Schoolyard Feminism

8:02 PM

Every Friday morning I take the five-minute drive to Sawyer Street and make my way up the stairs of the local elementary school. I'm a volunteer teacher's aide in name and in reality a part-time sister, a human jungle-gym and a flesh-and-blood hug-dispenser for nineteen kindergartners. They each have their adorable little personalities and their petty cat fights and their depths-of-despair look when our teacher reprimands them for something ridiculous. And like all classes, they have their universal quirks and commonalities. For instance, all the girls seem to be cheerleaders, though I've never actually heard of a kindergarten cheerleading squad. What I have heard is their chant - so much so that I could quote it in my sleep:

Lemonade! (clap, clap, clap)
Crunchiest! (clap, clap, clap)
Sip it once! (clap, clap, clap)
Sip it twice! (clap, clap, clap)
Lemonade!
Crunchiest!
Sip it once!
Sip it twice!
Turn around -
Touch the ground -
Kick your boyfriend out of town!
Freeze!

Cute, is it not? The teachers all seem to think so - though admittedly, it became a little too cute after round 51 on the bus ride back from the park.

Call me a prude, but I take issue at the second-to-last line. What's up with kicking one's boyfriend out of town? How did that even make the cut? It's innocuous enough to the reader who has not seen a squad of six-year-old girls shout it out in all innocence and ignorance. But really, truly, wonder with me - what philosophy made boyfriend abuse acceptable?

It's not just a lone line in a kindergarten cheer. Ever heard of "girls rule - boys drool"? That's fresh off the schoolyard - or, rather not fresh; it's been around much longer than that. It's feminism at its core: woman is not equal to man - she's superior to man. Its wrapping is cute, sassy and just plain typical. I call it schoolyard feminism.

If one wonders why this generation disperses feminists in droves, it's because feminism's proponents laid this foundation of female empowerment in the schoolyard. Anything that calls girls to place their identity on being better boys than boys is bound to do one thing: just that. One girl nailed it: "The only thing boys can do that girls can't is walk around with their shirts off and use the boys' restroom - and who wants to do that, anyway?"

It hit home to me how very much this thinking has infiltrated when I babysat another young girl - homeschooled, in this case, and raised in a Christian home. Me being her big-sister-and-best-babysitter-ever, she threw out this quasi-question several times during my time with her: "It's better being a girl, right?"

And I thought, "What on earth?"

But I said (being the big-sister-and-best-babysitter-ever), "No. It's wonderful being a girl - it's special - but it's not better than being a boy. We're just different."

And it's true - being a girl is the best thing that happened to me. I love being a girl. I revel in it. Can I share a secret? I'm not even ashamed to like pink. Indeed, anything that devalues or sneers at girlhood ought to ruffle any sensible person's feathers. Why then doesn't it ruffle some feathers to hear boys being trampled on, their boyhood smeared? Why don't the proponents of equality-first-and-foremost decry kicking boys out of town?

Strangely, we're silent on that. If feminism stopped at equality of worth, I would have no bone to pick. What I take issue with is the schoolyard chants, the elementary phrases and the think-ology of "It's better being a girl, right?" Female empowerment, yes. Equality? No. That's called chauvinism.

Our girls do no better than male chauvinist pigs if they embrace a "girls rule - boys drool" philosophy. Because we were (or are, for sake of argument) oppressed once does not then make it acceptable to oppress and ridicule the opposite sex. If we women demand respect for our sex, we must also dish out respect to men as unique image-bearers of God. If feminists call for equality gender-wise, they ought to be the first to blow the whistle on schoolyard feminism - the cutesy kick-your-boyfriend-out-of-town type, now playing in a school near you.

Instead of chauvinism for either gender, we must get back to a Biblical worldview on gender differences. No man ought ever to pound his chest and declare dominance because he's male. Conversely, ladies, don't dominate in a "hear me roar" way. It's not better being a man. It's not better being a woman. But you know what's best? Embracing, protecting and respecting gender differences. That's equality.

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18 impressions

  1. Very nicely put. I agree! I love how we agree on things, while still having such different styles of expression. :) You do it with such grace and integrity. Wonderful second post.

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  2. *nods in agreement* The three hours you spent working on this successfully banged it on the head.

    --so I was not the only one bothered by that remark from the American Girl Fan!

    I was also shocked - completely shocked - at the lemonade chant (question: what does lemonade have to do with cheerleading?).


    *hugs*

    Flop

    P.s. I'm so proud of you - way to go with your first post!

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  3. Wow... just wow. Amazing way to start off your blog Bailey!!! Remind me how old you are again? 45? Yeah, that's what I thought.
    I am saying this in unbiased honesty - you are one of the wisest and most mature young ladies of my acquaintance. I am very proud to call you my friend!!

    Oh, and as a side note.... Crunchiest?!
    I don't know, but I personally wouldn't care to drink crunchy lemonade. But maybe I'm weird that way.

    Anyway... amazing post, I can't wait to read more from you!!

    ~Elissa

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  4. Oh, and as this excellent article is on the same sort of subject, I thought you might be interested. It's long, but well worth reading!!

    http://www.westernconservatory.com/article/2009/10/supporting-our-boys-out-there

    ~Elissa

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  5. :O You did an amazing job of putting such a touchy topic into words. (Not that we're touchy about it. LOL) You did a wonderful job, and moiself is proud of you!

