I was having lunch with an old friend the other day, and that’s old in every sense of the word, since we are both in our mid-70s. My friend has been an ardent feminist since back in the day when great strides were being made in equal opportunities and rights. And now, she was decrying how much of that ground has been surrendered, with our granddaughters being brought up in a pink and sparkly world of princesses for whom the be-all and end-all is spiralling backwards towards fulfilment being seen as a prince in shining armour approaching over the horizon (Bachelor and Bachelorette, anyone?).
And it’s clear that she’s not alone there, as – maybe not so coincidentally – right now I’ve come across two items that tackle very similar issues, from a young girl’s perspective. They raise questions that any grandparent might like to explore with their granddaughter, or grandson.
Let’s talk #1: Gender stereotypes
The first item appeared in the Australian Huffington Post on 5th October, and highlights the gender stereotypes captured in clothes for children, as pointed out by one discerning eight-year-old shopper in the UK. Daisy Edmonds does gymnastics, martial arts and theatre. And, according to the Huffington Post, “she’s also a spokesperson for gender equality. Her mom recently recorded Daisy’s reaction to a display of girls and boys T-shirts they spotted during a trip to Tesco.
“With phrases like ‘hey,’ ‘beautiful,’ and ‘I feel fabulous,’ the girls T-shirts contrasted dramatically with those offered for boys, which were emblazoned with words like ‘hero,’ ‘desert adventure awaits,’ and ‘think outside the box.’”
And what Daisy says in the video is that “It’s unfair because everyone thinks that girls should just be pretty, and boys should just be adventurous… Why should boys and girls clothes even be separated? Because we’re just as good as each other.”
She goes on to explain that while thinking outside the box inspires people to be adventurous and follow their dreams, a shirt that says “hey!” isn’t very inspiring at all.
“What is that even supposed to mean?” she asks, and then she plants some of the boys’ T-shirts in the girls’ section.
All of this and more can be read and watched through the following link to the whole feature…
And while Daisy’s attitude is heartening, we do need to be taking a good hard look at why she’s being confronted with such stereotypes in 2016. Weren’t we supposed to be way better than that by now, in how we are bringing up girls and boys?
Let’s talk #2: Boys and girls grow up: unequal pay
The second item tackles the festering issue of what is still happening in far too many sectors when those boys and girls grow up: unequal pay. And here, despite the big four banks deservedly having their knuckles rapped for some of their uncliently activities, the ANZ Bank has earned a gold star from me, for its advertisement which is currently playing at a cinema near you, and which can also be viewed on this link:
It is a delightfully clever vignette of pairs of children. Each pair has a boy and a girl working together and doing exactly the same job. After they’ve finished, they each get paid for their work, and in each pair the boy gets more money than the girl. When the girls complain, very articulately, they are told that “that is just the way it is.” Even the boys can see that that’s unfair, and there is some very healthy questioning of this issue, and resolution to change things when they grow up. And that is the full ad, with just the ANZ’s logo on it, as the bank had commissioned it in support of International Women’s Day.
So, here we have two very watchable vehicles for discussion between grandmothers and grandchildren as the latter set off on their pathways towards adulthood – one where, one would hope, the more things change for the better, the more they will no longer revert to the past.