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language equity

Karen Allendoerfer ravena at cco.caltech.edu
Sun Dec 1 02:19:12 EST 1996

In article <57lfde$f5p at gazette.bcm.tmc.edu>, Sarah L. Pallas
<spallas at bcm.tmc.edu> wrote:

> This has been a problem for us too, children's literature and even
> clothing are very gender-biased.  My 3 yr old son has already decided
> it's better to be a boy, that women can't play football (well, they
> DON'T, so maybe he's right?) or be farmers, or even doctors (despite the
> fact that his pediatrician is a woman).  We counter this strenuously- he
> doesn't watch network TV, we try to address cartoon characters by both
> gender-specirfic pronouns, when we see an animal outside, we call it
> 'she' unless we can tell otherwise, we refer to firefighters and police
> officers, not firemen and policemen, we constantly point out women in
> male-dominated careers, but it seems it's all to no avail. 

I've heard of this happening to other kids, too--even girls will say
"girls can't be doctors".  It sounds very distressing, and I can imagine
how frustrating it is.  But I've also seen kids grow out of this kind of
stuff. My brother and I are both good cases in point; we both went through
phases of beliefs and attitudes in childhood and adolescence that we have
a hard time recognizing now.  I would bet that the lessons your son is
learning now will eventually bear fruit, but that it requires patience and
forbearance--after all, he's only 3.  Keep up the good work!


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