Archive for October, 2010

The windy city’s gender enrichment classes

October 25, 2010

As a mother, I am always looking for ways to keep my son busy and socialized, and this includes enrolling in our local park district kids’ classes. We just received the winter season catalog and I was flipping through it, and came across two class descriptions that dumbfounded me. Keep in mind that each of these classes are directed at 3- to 5-year-olds.

1. Princesses on Parade: Have fun with your favorite princesses and just celebrate being girls! Each week we will talk about different princesses and do other fun girl stuff. We will read a story, make a project and do some singing and dancing. On the last day, we will wear our princess costumes and have a tea party. Parents, we will be talking about the princesses’ strengths and good deeds, as well as having fun.

2. Totally Dudes: Calling all boys! Pirates, dinosaurs, trucks, trains, sports, jumpin’ and playin’. This class is just for boys. Each week will be a different theme and we will make a project, include a little science and math, have time in the Motor Room, and just celebrate being boys.

Am I the only one disturbed by these descriptions?? Notice how the boys’ class lists stereotypical things boys may like as well as learning science and math. There is no mention of any academic activities in the girls’ class, unless you consider talking about strengths and good deeds of fictional princesses to be learning activities. As a little girl, I didn’t particularly like princesses or dress-up games or tea parties. I had toy cars and Legos, and I happened to like science and math. What class would I have joined then? I can’t believe that in 2010 they are still reinforcing those good ol’ gender stereotypes.

Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with little girls liking princesses and little boys liking pirates and dinosaurs, but…to me this is just silly. Maybe I wouldn’t have such a problem with it if they offered some science and math to the girls’ class as well. But what do I know?

#MFIF

RA, Chicago

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Your body is a target

October 25, 2010

I used to volunteer at a community center (until it was shut down due to lack of funding 😦 )several blocks from where I lived and would usually walk there to help out on my days off from work. Not only was it a nice view of some of the older parts of the city, but I very much enjoyed walking and always feel healthier and happier the more I do it.

One of the first times I made the trek down to the community center, I noticed a group of young men, maybe in their late teens or early 20s (not too much younger than me), sitting on the front porch of one of the houses. I was walking down the sidewalk across the street from them and could see them watching me. As I got closer to them, one of them yelled out, “Tight clothes don’t make fat chicks look skinny!” and then another, “I’ve seen dog shit that looked better!” followed by, “Bitch!” and other darling epithets. All just because I was walking down a sidewalk minding my own business.

Okay, so I’m not skinny, but it’s not like I’m obese either. I’ve always had a few extra pounds ever since I hit puberty, but I’m nowhere near being unhealthy.

Also, the clothes I was wearing at the time were far from being tight. I remember exactly what it was: loose-ish t-shirt and a long peasant skirt that went down to my ankles. I couldn’t for the life of me think of how I could have been seen as wearing tight clothing, especially in an ankle length skirt! Maybe because the strap of the shoulder bag I was carrying was positioned between my breasts, accidentally accentuating them? Oh no! I have boobs! I must be out the get male attention! Which of course is just disgusting if I’m not a waif-thin supermodel.

Furthermore, it made me a little nervous to be getting so much negative attention in a part of town known to be crime-ridden. The way they were acting I thought they might actually try to follow me, but they thankfully decided to stay on their own block. After that, I changed my course a bit so that I would be walking 2 streets down from then on and I started carrying a big walking stick with me (for protection and because, admittedly, it looked really cool.)

What really bugged me about it is I knew they were insulting my appearance and weight because they thought it would be the most emotionally damaging thing to me as a female. They probably would have been less likely to yell things at a random overweight guy walking down the street because they would think, “This dude is bigger than me and I don’t want him trying to kick my ass!” I know guys can get harassed about their weight too, but overweight men are more likely to be seen as “jolly” or “manly”, especially the ones with just a few extra pounds like I have, while overweight women are always “gross” or “sad” (unless their weight is being fetishized, of course).

Oh well… Guess it’s all my fault because I just so happen to have boobs and big hips.

#MFIF

Serafina, Missouri

Cleaners, not managers

October 25, 2010

My mother has worked at an apartment complex for about three years with her husband. He was technically in charge of the office, collecting rents and other things, but really my mother was the one who knew everything in her head. Which apartments were free, which were rented to who, who owed how much, what day of the week and how often they paid, etc. Everything.

