Posted by Monica Baker
trigger warnings, sexual assault talk, bullying talk and other things that may trigger a person. This is also the rumination of a mother who has personally faced most of the topics in this blog post.
I am the mother of an eleven year old daughter. I am also the mother of a seven year old son. I fear more for her starting a new school, than I do him. That is why we need feminism.
Why? You may ask. Well let’s start off with the simple premise that middle school is hell for the average child. My daughter has Asperger’s syndrome. Kids with autism are bullied far more frequently than their neurotypical peers. She has this innocence about her that her peers are half decent people with the maturity to ignore her if they don’t care for her. The school she attends now, helps foster that kind of environment.
You are probably wondering why bullying links to feminism. Well, considering my daughter, regardless of her neurobiological status, is more at risk being bullied than my son in the chance we have to move (we are military, it is always a possibility) by virtue of her gender, it goes hand in hand.
Girls will bully her because she will be viewed as “competiton” for the boys in the school. She will be new and different. Causing the competition enoug distress that they remove themselves from the gene pool gives these mean girls an advantage genetically. They live to pass their genes on, while the unfortunate target of their unrelenting psychological abuse has taken their own life. This is my armchair anthropology talking by the way, as well as personal experience as a person who went through merciless bullying as a teenager. The girls were always the worst. They got even meaner when I miraculously managed to get a boyfriend. Notice how slut shaming usually starts with girls ripping apart other girls? These girls have been taught that they are valueless without a man, and all other girls are competition for the high status male they desire to get somewhere in life. How messed up is that? That a woman’s status is only as good as that of the man she winds up with. Feminism is needed to change that line of thinking. I’m working on it with my daughter right now actually. With that line of thinking comes another threat to my daughter, the guys.
My daughter wants to get into programming. Robotics, computer programming, those kinds of fields. Those are traditionally male dominated fields. In high school, she will need to bust her ass, despite all the other obstacles thrown at her, to keep her grades high enough for a university to even look at her. (In Canada university admission is a highly competitive and costly thing so scholarships are a must.) This means some of the male peers will feel threatened by her. The fact she will be taking their opportunities away by virtue of her sex, will enrage them. So the bullying will come from them in an attempt to break her down and make her give up. Eventually the males will figure out the power of their penis, as always and the threat of rape will be omnipresent for her, as all other women out there from there on out.
If she manages to get through the gauntlet of high school and university with her head held high and a proverbial rod of iron in her spine, she will then have to fight for a job, and to keep it. As a woman, she will make 77c for each dollar her male colleagues make. She will have to work twice as hard to be respected in her workplace. She will have men trying to take credit for her work, and will need to be “the bitch” in order to keep it from happening. Heh. Bitch, another word to describe a woman who claims her equality next to men. Funny eh? Let’s go out on a limb, and pretend my daughter chooses to reproduce one day. In Canada, we are guaranteed one year paid maternity leave at %60 of our salary. Cool beans, eh? Not so fast. Just because an employer can’t legally terminate a person for their choice to procreate, doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur for other reasons.
If my daughter chooses to procreate, when she comes back, there is a big chance that her employer will make it insanely difficult on her to perform her job, and balance family obligations as well. Men rarely have to deal with that. Eventually her job performance will suffer, and the employer will hand her her pink slip, record of employment and final cheque and tell her they are sorry to see her go, and it was unfortunate she was unable to balance life properly, with vague hints that it will be for the best that she be home with her own children. Game over. In a field such as programming, one needs to keep ones skills current and sharp, usually by working, and potential employers see huge gaps in resumes as a very negative thing.
So, what sparked this? Well, being military moving is always on the horizon. We have been in this area for five years now, give or take. Her current school has helped her so much, academically and socially with her aspergers. She has grown from a young child who would have two to three hour meltdowns per day, refuse to eat, and unable to communicate what was going on in her head, to a well rounded independent young lady. My heart would be crushed if that got reversed in any way. A move now would be a very rough go with months of recovery, as well as the bully gauntlet of a new school. Right now, she’s thriving. That’s all I want for her.
After reading all that, you are probably thinking, wtf does this have to do with feminism? Well, as I stated earlier, I have a son. Yes, I know boys are bullied as much as girls, but not for the same underlying reasons. Sure he might be bullied for being smaller than his peers, even if all that happens, he is still a white male and has all the societal privilege as afforded a white cis male. Because of this inherent privilege, I fear less for his outcome than I do my daughter’s in this society. THAT is why we need feminism.
Bullying absolutely crushed me. I had hopes and dreams, but they were put aside so I could just survive my day to day life. The bullying began for me when I moved schools when I started grade nine and never let up until I graduated. I did all I could to stay off the radar. That included keeping my grades low so the teachers wouldn’t call on me for anything. I moved from a safe school to an unsafe one. I foresee the same damn thing happening to my daughter.