ask him whether he thinks his attitudes would be acceptable in a school if they were about people from different religions or races (and who knows, you may find he has those beliefs too). I'd ask the students what they think about teachers and how their personal beliefs should intersect with their responsibilities to their students (one of mine defended apartheid to us - I think based on the standard bollocks of the day which was it was necessary to keep the tribes living apart from each other in order to keep the peace).

M0stlyBowlingHedgehog Sun 26-Feb-17 17:28:23

Give him a ticket to Washington - love this suggestion. Going off Betty de Vos' performance in her confirmation hearing as (lack of) education secretary, they'd get on like a house on fire.

Okite Sun 26-Feb-17 17:43:01

The pay gap is also a comparison of hourly rate, so full or part time doesn't skew it in the way he imagines it does.

tribpot Sun 26-Feb-17 17:50:47

This page from the European Commission goes through the basic flaws in the 'women take time off to have babies and thus earn less' argument, with jaunty music and graphics that Gary may (or may not) be able to comprehend.

DJBaggySmalls Sun 26-Feb-17 17:55:20

Gary has internalized misogyny; he doesnt question his views at all.
Helen of Troy did not start a war. A war was started over possession of Helen of Troy.
He assumes men belong and doesnt question them.

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Sun 26-Feb-17 17:57:45

Ask Gary why he is so threatened by women.

And also show him last weeks's episode of SAS Ultimate Hell Week in which about five men dropped out as opposed to one woman, with the result that there are now more women than men remaining in the competition.

As others have said, though, in all seriousness, I'd approach it from a teaching point of view. First, the factual inaccuracy of his reference to Helen of Troy. Secondly, the insistence on promoting his particular point of view over the more valuable learning opportunity of encouraging the students to discuss alternative points of view. Ask him what evidence he can use to support his point about men just being more qualified for some jobs, rather than unsupported assertion. Ask him what resources he would use to teach the topic of the gender pay gap which would allow students to evaluate both points of view.

If he is a trainee on placement, I would certainly raise it as a formal concern with his supervisor. He sounds as if he will make a very, very poor teacher. In my experience (over twenty years of it) teenage boys rarely need their sense of male privilege shored up. Rather, they need to be encouraged to challenge and examine it.

tribpot Sun 26-Feb-17 18:07:07

DJ - you're right in your interpretation of the story of the Trojan War (fought over Helen not by her) but there's no strong evidence it ever happened in the way described. The events are supposed to have happened in the 11th century BC, i.e. 3000 years ago. Gary would have been better pointing out that Princess Leia started the war against the Galactic Empire.

JennyHolzersGhost Sun 26-Feb-17 18:10:44

If nothing else Gary needs to understand that his role is as a teacher not a pupil. So he should can it while you're teaching. He's there to observe you, not to give you the benefit of his manly opinion.
I suspect Gary has a problem with being trained by a woman though.
I would at the very least give him poor feedback on equalities awareness and receptiveness to observation and learning.

M0stlyBowlingHedgehog Sun 26-Feb-17 18:36:15

I seem to remember aged 14 that our history teacher used the Trojan war as an example of myth versus truth in historical documents. It was almost certainly a war over who got to control the highly strategic waterway through the Dardanelles and had its origins in trade and economic pressures. The myth of Helen was bolted on after the fact. But even if you just think about the mythical version, either Paris caused the war by abducting her, or Menelaus by starting a military campaign to get her back - she did not start the mythical war.

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