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It’s Not About Soccer, It’s About What Traditional Schooling Is Teaching Our Children About Gender Rolls.

I’m going to have a rant, but first, the back story. 

I attended the same school, from start to finish. I entered that schooling system at age 5 and matriculated at the same school at age 18. It was an all girls school. The majority of my teachers were members of The Black Sash. They were open minded, liberal thinkers with strong ties to feminism. They believed and stood up for equal rights, regardless of race, religion or gender. 

As a student passing through that system, I didn’t truly appreciate the lesson’s that those women were imparting to me, not till I was much older, much wiser and now especially that I am a mother, raising two daughters STILL fighting for the equal rights of women.

I am a feminist. 

I believe in equal rights for both men and women. I don’t hate men. But I do despise our patriarchal society. I’m sick of hearing what women should be like, how women should act, what women should do. I am a fighter by nature and, especially now that I am a mother of two daughters, I find myself fighting even harder against the patriarchal norms that are forced upon us.  

So now for the story.

At the beginning of the school year, the school sent home a list of summer extra mural activities for the kids to choose from. One of the mom’s on our class Whatsapp group, inquired if her daughter could enroll for cricket. She was told no, cricket was only for the boys. My blood BOILED! But my husband told me that I should calm down and let it go. It’s not like Ava had expressed an interest in playing cricket and honestly, it was my all girls school education, interfering with how things “normally” are. Apparently.

Fast forward to this week.

We had to choose winter extra murals for the kids. The choices were art, netball and soccer. Ava wanted to play soccer, she is SO excited about it, she’s already chosen the soccer boots she wants us to buy for her to wear. I filled in the forms and yesterday her teacher got in touch with me to let me know that they are not allowing the girls to play soccer because they have a coach shortage and as a result, the girls have to make way for the boys!

To say I’m furious, is an understatement.

HOW DARE THEY! How dare they start teaching my daughter, at age 7, that she needs to step aside for a boy! Where is the equality and fairness in that? What lesson, what message are they sending her? I’ve had a rage headache and a sore stomach for two days from the rage and the anger.

I took to social media to ask other parents their opinions and honestly, while I shouldn’t have been surprised, the responses were exactly as I expected.

Anger, disbelief and expressions of unfairness overwhelmingly from women.

Only 3 men responded.

Interestingly, when I shared my thoughts and opinions on this with my husband, he told me I should not overact, bless him he’s a man, he has never been on the losing side of the patriarchal scale and that I should leave it alone, because that’s how it’s always been.

WRONG! Just because “that’s how it’s always been” doesn’t make it right or fair or promoting equality in anyway!

Our teacher seems as frustrated as I am. She has also informed me, I am not the only mother furious by this. I have sent a rather raging email to the school principle demanding an explanation from HER about how they came to this decision. And the teachers (all women) are seeing what they can do to get it resolved.

But I won’t let it go, my child WILL play soccer if she wants to!

And no one will tell her she can’t because she’s a girl.

Other responses to my outcry were interesting to. It would seem that boy mom’s have faced the same discrimination, where patriarchy has turned against their sons. Boys who have not been allowed to join a ballet class, taught my WOMEN, come one, we should know better than to be biased based on gender! One mom also commented that it was fair what was done because the boys didn’t have another choice in winter extra murals. Well, hello, they did, they could choose art or netball. Can we please just STOP with the x is for girls and y is for boys already.

I am HUGELY concerned by what this message is sending our children. I am HUGELY concerned that our schooling system is perpetuating such inequality. 

And I am FURIOUS at the message this is sending to my daughters!

Because as a woman, I have faced patriarchal discrimination everyday of my life.  Often, it’s so subtle, we don’t even realize it’s happening. But our grandmothers fought for equal rights, our mothers fought for equal rights and now we need to take up the torch and fight for equal rights for our daughters and our sons.

And I can’t, I just can’t let it go!

It’s not about soccer, it’s about choices, equal rights and equal choices to be able to choose to do things because we want to and NOT because we have a penis or vagina! 

And I want you to know, this is not about me wanting to take away from your son, it’s about me wanting my daughter to have the same opportunity as your son.

