Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Sexism Hits Home
It's easy to ignore cries of sexism when it doesn't happen to someone you know. But when it does, the reality of it takes on a whole new perspective.
When I was a kid, I noticed that most moms brought the babies to church and most dads brought their scriptures. Men usually spoke up in Sunday School, and women seemed pretty quiet. I'm not sure why the women didn't bring their scriptures very often, but I thought it was weird. Everybody should understand the gospel, I thought.
I'm glad to see that that dynamic is changing. I thought the stereotype of women not needing to learn anything was slaughtered fairly expertly in the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, where Belle's penchant for reading was frowned upon by the townsfolk, male and female alike, but where it ultimately became obvious that Belle was the one who had the right worldview.
A couple weeks back, the LDS ward that we were supposed to be competing against in Young Men's basketball did not field a team. There were enough of us in our ward to have a pick-up game. I invited my 11-year old daughter to play. It didn't take long before the teen-aged young men began taking her skills seriously.
Her PE teacher at school is another story.
It's okay to think that females in general are not as skilled as males in general at some activities. Just like it's okay to think females are better than males in some areas. But to apply the stereotype in every case is less than counterproductive.
I will try to approximate the conversation my daughter had with her PE teacher the other day.
"Teacher, can I play basketball with the boys?"
"What would you want to do that for?"
"Cuz it would be fun."
"But you aren't as good as them, and you might get hurt anyway. It's not a good idea for girls to play sports with boys."
It's (sometimes, and in this case) a good thing my daughter is persistent. The male teacher finally relented with an exclamation of something like "Whatever. Don't get hurt!" Later on when my daughter competed just finely with the boys, her teacher was mum. I think he'll let her play ball with the boys next time, though.
She still has to deal with the frequent "You got hit out by a girl!" during dodge ball, though.
Young men and young women can do anything they set their mind to do. The fact that encouraging them to be sexually promiscuous does not belong in this category is the subject of a completely different post. But if an activity is virtuous, praiseworthy, or of good report, we should encourage everyone, male or female, to seek after such things.