By Sholain Govender-Bateman – Pretoria-based New Media journalism lecturer, former The Star and Pretoria News journalist & editor of magazines. She is mum to two gorgeous girls, Isobel and Aishwari, and wife to Barry Bateman. Twitter @sholain
There is something fundamentally wrong with a school giving their female students a civvies day treat for Women’s Day but then saying “the dress-code is smart-casual, but of course, dresses are preferred…”.
Women’s Day is meant to be a celebration of equality and a reminder of the ongoing fight for gender equality and freedom of choice for women of all races, religions, ages, classes and sexual orientation.
However, there are so many people and institutions who are still limiting this choice and perpetuating feminine stereotypes in little, innocent children who will grow up feeling like they have to fit those stereotypes.
I have two amazingly clever and independent little girls. They speak their minds and they are boisterous. Very boisterous. They play with dollies and snuggle with cute little stuffed toys at bedtime. They have princess dresses and wear fairy wings. The little one liberates my lipsticks and eyeshadows regularly and much to my disgust, they both adore that anorexic-looking, self-esteem destroying doll – unless you have blonde hair, blue eyes and a disproportionate body – aka Barbie.
They like pink, and they also have days when they adore purple and blue and black and red and green or “gween” as my little one says.
And they also have tons of cars and diggers and watch engineering shows. They play with mud and they tear and stain their clothes whilst climbing jungle gyms and sometimes trees. My girls help ‘chop’ braai wood. They bring creepy-crawlies of all shapes and sizes(dead and alive!) into the house.
I know a lot of parents who raise their children to be themselves but recently someone told me that my girls are different from other girls – because they are a handful and rambunctious and are human whirlwinds wherever they go. The truth is that there are a lot of parents who still raise their girl-children to be gentle and push princess-hood upon them. And they force their boy-child to put down his sister’s baby dolly when all he wants is to give the dolly a cuddle and they tell him to go play cops and robbers instead.
Which parent are you? And what’s the problem with actually giving our children a chance to just be themselves?
P.S. My child wants to wear a dress for civvies day, and you know what, she can wear whatever she wants to!