There’s an old joke amongst English teachers – as an aside, as a person who teaches English I always feel like correcting the misplaced modifier in that title, after all, people who teach English aren’t always English – but I digress. Back to the old joke.
That joke? One English teacher asks another English teacher if they have read a certain book.
The other teacher replies, “Read it? I’ve never even taught it!”
Ha ha. Teacher humour. The fact is, that as a teacher I spend so much time “teaching” that I rarely have time to read for pleasure.
I’m usually reading literature about teaching so I rarely get to read for pleasure. As another aside, if you’re a teacher check out Rethinking Letter Grades – that’ll make you think about the work you do as a teacher around assessment.
But this week a friend of mine told me had written a book. Cool. And because I’m a dad who is pretty involved in my daughters’ lives, he figured I might enjoy reading the book.
See, in the book, Adamick talks about how most of the sexism that exists is passed off as “oh relax, it’s just a t-shirt”.
Which reminds me. When I am quoting in this blog post, I am quoting from Adamick’s book, Raising Empowered Daughters; a Dad-to-Dad Guide.
But back to the findings in the book. The fact is, it isn’t JUST a t-shirt. It is nearly ALL shirts.
When Mike Adamick was shopping for shirts for his kids he found “Boys had literally dozens of college logo shirts available to them.”
And NONE for girls. ZERO. None.
And when you start looking at the cumulative impact of all the messaging involved in clothing choices for boys and girls, then you begin to see a bigger picture.
In fact, that is what Hannah Garcia, a UK design writer did. She looked at the really big picture by creating a computer program “to scan and survey 1444 pieces of clothing for signs of bias in the animals displayed on, say, T-shirts and sweater.”
What they found was what Adamick describes as “a whole bunch of sexist bullshit.”
Or in more scientific terms, they found that “clothes for boys were more likely to have large, dangerous predators, whereas clothes for girls were more likely to depict cute, small prey animals.”
In other words, “…girls are cute prey, and boys are wild predators.”
Is that really the message we want to be sending to our children?
And then consider the quote pictured above. Even the way that “science” measures and analyses differences between boys girls is done with value-laden language .
You see if a boy measures higher than girls, the gap is noted with a plus sign.
If a girl measures higher than a boy, it is noted with a MINUS sign.
Just a little thing. Like all the other millions of little things that add up to make massive roadblocks and systemic barriers for girls.
I’ve only just started reading Raising Empowered Daughters but I’ll already say, this is a must read book – heavy stuff. Stuff that makes you think and reconsider.
The best part of the book – so far – is that even though it is full of heavy stuff that doesn’t necessarily make you feel so good, each chapter has ended with a section titled, “So, What Can We Do.” A brief section that gives the reader hope – something that can be done to make a positive change.
For example, chapter 5, an expose on the cliche of “boys will be boys” ends with the advice to “be the guy your friends are scared to death to say ‘the wrong thing’ to. Make their sexism as uncomfortable as fuck if only because we’ve all played a part in allowing it too long and are finally realizing that each piece is part of a larger whole.”
Powerful ideas. Thanks Mike Adamick for writing this book. More later, after I’ve read more.