Recently I sat with my 13 year old and few of her friends chatting about their teachers. An incident came up where these girls complained about a male teacher. They mentioned that he would give priority to the boys when the class played soccer or flag football. These young women are aware of the “absence of preference”. They are aware that sexism plays in different ways- one of which is language. I asked the reason to them being silent and not complaining or pointing out to the teacher his thoughtless behaviour. Their response? Why bother, they said, nothing will change.
Yet these young women register the subtle ways that boys are preferred and prioritized. I find it rather funny in these days of the Million Women March and International Women’s Day that teachers are still not aware of the subtleties of their behaviour. How is it that teachers don’t receive any sensitivity training in the use of their language or attitude? Words and behaviour have effect. These young women register the repeated preference of boys and can choose to do two things- to let this treatment define them and make them accept that they are not strong enough, or talented enough to play the game OR they can register this treatment and use it as fuel for their fight to conquer and take their frustration to leaning in and accomplishing their goals.
As Maya Angelou said;
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”
It is this constant defiance of expectations that I use as inspiration in the painting featured today. “Undeniable” is a piece that uses the icon of Wonder Woman and a strident young woman who walks with confidence and strength. Along the bottom are the men with flowers, appraising her with admiration. A view that women all should have today.