Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What's Gender got to do with it?

(singing the title of this post to a Tina Turner tune...)

Just a short little comment about some of the inherent sexism there is around raising children that I've noticed in the UK. It's all about Mummy. Some many groups for young children and adults to go to are called "Mums and Toddlers" or a variation of that, but not varying on the Mum or Mother bit. Yes, I would agree that mothers are still probably the majority of adults taking children to school, playgroups and classes, but it bugs me. If I was a dad, it would really bug me. There's currently an ad on TV for a margarine where the TV celebrity chef (who by the way, must have sold his soul to advertise for a margarine) tells us how "Mums can collect the tokens" to help with purchasing cooking equipment for schools. Why? Why just Mums? Are Dads considered too incompetent and scatter-brained to be able to collect margarine tokens? Are female parental units the only ones watching that TV ad? I think it's nuts that it gets away with that.

I've currently taken on a leadership position in a group that defines itself using the word Mum in the title. As it most definitely isn't just for mothers, high on my to-do list is to slowly bring about a change in the name. I will still be leaving out a great number of adult carers by changing the Mum to Parent, but at least I will feel we are on the way.

Some may think I'm being petty or silly, but words are powerful things. By naming something with the gender-specific title like "Moms and Tots" or "Dads and Lads", you passively ostracize half of the population, even if that wasn't your intention and even both parents are welcome. I think by using a more inclusive term, people are more likely to feel included. That certainly is my hope at least.


Richard James said...

You're absolutely right! How on earth are we dads supposed to feel welcomed into a group that denies we even exist? What's wrong with the phrase 'parent and toddler group'?

ZeeBride said...

You were one of the many dads I was thinking about when I wrote this post Richard.

susan_rn92 said...

Good for you, Andrea! I may not have children, but I am in total agreement with your stance. My grandparents were farmers, and it was my grandmother who was out in the field the majority of the time and my grandfather who cared for the household and did the cooking. Not an easy task when there is a family of twelve. We should support those that have a talent and skill for childcare, no matter the gender. Who knows, maybe it could lead to a more balanced world.