Sexist Pigs

Pigs and boys can be firefighters

Our guest blogger, Katie Elfer, tackles some frank and innocent questions from her son which raise some questions with her about gender stereotyping from a young age.

My little boy got me on my all-singing all-dancing feminist high horse yesterday. I picked him up from nursery and as we were walking home we saw a fire engine. “Neeeee Naaaw, Neeeeee Naaaaaww!!” I shouted excitedly and poked his arm to see it pass us (it had been a long day). He asked what firemen did and I corrected him gently – “do you mean firefighter darling”.

“No, Fireman” he repeated.

“No” I argued, “women can be firefighters too”

“Nooo!” he said incredulously and laughed at me, “women can’t be firemen”

This made me feel a little bit cross. “Of course women can be firefighters. Women can be anything they want to be. They can be…urm..firefighters or soldiers or doctors or astronauts or builders. Anthing. Anything that men can be because women are just as good. Women are just as capable as men”

He was quiet and contemplative. Where had my lovely little boy heard kind of dangerous, sexist and limiting thinking, I wondered? It concerned me. I panicked.  “Where have you heard that women can’t be firefighters?”I asked.

“Well, he said thoughtfully, there are no women firemen in books ever, are there?”

He had a point. A serious point. He had possibly just uncovered a momentous  oversight in my parental education.  It became quickly apparent that I was a terrible mother and woman generally. How had I let it come to this? I was raising a sexist young man all because the choice of reading material was indeed outdated, stereotyping women’s roles. I scanned my brain quickly to identify what firefighter related books we had read recently but all I could think of was…

“Pigs can though” he said shrugging

“Pardon?” I said

“Pigs, can be firefighters. I’ve seen a book with a pig in it. “

“Oh”

Perhaps I might have overreacted a little. Turned out he was more questioning the problematic use of ‘men’ to define pig fire-fighters rather than spouting sexist rhetoric at me as I first assumed. I might have been a bit sensitive there. Still, at least he is now absolutely clear that women can make up at least 50% of all the top lawyers, astronauts and head honchos at the bank so my little lecture can’t have hurt the feminist cause. Hmmmm. I’ve still to find a book with a female firefighter in though.

My little boy got me on my all-signing all-dancing feminist high horse yesterday. I picked him up from nursery and as we were walking home we saw a fire engine. “Neeeee Naaaw, Neeeeee Naaaaaww!!” I shouted excitedly and poked his arm to see it pass us (it had been a long day). He asked what firemen did and I corrected him gently – “do you mean firefighter darling”.

“No, Fireman” he repeated.

“No” I argued, “women can be firefighters too”

“Nooo!” he said incredulously and laughed at me, “women can’t be firemen”

This made me feel a little bit cross. “Of course women can be firefighters. Women can be anything they want to be. They can be…urm..firefighters or soldiers or doctors or astronauts or builders. Anthing. Anything that men can be because women are just as good. Women are just as capable as men”

He was quiet and contemplative. Where had my lovely little boy heard kind of dangerous, sexist and limiting thinking, I wondered? It concerned me. I panicked.  “Where have you heard that women can’t be firefighters?”I asked.

“Well, he said thoughtfully, there are no women firemen in books ever, are there?”

He had a point. A serious point. He had possibly just uncovered a momentous  oversight in my parental education.  It became quickly apparent that I was a terrible mother and woman generally. How had I let it come to this? I was raising a sexist young man all because the choice of reading material was indeed outdated, stereotyping women’s roles. I scanned my brain quickly to identify what firefighter related books we had read recently but all I could think of was…

“Pigs can though” he said shrugging

“Pardon?” I said

“Pigs, can be firefighters. I’ve seen a book with a pig in it. “

“Oh”

Perhaps I might have overreacted a little. Turned out he was more questioning the problematic use of ‘men’ to define pig fire-fighters rather than spouting sexist rhetoric at me as I first assumed. I might have been a bit sensitive there. Still, at least he is now absolutely clear that women can make up at least 50% of all the top lawyers, astronauts and head honchos at the bank so my little lecture can’t have hurt the feminist cause. Hmmmm. I’ve still to find a book with a female firefighter in though.

About: Katie Elfer, Director Cookery Doodle Doo Ltd

Katie originally moved down to Brighton for University, then met my husband Sam and never wanted to leave! She writes, “Life in Brighton is very different than my student days, now we have a child, but it has given me a fresh appreciation of the place. Whether it is the fantastic beach and parks, the healthy baby-friendly cafes or the fact that every weekend there is always some wacky event going on. We are never bored!”

As well as being a mummy, she works full-time and have a start-up business; Cookery Doodle Doo, cookery and food-craft classes with children. She particularly likes combining her passion for nutrition and craft plus ‘testing’ themes on her little boy, especially cake which he loves. She also blogs over at Justfunctioning.com, quirky and funny insights into parenting and other topics.

The latest Cookery Doodle Doo events and a recipe ideas section ‘What’s for tea tonight?’ can be found at www.cookerydoodledoo.net

My little boy got me on my all-signing all-dancing feminist high horse yesterday. I picked him up from nursery and as we were walking home we saw a fire engine. “Neeeee Naaaw, Neeeeee Naaaaaww!!” I shouted excitedly and poked his arm to see it pass us (it had been a long day). He asked what firemen did and I corrected him gently – “do you mean firefighter darling”.

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About Claire Jones-Hughes

Founder and co-editor of BrightonMums.com, Claire has been blogging since 2009. She has posted on a variety of sites including The Argus, The Huffington Post and The Guardian's Comment Is Free. Known as The Contented Mummy on social media, she is dedicated to honest, unsponsored blogging so that parents can benefit from shared experience. Can also be found at www.fitfaband40.co.uk - sharing her journey to health & wellness.

View all posts by Claire Jones-Hughes →

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