Image credit - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4292382/Defiant-girl-statue-placed-Wall-Street-s-Bull.html10

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9 Comments

  • Reply Emy Clarke

    I am with you 100%. I am also very shocked by the lack of extra mural activities at Ava’s school. Jae goes to a sister school (I don’t want to name the actual school, but same as Ava’s just different area) and hers seems to offer alot more, Summer sports that Jae does are Swimming and Tennis and winter is Netball and Hockey. While she has never shown any interest in the other sports I would also fight for her to get a chance to do what she wants to do. I do understand that some schools don’t have the support (financial or otherwise) to allow everyone to do everything, but when you send your child to a school which costs an arm a leg and a part of your soul I expect them to make a plan and hire some more coaches, or in the very least find out if any parents would be able to help coach the team.

    GO NINJA SHARON!

    Rant over…..

    March 10, 2017 at 8:57 am
  • Reply Helie

    What an inspiring post. I totally agree. We are very blessed that in the school that my daughter goes to the girls are allowed to play soccer and cricket. In actual fact from Grade 1-3 they don’t get a choice. ALL the kids play cricket, soccer, hockey and do athletics. From SP they can choose their sport.

    March 10, 2017 at 8:57 am
  • Reply belindamountain

    Yes yes yes! I was chatting to another mom the other day about how her son loved his ballet/dance lessons, and he’s committed to them for 3 years. Why should he not be able to dance because he’s a boy?! You go Sharon – keep us posted.

    March 10, 2017 at 9:14 am
  • Reply Caroline

    I am so with you on this!! My 4yo girl is the only 4yo girl doing little kickers, but its an extra cost activity… lets see what happens when she gets to prep, I hope they have a good mindset otherwise I am likely to have the same fight!

    At least there is one boy doing ballet at my kids prep school (in a higher grade). One of the teachers told me that they did a display for the rest of the school and afterwards they asked one of the buff rugby players to come up on stage and lift a female ballet dancer into the air the same way that the boy ballet dancer had… and he couldn’t!! couldn’t get her off the floor, let alone in the air… it was a good eye opener for all the kids watching, that boy ballet dancers are not “sissies” or weak!! So if my boy wants to do ballet he will be more than welcome.

    March 10, 2017 at 9:37 am
  • Reply Sula

    I’m very interested to hear if you win this fight and I really hope that you do. 2 weeks ago Fjord joined cubs, the following week Acacia wanted to go to but I thought that she would have to go to brownies. I’m so happy to say that we discovered that cubs is now open to girls.

    March 10, 2017 at 10:33 am
  • Reply Lise

    I am so behind you on this. I feel so cross that it is even a question. Also, kids of this age should be playing in mixed teams, so the idea of starting a girls team grates me too. Sports is about having fun, about camaraderie, about being a team.

    Happily I can say that my son’s cricket team has one girl and apparently she is playing rugby next term. It is completely natural to them all, as it should be.

    This whole thing we have in South Africa with Bafana, the Boks, the Proteas being huge brands (male sports) and the women’s teams who no one watches and who get no sponsorship, all starts in junior school because of this mentality.

    March 10, 2017 at 10:51 am
  • Reply Zwi

    I should probably calm down before I comment!!! Such nonsense…your girl MUST play soccer if she wants to, and her being a girl must not even be a factor in this….urrrggghhh!!!!!

    March 10, 2017 at 10:52 am
  • Reply Charne

    I roll my eyes almost everyday at the ridiculous things people want to “fight” with their childrens teachers or school principals about. But THIS, THIS is a fight worth fighting! I was very pleased to see our school boasting on social media platforms about their star cricket player being the only female player in the zone.

    March 10, 2017 at 1:14 pm
  • Reply Terri Pearman

    I am fortunate enough to have my children at a school where anyone can play any sport. We have mixed soccer teams and boys who play netball. Our cricket team is mixed. Its quite normal. However the comments we get when we play against other teams is frightening. “You have girls on your team?” We need to let children be children and play whatever sport they want. I understand that ata certain age boys are physically bigger and then it becomes a safety issue and we should split the teams in contact sports. Until then though let them play!

    March 10, 2017 at 9:12 pm
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