Recently we had a bad go of things and my step father died. My mother made out worse because although the boss is extremely understanding and knew both my mother and step father for years, she was immediately downgraded in her job to being nothing more than a housekeeper. The people who replaced her not only run bad hours, but have no idea what is going on and have messed up numerous balances. It was bad enough when renters who called DEMANDED to speak to the male manager, only to be redirected back to my mother because she was the one who knew everything backwards and up-side-down. Now that there is no man to supervise her, I guess my mother would just make a mess of things, regardless of the fact that she was the one who kept things running smoothly, and now it’s a bit chaotic.

Similarly, there have been many times when my mother notices that there is something wrong with her vehicle. She would warn my step-dad and her bosses that the vehicle had something wrong with it, but rather than look at the problem, they would insist nothing was wrong. Once we ended up stranded somewhere, and all we needed was a $3 part that my step-dad was too stubborn to buy. More recently, my mother has been swearing up and down that the the truck will break down soon. I know nothing of cars, but I know that when you turn the key it shouldn’t sound like an asthmatic trying to scream while being punched in the gut. Her boss still refuses to believe that it’s an issue.

He must think that we drive around screaming every time there’s a little bump in the road. Our fault we’re female. If only we had that elusive Y chromosome that allows us to understand complicated things like paperwork and cars. Cleaning is the only job we’re suited for.

Daughter of an undermined woman, US

Amendment 62 in Colorado, USA

October 25, 2010

It ha recently come to my attention that in Colorado an ‘amendment’ is trying to be legalized.

An anti-abortion amendment is not very surprising, and this is very similar to Colorado’s Amendment 48 (to which 73% voted ‘no’).

In more specifics, absolutely no abortions are legal. This includes pregnancy by rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger if she carries the births the full-grown child.

If that wasn’t restrictive enough, any contraceptive methods to stop pregnancies are going to be made illegal if they are not a barrier method.

So let’s get this straight: not only does the female have no choice in having the baby, she must carry it in the most extreme situations, which could be emotionally traumatic or result in physical problems or death, but she cannot use the Pill and other non-barrier methods (which is usually a female choice to my understanding), even if legally subscribed by a doctor for a medical reason other than birth control? Guess it’s #OFWF.

Choyce

Tough Call

October 25, 2010

My mother is thinking about going back for her last year of college so she can earn a bachelors degree. Why? Because my father is virtually forcing her after almost 20 years of being a stay-at-home mom.

It sounds like a man trying to help a woman reach a state of “fulfillment” – or whatever it is that comes from doing something OTHER than the soul-sucking housework that my mother has undertaken as her role in our family. And I do believe my father’s intentions are sincere. Let it be known, however, that the choices laid out before my mother are anything but pie-in-the-sky. I’m reminded of Marilyn Frye’s concept of the double bind, in which a person is left with few options and every one of them comes with a negative consequence. Essentially she or he is damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

If my mother goes back to school, she will have to send her 10-year-old daughter to daycare. If she asks my dad to quit his job or take fewer hours he probably won’t, but even if he does our family will face a serious drop in our standard of living.

If my mom doesn’t return to college, she will continue to be perceived by her peers and by my father as the “uneducated”, “unworldly”, degree-less housewife who contributes nothing to the family’s income (except for all the unpaid, tireless domestic labor that keeps our family alive and enables my dad to work, of course). If she doesn’t earn her degree now, she may be mired in her career-less state of domestic servitude forever, denying her the ability to engage in the creative labor that gives the spice of life.

As I talk to my mother about this “decision” of whether or not to go to school, I can’t help but think it’s not a decision at all. It’s a determination of the lesser of two evils, stemming from a system (patriarchy) that was out to get her from the beginning. I guess it’s #HFSF

DC from Fem Phil, Corvallis

Thought Australia was pro-choice?

October 17, 2010

A couple are facing trial in North QLD Australia for having an abortion. This is based on 111 year old laws. This is crazy.

I guess it’s our fault for wanting to decide what to do with our own bodies. I should have remembered women are public property. I guess it #MFIF

Camilla

Girls deserve guitars… but only if they’re hot

October 17, 2010

I was rocking out to Paramore (a popular rock band which happens to be all-women) on the radio the other day, and after the song was over the DJ felt the need to disseminate his opinion. “You know, they’re not bad, for a chick band,” he said. That was bad enough, but then he went on to say, “Of course, I may be biased because they’re hot.”