    Pip

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  6. Food for thought. Were all women really oppressed, abused, and undervalued or was there just a small number of them? Could it be that it was merely the feminist writers of the day who portrayed these abused women or were the majority of women really so discontented with living life by God's guidelines? There is no question that as long as men and women live in a fallen state that there was and will continue to be abuse and sin.

    I think you said it very well. Too often our daughters are taught and encouraged to be feministic from a very early eage.

    Very thought provoking, Bailey.
    ~Mrs. Pyatskowit

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  7. Lizzy - thank'ee, my dear. My mum said this was one of the few writings of mine she could understand. I'm working on more clarity. :)

    Floppeth, yeah, really, what does anything of that cheer have to do with cheerleading? Or for anything profitable, in that case?

    Love you both!

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  8. Elissa, you made me laugh so hard. :D Yep, my birthday was just the other day...45 years old. ;))) And I have no idea why lemonade would be described as "crunchiest." I've listened to the chant a billion times and still am not sure I transcribed that part right. Though maybe the ice could be described as crunchy, don't you think? I'm checking out that link right now - thanks for heads up.

    Aww, thanks, Pip!

    Mrs. Pyatskowit, I appreciate your thoughts! It blesses me to have older, wiser ladies posting. :) Please feel free to drop in any time.

    Hope y'all's Memorial Weekend was as fun as mine!

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  9. This is fantastic, Bailey! Someone posted a link to this on the LAF Facebook page. Any chance I can run it on LAF? Or at least link to it?

    Warmly,
    Mrs. Chancey

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  10. Sooo cute ! I loved the little chant ! But when does crunchiest and lemonade go together ??? LOL ! Sarah

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  11. I agree wholeheartedly! The only chore my dad ever called a "man's job" was mowing the lawn. Being severely allergic to nature, I was grateful for that one. lol I grew up as a tom-boy. I hated being told that I couldn't do something simply because I was a girl. However, I now understand some of those limitations a lot better. I highly recommend "That Hideous Strength" by C.S. Lewis. He illustrates perfectly that the differences between the sexes shouldn't be used to wield dominion over one another, but they should be admired. Women tend to be better multi-taskers, so they do better at things that require that. Men tend to possess greater physical strength, so they tend to do better at things that require that. It doesn't make one gender weaker than the other. Like you said, it just makes us different. Those differences should be appreciated. I have long complained about the devaluation and emasculation of men in our society. You did a great job calling attention to this!

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  12. Mrs. Chancey,

    My mother posted this on Facebook and I would be extremely honored to have it run on LAF. Do I need to do anything else to submit it?

    Thanks for your interest!

    In Him,
    Bailey

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  13. Sarah,

    Besides that second-to-last line...yes, it's pretty cute, if not ridiculous. LOL Let's all think up a crunchy lemonade recipe. :)

    Love you!

    Rachell,

    Hi, and welcome to my blog! I too was rather a tomboy - or, to put it another way, I just refused to be a girly-girl. The Lord's really been working on my heart to show me the true (and not manmade) differences between the sexes and how to be strong and glory in my womanhood. It truly is a glorious thing to be a girl.

    LOL I've been pestering my daddy to let me mow the lawn, but all the men of my house like to take care of it themselves. :)

    Thanks for chiming in!

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  14. That is a much better way to put it. I was very much against being a girly-girl. haha Have a blessed day!

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  15. Great post, Bailey!

    The idea that boys/men are bad/foolish is so prevalent and acceptable as humor. It's common fare for sitcoms and commercials, as well. There's a current radio commercial for Hardee's that ends with, "Girls, your father is an idiot." Grrrrr.
    It's a common theme even in childrens' picture books (for example, Berenstain Bears - although I have been known to enjoy The Bicycle Book.)

    Anyway, I enjoy reading your posts. I bet if you asked Maddi really nicely, she'd let you help mow our lawn! :)

    Have a great day,
    Mrs. Stuewer

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  16. Wow, I am impressed with how you answered that little girl, Bailey. You are wise beyond your years. (You're 50 compared to me):-)
    Love,
    KT

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  17. Thanks, Rachell! Have a blessed day too!

    Mrs. Stuewer,

    Wow - I can't believe my brother's working for such a men-bashing institution. Seriously, though - that's just grossly offensive. And I remember "The Berenstein Bears" from way back before my mother finally had had enough with them.

    Now I must go beg Maddi to let me mow the lawn. :) Thanks for offering your thoughts! I love all my favorite homeschool ladies joining in on my blog.

    Well, KT, I'm fairly sure it didn't sound quite so eloquent in real life...only I don't carry tape recorders around to know exactly what I say. Glad I don't. :)

    So then: I'm 45 to Elissa and 50 to you - I didn't know one could grow up so fast.

    :)

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  18. Isn't funny how kindergarten kids are already thinking about the term "boyfriend." I was talking to a 7th grade guy with a group of others, and he was telling a Junior in High School guy how to get a girlfriend. We asked him how many girlfriends he had, and he replied "five." As we get older, we realize that is way too young!
    Yes, You are right on target. Females often treat males as the lesser subject now, when it needs to be equal. It makes girls feel better when they can have dominion, but in the long run they end up getting frustrated and confused.
    Excellent again! Your writting skills and thoughts are very well composed! LOVE, STACY

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