Today, I happened to view this video on Facebook. What an awesome little girl, right?
It was posted onto my News Feed by one of the many small campaigning groups I belong to on Facebook. All of these groups aim to counter the overtly sexualised, gender-biased, saccharine-sweet world in which the media and advertising agencies in particular want to imprison our girl children (and, by extension, our boys too).
They want to counter such things, so that our little girls grow up knowing that they are strong, competent and able to do anything they put their minds to, regardless of their gender. And more power to these groups for trying to make that happen.
However, I have a problem with videos like the one above. They teach our girls that in order to be strong and independent women, they need to know how to physically fight. And, increasingly over the last decade, the media and entertainment industries are backing up that message.
Until a few months ago, I was all for this. I loved watching series like “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and films like the “Girl” series based on Steig Larsson’s famous “Millenium” trilogy. I loved to see women “kicking ass” – standing up to their oppressors and enemies both mentally and physically.
Then I got involved with the Peace Pledge Union around Remembrance Day here in the UK. On 11th November each year, we remember those who have fallen in war and given their lives for their country. I wanted to wear both a red poppy (sold here by The Royal British Legion and representing the poppies that grew on Flanders field after the fighting there stirred up old seeds) and a white one (sold by the PPU and representing the desire for an end to all war). I was so inspired by what I read on their website, and so dismayed by the overt militarisation of the remembrance ceremonies, that I decided to join them.
Then a strange thing happened. I became acutely aware of all the violence I was seeing on my computer, television and cinema screen every day. Once I started looking, I saw it everywhere. What made me even more worried was seeing how much of it is either directed at women, or meted out by women. It seems we have two roles – submissive victim or violent aggressor. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be either of those things, and I don’t want my 7 year old granddaughter to feel she has to be either.
I think we need to be teaching all our children, not just girls, that there are better ways to deal with problems in life than to lash out with your fists. We need to teach them that conflicts can often be resolved diplomatically, by talking the problem through and finding a solution. We need them to know that our governments’ knee-jerk declarations of war are not always the best solution.
I admire the little girl in the video for her discipline and the hard work she has obviously put in to learning how to do something which is largely regarded as a boy’s sport. However, I feel sad that we consider such violent sports to be the best way for our children to learn to channel their anger and and have self-discipline.