Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sexism often overlooked when considering what's bad for children

A few days ago, I met a woman who was weighing the pros and cons of enrolling a very young family member in a church school. The way she described the school sounded like it might be a fundamentalist-type outfit, so I asked her as politely as I could if it was. She immediately became defensive and said "maybe to you." I told her that I had not personally defined "fundamentalist"--it either was or it wasn't. She then described what was indeed a fundamentalist church school.

Not wanting to offend her any further, I told her that the only reason I was asking was that some of those schools had been abusive toward children. She said that wasn't the case with this one, but that they had "very strict rules." She also said it was a good school.

I asked her if the "very strict" part involved teaching and maintaining rigid gender roles. She sighed, nodded her head, and said, rather sadly, "I'm afraid so." "Then how," I asked her, "can you consider it a 'good school' for the child?"

She didn't answer.

Why is sexism given so little weight in decisions made by families? And by women? There is all kinds of sexist garbage taught in schools and churches, and not just the fundamentalist ones, but parents, for the most part, do not seem to care. Many of these same parents would be upset if they thought their children were learning racism or anti-Semitism (yes, I know many of them would not be upset at all, but I am talking about parents who at least give lip service to not wanting bigotry taught to their children).

No matter how well girls are doing in the schools--and the whiny boys' movement tells us all the time that the poor boys are not doing well because school is so, you know, girly--they are still under the belief that they are supposed to be generally passive, wait for boys to ask them out, and submit to sexual activities they do not want to participate in.

Some of them have caught on, though, and they complain that they are not allowed to use the Internet or the phone until they have done their household chores, but that their brothers have no such restrictions. They are criticized by their fathers for wearing clothes that--as one father put it--"would have been called 'slutty' when I went to school." And most dangerous of all, many of them are still forced, day in and day out, to see their parents model sexist gender roles at home. Their brothers, of course, witness the same behaviors.

6 Comments:

i don't think it's just overlooked when considering what's bad for children--but women do this in general.

i grew up in a rigidly gendered/mysoginistic church which my mother and i left when i was 10 (for other reasons) but my mother decided to go back there when i was 17.

i asked her how could she considering their views on women?

her answer was that they were "good in everything else".

i think this is a general perspective among women: they should not consider themselves as worthy of consideration; other things are more important--every other thing.

By Blogger catswym, at 10:47 AM  

You're right. And every time they allow themselves to be abused or passed over by sexism, they model misogyny for their children--both girls and boys.

By Blogger Diane, at 11:45 AM  

Hi,

Cute cat. Looks like mine, except for the white.

Hey, I don't mean to state the obvious, but boys and girls are different. I don't think a woman is truly happy unless they can find their identity in being women. It's hard to be a woman if you're suppose to want to be the same as a man and vice verse. Just my opinion dear. :)

By Blogger Kaye, at 3:20 PM  

I'm sorry, but I have no idea what you're talking about in regard to the post. Of course women have to find their identies in being women; no one said anything about wanting women to be the same as men. The discussion is about women allowing themselves to be victims of sexism and thereby modeling victim behavior for their daughters.

If you are speaking in support of rigid gender roles such as the ones taught in some church school and illegally taught in federally funded abstinence programs, then you are speaking in support of sexism. Those programs teach that men are always the head of the household, that girls are supposed to be submissive, that women's lives have to be centered around the home, etc.

By Blogger Diane, at 3:52 PM  

Exactly, that is what your post is about, but sexism isn't the proper term since that has such a negative connotation. Poor children. How confusing must it be for them to not know that we have proper roles. Perhaps that's the link to the gay surge over the last 15 years? Just another opinion dear.

Kaye

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:17 AM  

Gotta go. Been nice chatting with you.

Kaye :)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:42 AM  

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