Four years ago my life was simple (ish) All we had was boys. Three of them, ranging from ages 6 to 10.
It wasn’t always a bed of roses but when it came to gender inequality I was pretty much in the dark. I grew up in a house where both parents worked, the majority of discipline was done by my mother, I had a single mother for an Aunt and another working in the oil industry. Not as a secretary I might add!
When I started working, I had female managers. There were women in positions of power and responsibility. I was aware of the gender pay gap and some of the other struggles women have to go through, but had no real insight into it.
When Little Miss OMG burst into my life in a whirlwind of pink, dresses and hair bobbins my easy life changed. I also became more aware of gender stereotypes, feminism and other gender issues. I’m not the only one this has happened to. It’s well documented that CEO’s who are father’s to daughters increase women’s pay. Judges who have daughters vote more often in favour of law’s that increase women’s rights than those with son’s.
This is obviously a good thing. There is a long way to go, many men out there don’t have daughters and are like I used to be.
It’s not just men though, since having a daughter I’ve noticed men and women saying some things definitely not in keeping with promoting equality. There are quite a few that are prevalent but this one, and it’s variants, is perhaps the one that I hear the most. Probably because Little Miss OMG has 3 older brothers.
God help her boyfriend with three brothers to look out for her!
WHAT! This is wrong on so many levels. Let’s look at what message this sends to our daughters first.
- You need your brothers to look out for you.
- You aren’t capable of making decisions about a man’s suitability on your own.
- They are boys and therefore their opinion is more important than your own.
- Never mind it’s ignoring the fact she might grow up to NOT be heterosexual!
Then there is the message this sends to our sons.
- Women need protecting.
- You can’t be trusted to treat a women properly.
- It’s ok for you to interfere in your sisters relationships.
I will be raising Little Miss OMG to be independent, hopefully level headed and able to make decisions about who she does and doesn’t hang around with.
I am raising the boys to treat women with respect, this includes their sister. That we all make our own decisions and whilst we might not agree with their choice of friends or partners, it is their choice and no one else’s.
In light of all the #metoo tweets, posts and statuses there is going to have to be a conversation about what they should do if they see someone behaving inappropriately towards any girl.
photo credit: Sally T. Buck Protest against Bill C-51 – April 18, 2015 – Vancouver BC, Canada via photopin (license)