I am a feminist – a liberal feminist but nonetheless a feminist. Yet I am raising three very stereotypical children. I wonder how it has happened, I planned to raise my children free from gender stereotypes – they can play what they want, dress how they choose. I want empowered daughters, girls who realise there is a real value to Education, to qualifications. Daughters who want to take on the world. As a sociology teacher I spend huge amounts of time discussing, analysing and teaching about identity and inequality. I have great conversations with my teen and like me she is fair, she wants equality, she understands that society isn’t fair and that some groups are marginalised and disadvantaged. She gets all that. We have talked about there still being an 18% pay gap between the genders. That equality hasn’t yet happened. She gets all that.
Yet ask her what she wants to ‘be’ and it is a model. She see’s a celebrity culture and she wants in. She witnesses those that have landed fame and fortune through reality TV shows and she imagines that she is next. I have been given some amazing opportunities through blogging and as such Chloe has been taken on the journey with me. Chloe has been on photo-shoots and seen behind the scenes, this looks glamorous and exciting to her. She wants in. She imagines what a celebrity lifestyle will bring. The media is such an influence to our children and I worry this is eroding childhood yet I don’t know how to stop it.
I have been impressing on her the importance of having a career, of having skills, as modelling wouldn’t last forever. She is very creative and excels in a creative environment, she dances, she draws and she has an eye for detail. Yet she has pleaded with to me to apply to modelling agencies for her. I have done so as I will support my daughters choices, she has modelled a few times now and loves it, she wishes we were London based so there were more opportunities . I think I would always support my children in their choices but whilst a part of me understands and thinks modelling is a phase all teen girls go through I am also torn. I want my daughter to understand that looks aren’t everything and hard work is far more important that appearance. I am after all a bit of a feminist.
Then I watch Dylan playing football in the garden and see Erin dressed as princess playing babies and I wonder how I can raise unstereotypical children. They have a wide range of toys yet the gender socialisation has kicked in.
Anyone else come up against this yet?