Yesterday at Alpha Mummy, Carol Midgley posted a list of 10 ways to teach kids [specifically, daughters] about sexism. Sounds great, until you realize that about half the list involves sexism. With bonus heterosexism.
To be fair, let's start with the stuff I can completely agree with. #2: Teach them about the difference between fixed-up, professionally photographed and Photoshopped models and what people actually look like without a team of professionals enhancing them. #3: Have them compare ladymags to ladmags, and note that "while female magazines focus heavily on man-pleasing, lads' mags do not focus on woman-pleasing. At all. They focus on man-pleasing. A lot." #6: Teach them to watch Disney princess films with a critical eye. "Cinderella hoping the Prince will fancy her - what if she finds him a boring arse? And why are all middle aged women cast as bitter, expendable trouts? Explain that television works in a similar way." And finally, #9: Never EVER say 'I think you'd should wear the blue one because your backside looks smaller.'"
Excellent advice, all of it. Now for the rest.
#1: "Make a small bonfire of Bratz dolls. As their creepy baby doll- faces, colleague lips, wisp-thin waists and fishnet tights begin to melt into a toxic blob, encourage your daughters and her friends to clap and chant "Burn the freaks!""
Ho ho! Violence against girls in effigy! What an awesome way to teach respect for women. (Also, what are "colleague lips"?)
#5: "Explain to them that though many young women idolise Victoria Beckham and want to be as thin as her no man in the known world finds her attractive. Given the option, they'd rather spend an evening with her husband."
Because men's opinion of your appearance is the whole point, right? (Also, Victoria Beckham is ugly! Neener!) It's not that men's opinions shouldn't define your self-worth, it's that you're misreading those opinions. Every girl wants to have boys like her, duh. See also #8: "When your teenage daughter is getting ready for a date... give her a quick summary of what her teenage 'paramour's' preparations are likely to be for the evening: the same clothes he's had on all day and, if she's really special to him, a wash of his hands after he's been for a wee."
If your teenage daughter dates girls, Carol Midgley's got nuthin'. All girls like boys. All girls want boys to like them. These are universal truths, so what would be the point in challenging them, just because you're trying to teach her about sexism?
#10: "If she ever talks about wanting cosmetic surgery, simply leave a large photo of Jocelyn Wildenstein on the table and withdraw backwards from the room."
Oh, ha! It's funny because she's disfigured! Once again, the best way to teach girls about body image and sexism is to tell them that succumbing to the pressure might just make them ugly. And if they're ugly, boys won't like them.
Carol Midgley is funny, yes. But it would be nice if her advice about teaching girls how to recognize sexism didn't involve criticizing other women's appearances, ignoring the existence of lesbians, and reinforcing the idea that male approval is what we're all after. (Not to mention chanting "Burn the freak!") Call me a humorless feminist, but some jokes are just not worth it.
Carol Midgley: 10 Ways To Teach Kids About Sexism [Alpha Mummy]