So, to review: we girls can’t expect to be taken seriously by or compete with men, but that’s okay – we still have the only quality that anyone ever thinks is valuable in us, our sex appeal!

…I don’t listen to that radio station anymore. Paramore still rocks, even if it’s #TFTF.

RB, Herndon, VA

Selective hearing

October 17, 2010

I’m an occupational therapist and a big part of my job is assessing for adaptations to people’s houses – wet floor showers, ramps, stairlifts, occasionally an extension, that kind of thing. I’ve been qualified more than 18 years now, and working in this particular job for more than ten, so although my side of the adaptations is the needs of the disabled person rather than the technical side, I’ve picked up enough technical knowledge to know what’s possible and what’s not. Most OTs are women, most contractors are men, but we very rarely experience any problems with contractors thinking we don’t know what we’re talking about.

Service users and their families though, that’s another matter. Today I went to see a couple. She has a long term deteriorating life-shortening illness, he has a terminal illness. He has built her a shower cubicle with a high step into it. She is a wheelchair user and can’t get into the shower cubicle. It needs to be changed to a level-access tray or wet-floor. But the cubicle is too small, bearing in mind that the woman will require assistance to shower – it needs to take two people plus a sizeable shower chair.

The cubicle backs onto a cupboard and it would be easy enough to knock through into the cupboard to give more space for the shower area. It would mean the couple losing their cupboard, which is not ideal, but the other option would be to remove their bath and put the wet floor shower in there, and they want to keep the bath. Now, I have done dozens, if not hundreds, of shower adaptations in my career, and I usually know what works and what doesn’t. I know that there is no way we can create a usable shower space for this woman within the space taken by that cubicle. But he doesn’t believe me. Apparently I don’t understand that it’s a load-bearing wall and can’t be knocked down. Yes it can, I say, but we’d need to put an RSJ in, or a lintel, depending on what’s above it. But the space doesn’t need to be any bigger, he says. Yes it does, I say, there’s no way any care worker will be able to shower your wife safely in thst space unless we make it bigger.

I’m going back on Monday with one of our technical guys, partly to get his opinion, but mainly because I know this man won’t accept what I’m telling him until he hears it from a man. Never mind my 18 years of experience, it’s MFIF.

KH, Edinburgh

Absenteeism

October 17, 2010

This story is dedicated to all the stay-at-home moms out there, as well as the devoted dads who sometimes get the short end of the stick.

Recently I, my husband, and our infant son went over to my parents’ house for a holiday dinner. While dinner was being cleared off the table and we were all waiting for dessert, my aunt and I were playing with my son in his high chair. She asked me all about my life with him at home and how I liked being a stay-at-home mom. I told her that it was difficult, but that I love being with him and feel that I made the right decision by staying at home for the time being. My husband then walked into the room to take him to be changed. Since our son was being fussy while being pulled out of his high chair, my aunt asked my husband, “Does he even know you?”

My husband froze and asked, “What the hell do you mean by that?”

My aunt: “Well, you’re gone all day and the only person he ever sees is his mother.”

My husband and I were so taken aback and offended we didn’t speak another word to her the rest of the evening.

I guess since I stay at home, that means that my son only knows me and no one else, and that I am completely alone in caring for him.

I guess since my husband works outside the home, that means that he doesn’t take part in caring for the baby and that he has no relationship whatsoever with his son.

I guess it’s #MFIF and #HFHM.

RA, Chicago

A gem of a story

October 15, 2010

I have worked in a well known high street jewellers in the UK for over 2 years now. I have worked in several shops within the chain and all 4 of the managers I have had, all the assistant managers and all but one of the supervisors have been female. The jewellery sector is generally female dominated and as far as I can tell people are not surprised to be served by a woman when they come into a jewellers, in fact, in many cases men expect this and want a “woman’s opinion”. However, many times I have encountered customers (male and female) who ask to speak to the manager and appear surprised when I call over my female manager.

It could be argued that this is just my own perception so I wouldn’t generally comment but recently there was one occasion where the (male) customer asked to speak to the manager so I called her over only for him to say: “NO! I asked to speak to the MANAGER.” and point to the only man I work with, who is in fact not my superior and actually has less experience than me.

Clearly even with a massive female workforce the managers must all be men and the only reason I called a woman over is that I stupidly misheard the customer. #MFIF

R, Scotland


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