- Angela Costigan
Fiercely Female (human).
I recently finished reading 'Cloudstreet' by Tim Winton. I've read it before, but found it again a few weeks back, sitting quietly between Margaret Atwood and the Lonely Planet bible, every twenty-something Australian had in the early 2000s.
Pick me! Pick me!
And as these things always work out, on the very night I finished his book, there was the man himself on my TV, being interviewed on Channel 7 by Andrew Denton.
I got this image off ww.mediaweek.com.au - I don't know who took it or who owns the rights -
I'm sure they're lovely though and won't sue me for using it.
Tim Winton was speaking, not about writing or accolades, but about something I am very passionate about. And it got me thinking and so here I am.
Friends, I want to tell you about a kid I know.
A little girl who goes to ballet class. A lot. A girl who LOVES footy and soccer and transformers and drawing and reading and writing and visiting art galleries and libraries and riding her bike and digging holes in the backyard.
A girl that can trade footy cards with a cunning that is reminiscent of gangland poker games.
Some would argue these cards hold more value than others..
A girl that cries when her sister double bounces her on the trampoline and a girl that thinks her dog is smelly and her cat is quite possibly the devil incarnate.
Plotting our demise or sleeping soundly? It's a fine line.
The other week, this girl told ME a story. An older boy had come up to her at school, while she was kicking a ball around with a group of kids (boys) and he told her 'girls can't play soccer.'
When she recounted this story to me, I honestly felt like someone had found a switch somewhere, just left of my centre, and flicked it, causing my blood to boil...'What did you say to him?' I asked.
'Oh, I just looked at him and walked off.'
'So you stopped playing?'
'You know, that kid is an actual idiot.'
'MUM! You can't call someone an idiot!'
'Not in the classroom, no. Not when they are trying hard to be their best, no. BUT if someone is dumb enough to say something like that, then yes my girl, you CAN call them an idiot.'
Safe to say that ten minutes of watching the Matildas play soccer on YouTube, reaffirmed to this beautiful child that the kid on the playground was indeed an idiot.
You see, I'll have none of that talk.
I love the Matildas. I love this image. I love the person who took this image and who owns the rights to it.
I'm sure they are the nice and understanding and non-suing type.
It runs so deep, friends. So.very.deep.
You know that kid wasn't actually talking about 'soccer' yeah? He thinks he was. My daughter thinks he was. But you and I know he wasn't.
A simple statement from, what I am sure is an otherwise, harmless child, stems from a society and a culture that still, in 2018, subconsciously believes that girls are inferior to boys. And we all know where that leads. Nowhere good.
Call it out sistas. And brothers. Every single time you can.
And know this - if you come at my girls at tell them they can't do something or be something or love someone or be whoever it is they want to be, I am training them to shake their head at you and tell you that you are an idiot.
Especially if you are a boy or a man.
It's time to throw those scales way off wack. I don't have time for middle ground. I don't have time for society to catch up. My girls are getting bigger and the world is getting smaller to them everyday. A world, that since the inception of man and woman, has operated on the basis that women are inferior to men.
And I'll have none of it. I want a level playing field. A level soccer field.
These digs are big enough for the both of us, dino.
In my house, we are completely gender neutral. Yes, we have a lot of pink - so what? We have more transformers than I can count - big deal. And we have posters of space and barbie dolls and art things and footballs and guitars and blah blah blah. Not once, have we ever said 'that's for boys, that's only for girls.'
Or even - and this is the clincher - 'Wow, you like that, awesome, normally only boys like/do/read that.' It's THOSE statements we need to watch for.
Statements where we think we're being positive and supportive but we are actually planting a seed of doubt that didn't even exist.
Here's another example of a well meaning comment said to kids about another topic prevalent at the moment - 'It's wonderful gay people can get married now'.
Why can't we just raise our kids where this isn't even an issue. It doesn't need to be a thing that is 'wonderful' or 'not' - it just is.
'I eat bread, I drink water, I read books, play soccer, do ballet and if I fall in love, one day I might choose to get married.' That's the kind of world I want my kids growing up in. Sure, in time, it's important for them to learn how far as a society we've come, but when they are young, let's just raise them with a total clean slate of possibility.
Where kids can be kids and where adults are conscious of not imposing their own prejudices and out-dated beliefs and mindlessness on the next, tender generation.
Live and let live, people.
And parents of boys - love them and hug them and let them cry and let them talk and listen to them and set boundaries for them and let them be whatever wonderful human they are capable of being.
And if you hear them picking up on any subtle negative connotations towards women and girls - call them out on it. Or you know my girls will.
*You can watch Tim Winton's interview and hear his take on the above topic, from a male's perspective - by cutting and pasting this link into your browser - https://7plus.com.au/interview