Girls and school

From: Sharon Vaipae (
Date: Thu Jun 17 1999 - 14:37:57 EDT

You wrote:
>>"Girl Trap? The game goes like this: a group of boys perch on the monkey bars
like hungry raptors, etc.

I am an old Caucasian woman who experienced job-related sexual harassment
in the sixties and seventies, and had no recourse as is available today. Now as
I age, there is a new (to me) set of inequities encountered. Coming from a
family whose athletic mother used to beat men in river races, and got her Ph.D
in Roman History at the age of 67 - I learned to proceed with my affairs as
though the obstacles did not exist. After tons of
legislation, and lots of time, things should be much improved. My
12-year-old daughter's life is not proving radically different.

She recently put aside her more feminine clothes, girl magazines, and other
accompaniments. She also wanted her curly hair cut short. She dumped her
huge collection of Barbies and other dolls, with which she has played for
years. I know that our several moves internationally were tough on her,
and the "families and schools" she set up with her dolls were useful as
theraputic play assisting her adjustment in making new friends and learning
the new rules of each culture. Perhaps it is just "tomboy time" for her,
but she specifically stated her reason for wanting to look and act more
like a boy as "boys get treated better, and get most of the good stuff
first." The details that accompanied this were related primarily to school
and friend experiences in the United States. Two recent examples:
Caucasian girl's response to my daughter's invitation: "My mom says I
can't come to your house 'cause you are Mexican."
Teacher on California field trip: "Let the boys go down the path first; it
is really steep."

Now all I can figure is that my daughter is keenly observant and that she
does not like what she sees. Her response is perhaps of the variety "if you
can't beat 'em, join 'em." In Japan, boys were openly and deliberately
given first of everything. Equity is declared here, but the reality has not
escaped her. Her ethnic identity is equally beseiged as she is a double -
Samoan and Caucasian. In Japan, she enjoyed the popular status of an
"exotic-looking" English-speaking foreigner. Here in the United States, she
is frequently thought to be Hispanic (as above), and has experienced
put-downs and exclusions on that basis in a community apparently committed
to maintaining migrant workers outside the mainstream. I am as much
concerned about what she is learning here about the status and treatment of
minorities as I am about how she is affected by it personally.

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Sharon Vaipae
Esteemed _Professor_ of English as a Foreign Language in Japanese national
university, but low-status ESL teacher of those migrant kids in the United

Ya wanna talk equity?

"The truth shall make you odd."
             - Flannery O'Conner

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