Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What Year Is It, Anyway?

Ok, it has been a while since I've been here. I'd love to say it's because I have been so busy (I have) or that it's because my kids and my job and my husband and my home need me more than you do (They do).  Sadly, though, it's just because I haven't been FIRED UP enough about anything to write.  Well guess what?  I'M PISSED!

I am doing a unit at school on gender portrayals in the media.  As an opening activity, I surveyed my students on two questions: "What are jobs that women should do?" and "What are jobs that women should not do?"  18 students took the task, 11 boys and 7 girls, aged 12-19.  The results made me weak.

I expected there to be some gender bias answers...because although we live in 2012, there are some stereotypes that prevail.  What I didn't expect was the OVERWHELMING "keep her in her place" responses that I got.  I had to ask myself, "What year is it, anyway?"

Here is the list of jobs my students said women should NEVER do:
*science teacher
*math teacher
*gym teacher
*truck driver
*factory worker
*lawn care
*police officer
*pro athlete
*cab driver
*business owner

Here is the list of jobs women SHOULD do.  Some answers were only offered once, some many times, and a couple EVERY single child offered.

* retail clerk
*home ec teacher
*day care provider/babysitter
*grade school teacher
*English teacher
*art teacher
*teeth cleaner (hygienist)
*flight attendant
*hair dresser
*nail tech
*fashion designer
*school counselor

Only one student said women should be pediatricians.  EVERY student said they should be strippers.  All 18 of them.

I feel sick to my stomach.  I can't imagine how it is 2012 and these are the attitudes this group of young men and women have toward gender roles.  I'd be interested to see how this list would look in another town...with another set of kids.  Is it the same? I'm not even sure my daughter knows that being a stripper is a job option for her (IT ISN'T!) or that someone out there thinks she should not consider going to medical school because she is a female.  And I guarantee you that my boys don't think it's acceptable for their sister to be a hooker.

So what now? How do you begin to change these attitudes in kids who have been raised to believe this?  If anyone has any suggestions, I'm listening.

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