Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Quick Lesson On Gender Equality

"You're turning us into girls." My oldest said when I was telling them what they needed to do after their homework. "Excuse me?" I asked. (Though inside I was screaming WHAT?!) "You're not letting us be wild and have fun and instead want us to clean." he answered.

I suspect the problem was not turning them into girls but the NOT letting them be wild and have fun part. Nevertheless, after this brief exchange did the lecture on gender equality began. I explained how boys and girls can both do the same things, it doesn't matter if they're a boy or a girl.

It's amazing how children learn from their home life. I'm a stay at home mom, so I do most of the cleaning around here and my husband works. There are things that he does but my boys are usually in school when this happens, so they don't witness it.

I had to calmly explain, albeit I was getting heated, how just because they don't see their dad doing any cleaning around here doesn't mean he doesn't. Also, it's perfectly fine and expected for boys to do cleaning and things he "thinks" only girls do and vice versa. I said girls can be fun and wild too. He said that the girls in his class are not like that. I explained that it's okay because that their choice but, once again, just because he doesn't see it doesn't mean it can't or doesn't happen.

I explained to him what sexism and discrimination is. Yes, that may have been over the top but he's old enough to start understanding what those things are. It was a perfect opportunity to have this conversation and a teachable moment.

All I want for my boys are to be fair, just, honest, trustworthy, loving, kind, respectful and well rounded individuals. I have no doubt that they are well on their way to becoming those individuals. But when I hear those types of comments, I need to make sure that they understand what's okay and what's not. If I allow them to believe that girls and boys can't do the same things, then I am contributing to what's wrong with gender equality in this world today. I don't want them to fall into the mentality that just because they are men and are working, they don't have to contribute to the keeping of the house.

If I had a girl, I would tell her that she can do anything a boy can do. So, why can't I explain to my boys that boys can do anything a girl can do.

I don't consider myself to be a feminist but I do believe that gender equality is important but above that, human equality is most important of all.

I am also linking up on Things I Can't Say Blog on her Pour Your Heart Out Wednesdays. I've done this once before and loved it.




Day 8 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

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12 comments:

  1. This is so interesting and its great you handled it so well.

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  2. wow, what a great lesson for the day on gender equality! Dianne, u did the right thing in teaching ur boys gender equality at an early age. i admire the way u handled it. yes, girls wanna have fun, too! i mean boys & girls alike! job well-done. bravo!

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    1. Thank you Oly. I'm trying to do right by my boys. :-)

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  3. Oh yes, I so agree! I've found that there's this whole "girls can do anything boys can do" thing. And I agree. Yet, if a boy does a "girl thing" then there's backlash. I'm trying to teach my boys differently.

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  4. I haven't explicitly taught this to my boys. You're making me think it would have been a good idea though! At their school all the subjects are pretty much evenly distributed between boys and girls - sciences and arts - but my eldest son ended up in Engineering which is almost all boys. My husband cooks better than me and is often seen ironing (when the soccer is on TV to ease the boredom of the Mt. Everest ironing pile) so I'm hoping that evens things up at home especially as cleaning is not something I do that often or relish LOL

    In any case, it's amazing how good boys get at cooking and cleaning when they eventually get their own place and a girlfriend who won't put up with any lack of sharing :)

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    1. Ana, I never thought to teach this to my boys either. I was naive enough to think that they wouldn't use gender as division of cleaning to not cleaning. It was definitely one of those moments in life that are teachable. The opportunity came up and I had to pounce on it real quick. The lesson needed to stick.
      My husband cooks, they do see him cooking, and they all admit, even I admit, that he cooks better than me. But my hubby is gone for work most nights that they are home from school. My husband irons as well and even washes his own clothes when the laundry monster has threatened to eat us all. But they don't see this and even if they do, mommy does a lot of things for them.

      And yes, I agree with you how quickly that happens when they are on their own.

      Thank you for commenting, I appreciate it.

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  5. I'm curious why so many people, including you, say, "I don't consider myself a feminist but I do believe in gender equality." What's so wrong about being a feminist that we have to separate ourselves from the word, even as we embrace the ideal?

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    1. Very interesting question and point you bring up, Les. I believe myself to be someone who believes in equality for all, not only gender equality (though gender equality was the theme of this post). So to consider myself only a feminist does not encompass all that I believe in, equality for all.

      While I can't, and won't, answer for all as to why others won't want to use the word "feminist", the word can and should be embraced without any feelings of reproach from someone who believes differently or from someone who doesn't like the word.

      Thank you for your comment and bringing up an interesting question.

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  6. Loved that you seized that moment as teaching opportunity. Love that you thought it was worth it to have the difficult conversation. My son is only 3, but this post helped me appreciate that he sees his dad cook dinner and clean up even though I'm a SAHM.

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Melissa. I'm a firm believer in teachable moments and life being the best teacher for real world situations. It's sometimes hard for our children to see the other parent doing things when one is a SAHM. I'm glad that your boy gets to see his dad cooking and cleaning. Your son has the best male role model in his dad.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts. :-)