Advanced search

Ensuring my 10 year old learns feminism

(30 Posts)
Christmasfairy2020 Fri 23-Oct-20 21:49:56


I have x2 children that are both girls aged 10 and 5. I am a nurse by background. My eldest told my youngest the other day that only men can be doctors and females are nurses.

I was so confused as she has met female doctors. It then turned into a long sentence of men and women are equal and there is no jobs us women cannot do.

How would you handle this situation, what would you say. She is 11 soon

OP’s posts: |
CoffeeTeaChocolate Sat 24-Oct-20 08:29:32

I can understand how you feel about this, I have an 11-year old girl as well. I also find working on their self perception so important.

All children are different, so it is hard to say exactly. If my daughter came out with a factually incorrect statement like that, I would find the statistics (have to be somewhere) to prove her wrong and gently (well not gently with my DD, she is very competitive and always want to be right) show her that she is wrong.

More generally for me it is about drip feeding why I believe that stereotypes are wrong. Commenting on expectations on girls and why they are stupid. Pointing out female role models and criticism they get. Showing newspaper articles where women are assessed based on what they wear in a professional capacity (Teresa May, Amal Clooney) which men are not. It has to be a constant, natural drip feed though grin.

It helps for me that DD is better that most boys in maths. She is fed up with being told that girls are bad at maths.

Christmasfairy2020 Sat 24-Oct-20 09:48:07

Lol. Thankyou I'll try this smile xx

OP’s posts: |
Digeridont Sat 24-Oct-20 09:56:58

Notice things out loud with her. Like how it seems the boys are playing football in the playground and the girls are round the edges, is it always like that? Like how the school shoes sold for girls have a design that is less good for running and climbing and the rain in than those sold for boys. Like how there aren’t any boys in her ballet class / choir / netball club, why does she think that is.

weaselwords Sat 24-Oct-20 10:00:00

Yes, to the dripping tap of your constant commentary. My children are men now and whilst they may mock my fervour, they “get” what I’m going on about and sure as hell understand what consent is.

Sillydoggy Sat 24-Oct-20 14:56:53

I signed up to AMightyGirl on Facebook and they post links to books particularly about famous women. Whenever I see one I say to my daughters ‘listen to this interesting story’, ‘ Did you know an American woman invented the dishwasher in the 1890’s? I figure it is drip feeding the message and counteracting school history that talks so much about men and their achievements. I also look for examples in everyday life and point them out, often with ‘that person is a bit silly the think women can’t do ...’ Every negative message is an opportunity for a discussion and don’t be afraid to show your outrage to her.

AnnaMagnani Sat 24-Oct-20 15:01:04

Did you remind her about when she saw x the female doctor?

There are more female doctors being trained now than male but even I, a female doctor tend to say 'he' if I think about a doctor blush

So I made a massive effort to stop doing this and make my default doctor a woman. You can achieve a lot by your language - just assuming someone might be a woman and being surprised if they are a man, rather than the other way round.

Sillydoggy Sat 24-Oct-20 15:03:33

Another thought - the 5 year old will be discoving a lot of sexism and stereotyping from the boys at school - every time she brings home a story ask her if she thinks that is true, that boys are better than girls? Ask her about the stereotypes- if all girls are supposed to love pink do you love pink? What about other children you know? I found my girls saw through this stuff easily when they were asked to look around them and see reality, She just needs you to confirm that she can decide for herself what is true.

Christmasfairy2020 Sat 24-Oct-20 17:37:52

Ohhh these are really good thanku xx

OP’s posts: |
Barmbraic Sat 24-Oct-20 18:04:08

As a very simple step, I've defaulted to everyone not obviously male being female. So talking about abstract jobs (doctor, nurse, engineer, firefighter, shop keeper, farmer) who isn't standing in front of us, is female until proved otherwise. Animals that aren't obviously male are female (spiders, cats, sheep, etc). At first they (now 9&11) pushed back asking, "how do you know x is a girl" which I countered with "how do you know x is a boy?". Then we got into a bit of statistics too grin. Now I hear them using female as default and occasionally correcting friends.

WarOnWomen Sat 24-Oct-20 18:25:42

That's interesting. I always make a point of saying it for animals, insects etc.

YY for raising boys to be aware of sexism too. Consent, clothes and all the rest. Today we had a discussion about facial hair because it it came up in the conversation. Drip drip drip.

