God Loves Women

A blog sharing my love of God, the love He has for women and my frustration that the Church often doesn't realise this

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My kids, the "Battle of the Sexes" and me

Posted by God Loves Women on April 22, 2012 at 4:55 PM

My children go to a local Church of England primary school who have embarked on the noble quest of pushing more parents to read with their children.  So far this quest has taken the form of a reading raffle every Friday, in which children who have had the reading record signed by an adult five days out of the week will be entered into a raffle in which they can win a lovely book.

 

I have quite a lot of problems with this reading raffle business, I feel it misses the point, parents not reading with their children has a deeper root than just a lack of a good reward for their child, but I haven’t felt it is the right battle to fight.  Until last Friday.

 

“Last Friday?” You ask, “What happened last Friday?”

 

Well, I shall tell you.  Last Friday my children arrived home with a letter from the teacher responsible for reading which said the following (and I quote):

 

“A big well done to all those children who were entered in the reading raffle this week.  The children had to read 10 times over the holidays [yes, you read right, over the *flipping* holidays, no rest for the wicked, or at least small children, I say…] and have their planners or reading records signed for each time [their emphasis, not mine].  I was very disappointed however that the numbers of children entering the raffle weren’t higher.  Only 34% of girls and 35% of boys were entered in the raffle this week, meaning that 2 in every 3 children seem to no be reading enough at home.  To try and raise this we have started a “Battle of the Sexes! [Yes, you did read that right…]  The gender with the higher percentage will receive 5 minutes extra play every week.  This week the boys won.  Well done boys!” [Yes, you also read correctly that they have already started this scheme].

 

I am utterly furious!  Who do they think they are?!  Regardless of my issues with the reading raffle and my disappointment at them rewarding children if their parents read with them, that is nothing in comparison to my shock at the decision to penalise 34% of female children even though their parents did sign their book, purely because of their gender.  While 65% of male children got extra playtime, even though their parents did *not* write in their books, purely because of their gender.

 

I work very hard to ensure that my children do not feel their gender is in anyway a barrier to them.  Both my 6 and 9 year old know that the broadly speaking the only differences between men and women is that women have babies and men wee standing up.  To polarise my children so thoroughly in this way, purely because of their gender is totally unjust.

 

As someone who works very hard on domestic violence prevention, this could not be further from the actions required of a school in promoting positive relationships.  When looking at how we promote positive relationships for younger children, it is about challenging gender stereotypes, not reinforcing that it’s boys versus girls.  For every boy in that school who was allowed extra playtime, what the school has said is, your gender allows you privilege, and for any of those boys who live in homes with an abusive man, the school has just reinforced *every* view of women that man is telling that boy.

 

Since Friday, I have been learning about what I can do about this situation.  Firstly I rang up the school to speak with the teacher who has sent the letter out, she wasn’t available immediately.  I rang up the County Council’s equality and diversity department to get more information from them (they are going to ring me back).  I also looked up the Equality Act 2010, which tells me that gender is a “protected characteristic” meaning that the schools actions are a form of inequality and also that potentially, from what the act says, this could be considered indirect discrimination.

 

Some may say I am overreacting, investigating things this thoroughly, but I do not want to be accused of being a “politically correct zealot” and so I thought I should get my facts straight.  

 

Tomorrow I am going to the school to request a meeting, and I am going to explain how this “Battle of the Sexes” must not be allowed to continue and ask that an explanation be sent to every parent of the “un-thought through nature” of the scheme, before next Friday (when the next raffle and gender war is to take place).  I know the school may not be particularly amenable to this suggestion, but my next stage will involve the Governors, the Vicar, other parents and perhaps even the press if necessary, so I shall keep you updated!

 

P.S. Since first writing this blog, I have discovered that the boys extra playtime will be awarded on Thursday and hasn't already taken place.  I am requesting the school change the scheme before this is due to take place.

 

 


Categories: Gender, Education

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3 Comments

Reply Ms
4:44 PM on April 26, 2012 
I hate 'battle of the sexes' contests. However, I couldn't disagree more with "For every boy in that school who was allowed extra playtime, what the school has said is, your gender allows you privilege," Firstly the boys as a group won the contest, they are not being given extra playtime purely for their gender. Secondly, next time the girls might win, therefore those boys who actually do the reading will miss out on extra playtime and those girls who do not do the reading will get this privilege! I do agree that the contest is unfair because some children work hard and miss out whilst others do no work but get the privilege. However, this would still be the case if the school decided to randomly put the children in two, mixed gender, groups. I'm sure the children are intelligent enough to know that the boys are not getting privelege due to their gender, rather due to an unfair rule in the contest.

"and for any of those boys who live in homes with an abusive man, the school has just reinforced *every* view of women that man is telling that boy." Excuse me? I think the children realise that this is a reading contest. Sure they have made a battle of the sexes out of it which I detest. However, in this case, the boys know that their group won by just one percent. Next time the girls might win, just by one percent, or more. This is hardly saying that women are to be abused! Boys who live with an abusive man most probably think that the man is cruel and horrible to the woman. They might be scared of the man because he might be abusive to them too! We don't know what *every* view that man has of women and what he is telling the boy, or rather what the boy is picking up from him. The boy might be thinking that this man is nasty and the woman is lovely and it's just horrible how the man treats the woman!

What if the girls had won? What if there are boys and girls who live with an abusie woman? A woman who is violent towards her husband - yes this situation exists but gets little publicity. What if some kids live with a woman who verbally abuses her husband? What if the woman of the house is a misandrist or a sexist who thinks that women are superior and makes her feelings clear. What if the kids are being raised ina house where they are being given the message that women are better than men/superior humans/more moral humans?
Reply God Loves Women
4:09 AM on April 27, 2012 
Hi Ms,

Thanks for your comments. It would be unfair if the children had been put into other types of groups, however, gender is a legally protected characteristic, just as race and disability are. Any group which is seperated by a protected characteristic, must be very sure the "ends justify the means".

Unfortunately the reality is that 50% of abusive men have had abuse modelled to them as a child, the reality is that boys who their father abuse their mother may model that behaviour in future relationships and to prevent abuse, we must be modelling healthy gender dynamics.

In regard to you thoughts on female violene against men, I must disagree with you. Domestic abuse is a gendered crime. Yes women abuse men, but there it is very unlikely this abuse will take the form of coercive control. I would point you in the direction of these two links on this issue:

http://notunderbondage.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/lundy-bancroft-says
-right-outlook-is.html
http://www.biscmi.org/wshh/biscmiellenpence2010.html

Thanks for your thoughts!

Mrs GLW
Reply Ms
12:07 PM on April 27, 2012 
Hi Mrs GLW

Thank you for your reply. The first link you gave me said 'the page you were looking for does not exist' The second link is for a video. Unfortunately I can not watch this as I have limited broadband and will run over if I watch videos :-( I read the 'about me' page of the first link and I notice that the woman in question has married a man who also suffered domestic abuse.

As for this contest, had the girls 'won' and received extra playtime, what message would this send out to girls who live with a woman who verbally/psychologically/physically abuses her husband or thinks that women are superior to men and makes it clearly known by constantly putting men down and making anti-male remarks? You see, my point is that a contest like this (where the boys happened to 'win' this time) can have a reinforcing effect in a home where there is no domestic violence and it goes BOTH ways.