Health

But how will they teach little girls to write their names in the snow?

Barbara Amiel September 18 1978
Health

But how will they teach little girls to write their names in the snow?

Barbara Amiel September 18 1978

But how will they teach little girls to write their names in the snow?

Barbara Amiel

It is useful to have one’s smallest actions put in perspective. Recently

after a moment of connubial bliss I looked at my husband’s hands lying next to mine. Tenderly I held them up and compared them to my own. His hands are muscular and the backs of them even boast a few ginger hairs. His fingernails, short and utilitarian, are not ornamented with Halston’s Finger Enamel Poppy Red No. 4. I concluded

that his were obviously male hands whereas mine had a beguiling touch of femininity about them.Little did I know that in reaching this conclusion I had contravened one of the basic edicts of the Ontario ministry of education.

Have students take pictures of men and women.

Compare with photographs used in commercials. Have students discuss their findings in relation to stereotyped views of male/female hands/ feet.

I had done it again. On the basis of a few stereotyped muscles and strands of hair I had jumped to the conclusion that my husband’s hand belonged to a male. Horrified at the pre-

dictability of my stereotyped mind I settled down to purge my biases with the aid of the 88-page Ontario ministry of education booklet winningly titled Sex-Role Stereotyping and Women's Studies. It had been deposited on my desk in August in plenty of time for the September 28-30 seminar on the subject sponsored by the ministry and the Ontario Association for Curriculum Development.

There is evidence indicating that sex roles are largely the result of societal conditioning.

Of course. Why, in a state of nature, free of societal conditioning, male gorillas never dream of thumping their chests and herding their females around. On the contrary, they feed tender shoots to their young and then wash the dishes.

Both males and females are confined by their respective stereotypes because

the need for societal approval makes the crossing of role boundaries extremely difficult.

Yes. This must have played havoc with the ambitions of Catherine the Great or Lucrezia Borgia. It’s sure as hell holding me back, too.

When speaking of animals or using pictures of them, encourage children to understand that there are both female and male animals, and that both may be involved in active behavior.

Right on. No more prissy teddy bears with smooth bottoms, please. Let’s see

those parts and let’s see them in action.

In the puzzle collection, include puzzles that show women and men, girls and boys, and animals in a non-stereotyped fashion.

About time. The kids have got to see more monogamous male rabbits washing dishes.

Make every effort to avoid comments such as "Nice girls don't..." and “Big boys shouldn 't..."

Absolutely. We should stop encouraging (a) girls to be nice, and (b) boys to be big. The future in Ontario belongs to little boys and nasty girls.

Read aloud some of the [children's] essays without identifying the sex of the authors. Have the children guess whether the author is a boy or a girl; encourage them to support their answers with reasons.

Yup, that’s the way to get the little buggers. If they guess correctly and give a sexist reason for it, whip ’em. Have children select a poem or a story that they like . . . Let them re-enact the story or poem but have the boys and girls change parts.

Well now, that sounds a bit extreme. Does the minister mean literally ... or is it just that Little Red Riding Hood should eat the wolf? Or should Little Red Riding Hood be a boy and the wolf a girl? Or should the wolf simply do the dishes?

Rewrite the lyrics of a song, eliminating the sex-role stereotypes of the

original; e.g. You’re Having My Baby (Paul Anka); The Girl That I Marry (Frank Sinatra).

Gee, that’s easy, but it doesn’t make much sense. Oh well, the minister knows best.

[In nursery rhymes], are the boys having more fun, doing more interesting things?

You bet. HumptyDumpty is sitting on a wall about to go down in history. He should be made to wash the dishes.

Read aloud or have students recount traditional fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, etc____Who is in need of

rescue? Who inevitably comes to the rescue?

Right on. Instead of res-

cuing Cinderella, Prince Charming should advise her to report her grievances against her stepmother to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Then he should go wash the dishes.

Role Playing: Mother as artist. The part of mother should be played by both boys and girls. Mother is at home; she is ... a writer trying to squeeze out a few paragraphs. She is interrupted, time and time again; the father comes home from work, a door-to-door sales-person knocks at the door, granny calls up for a chat, a dog or a cat needs to be fed or let out. Mother deals with all these things, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

You mean, sometimes Mother feeds the salesperson, lets granny out, and chats with the dog? Poor Mom. What a chain of horrors. Of course male writers’ wives never come home, their grannies are mute, salespersons avoid them like the plague, and their dogs are born without a bladder. It is an unfair world and the minister ought to do something.