Christmasfairy2020 Mon 16-Nov-20 21:25:26

Ohhh I've had some gr8 ideas thanku. What did u say about facial hair x

OP’s posts: |
Beamur Mon 16-Nov-20 22:15:49

I think you need to be aware of your own bias too - it's very easy to fall into the patterns of female socialisation and how maybe that manifests in your own behaviour. Modelling behaviour is a really powerful way to show kids what you think is important.
Keep talking, don't labour it or lecture, ask questions and get her talking too.

Bluntness100 Mon 16-Nov-20 22:19:26

I always told my daughter she can be anything she wishes to be. I am also the main breadwinner, although my husband is a high earner in his own right. I work in a male dominated industry. I am not what you’d call shy or subservient. She’s a trainee commercial lawyer and now 23.

If you wish to teach her about Feminism , then you lead by example.

Bluntness100 Mon 16-Nov-20 22:20:15

Modelling behaviour is a really powerful way to show kids what you think is important


If you don’t live it, then everything else is just noise.

AlexaShutUp Mon 16-Nov-20 22:24:15

Oh, OP, I remember having this conversation with dd when she was little - probably around 5, I think. She insisted that women could be nurses but not doctors, and wasn't willing to entertain any explanations to the contrary. I was really disheartened!

She is now 15, more outspoken as a feminist than I am, and planning a career as a doctor! So please don't despair, just keep talking to your kids about this stuff and hopefully they will get there in the end!

PickleWithEverything Mon 16-Nov-20 22:26:03

@Barmbraic - I love your thinking. Such a simple change, but challenges a really fundamental assumption that the world we live in is essentially male and dominated by males. Thanks for sharing.

AlexaShutUp Mon 16-Nov-20 22:26:39

Modelling behaviour is a really powerful way to show kids what you think is important

Totally agree with this!

Bluntness100 Mon 16-Nov-20 22:29:25


*Modelling behaviour is a really powerful way to show kids what you think is important*

Totally agree with this!

This. If you don’t live it, it only works when they are very little. When they get to nine or ten, they start to wonder why you don’t practice what you preach. If you don’t live it, then how do you explain why you believe it, but it’s not for you?

JamMakingWannaBe Mon 16-Nov-20 22:56:48

There was a sign at my DC's primary school when they were having building work done: "Men working overhead". I got a big black pen out and in front of all the parents waiting to pick their kids up changed it to "Builders working overhead". The sign might have been biological correct but I don't want DD growing up thinking all those employed in a manual trade are men. It's drip.. drip..

ClaireP20 Tue 17-Nov-20 12:09:06

That is strange actually - I just said to my 7 year old boy 'are doctors men or women' and he said 'both' without hesitation, and without me having to teach him. Do you live a sheltered life OP (I don't mean that in a derogatory way, OP, just wondered if she is sheltered or home schooled or something) x

Beamur Tue 17-Nov-20 13:27:46

My DD was exposed to the most entrenched views around sexist roles and expectations at school. Mostly from other kids but sometimes teachers.
This is hardly surprising. Kids are learning about themselves and what it means to be a boy or a girl. It's during this learning process that you talk and help open their eyes to a wider view.

Christmasfairy2020 Wed 18-Nov-20 21:29:22

No I am a nurse though hmm. I'm the main bread earner as well. I've been dripping things in though from what everyone is saying and she seems to be getting it smile

OP’s posts: |
MisfitRightIn Thu 19-Nov-20 03:45:36

I’ve been watching current and period films and TV series with female leads with my daughter over the years, as well as picking books on a similar vein. Where women run into prejudice and discrimination, so we can discuss how things were and in some cases still are.

Things like Little Women, especially talking about Jo and uni, Anne of Green Gable (we love Anne with an E), some of the American Girl line films and books Queen of Katwe, even Bend it like Beckham. A mighty girl is a great resource, and also Commonsense Media.

I agree this is really important, and have been putting it front and center with my daughter since coming on this board.

MsMarvellous Thu 19-Nov-20 08:39:35

I agree with the drip feed. It's what I do and have done from the very early days. So much so if I slip and assume a character is a "he" in a book my youngest will say that it may be a "she" grin

My 9 year old daughter is who I worry about. When the opportunity arises to mention things naturally around consent, independence of thought, being confident in who you are, I always reinforce those ideas.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in