My kids know it. Hell, they learnt it from me. And I hope they too will be using it often. Yep, the F* word. Feminism.
Growing up in the 70’s, my mum taught us kids that song, you know, the one that goes; ‘Anything you can do, I can do better….’ We all took it to heart, which led to some pretty obnoxious moments in our household, but it was her way of giving a big ‘up yours’ to gender stereotypes. As a child I really believed it. But little kids do believe stuff, don’t they? Some of that stuff sticks, the stuff about who they are. There’s no doubt about why they call them the formative years.
I now have kids of my own and I also teach them about feminism. I don’t read them feminist literature at bedtime; but do it in a quieter way. Apart from how our bodies work, in our house, gender is rarely mentioned. It’s feminism in the ‘we’re all in this together, so let’s just get on with it’, kind of way.
So we tootled along in our happy way until last year when, BAM, Primary School. Pop goes the bubble.
I’d had a mild interest in the uniforms. Having seen some of the girls at the local secondary school kicking around in school trousers, I’d assumed it would be the same at the primary. Its 2015, I’d said to myself, surely….ummm, no. It turned out that they are the very same style of uniform that we used to wear 30 years ago. Dresses for the girls, shorts for the boys.
It didn’t sit quite right with me. Those little kids who had smashed it out together in the preschool playground, a place where ‘comfort ruled’, don’t wear your bestest, favourtitist clothes, but clothes you can conquer the world in, all dressed up in ‘big school’ uniforms that appeared so, well, sexist.
But, I bit my tongue. I didn’t want to be one of those Kindy parents that came out swinging in our very first term. Plus, she wasn’t complaining, why rock the boat?
Autumn rolled around and time to switch to the winter uniforms. My five year old daughter trotted off in the only options available to her; a starched white shirt, heavy winter tunic, and hideously uncomfortable tights. Watching her line up for assembly was the final straw; un-frigging-believable, the boys are in long sleeved polo t-shirts and elastic waisted pants. Clothes a kid can move in! Why can’t the girls choose to wear that too?? I flashed forward a few years to when her brother would join her at school. How on earth would I explain to them why she had to dress up like a nun while he could be casual and comfortable? Sorry kids, in this world, sometimes females just have to suck it up and wear the dress.
But they don’t, do they? Not anymore. If I worked in the Police Force, the Ambulance Service, hell, even McDonalds, I wouldn’t have to wear a dress. In fact I could probably sue someone for suggesting it. So why does my daughter? Because the Department of Education says so?
Mamamia’s Women of the Year aren’t afraid of the ‘F’ word either. Post continues after video…