Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Everyday sexism and royal protocols

I have always tried to avoid sexist stereotypes or sexist language with my children. For example, I always use the expression 'human-made' rather than the term I was brought up with, 'man-made'. If someone in the house says, 'a man will be coming round to fix the boiler', I will always point out that we don't know whether it will be a man or a woman. My wife is now the main breadwinner in our family. Yet somehow sexist stereotyping still gets through, even with very young children. Recently I was having a conversation with my youngest children, who were then 9 and 10, about the royal family. I mentioned the fact that while the wife of a King is referred to as a Queen, the husband of a Queen who is the head of State (such as our own Queen, Elizabeth II) is not referred to as a King. I said I didn't know why this was the case and, without missing a heartbeat, my 10 year old daughter said, "It's because if they called the Queen's husband a King, it would make him seem more important than her." I was quite taken aback, as I realised she had somehow, at the age of 10, while attending a school where the vast majority of teachers were female, managed to imbibe the idea that a male is considered more important by our society than a female who does the exact same job.

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