kids@work day

avril chalmers (
Fri, 26 Apr 1996 12:57:01 -0400

Melissa, you said

It's been my experience that if "the
authorities" make a big deal out of this and force boys/men out of public
activities in public schools, of course they will get excited and demand
their rights.

I don't know if the authorities made a "big deal" or not. Seems to me
simply holding "girls only" lectures is regarded as provocation enough.
Since the only information I have is from a news story I don't know how the
situation in the Ottawa school became "newsworthy" but certainly in very
recent years, expcially after the research from Sadker and Sadker and the
AAUW Report How Schools Shortchange Women, people in schools have
recognized that sometimes girls need a 'girlspace' to talk about their
issues. In today's overheated and reactionary climate about equity
initiatives in general, I would guess that the young men insisting on their
'right' to attend the girl-only lectures are more interesting in
maintaining their privilege than in ensuring the overcoming of social
values which inhibit girls from thinking of becoming police officers,
firefighters, engineers etc. etc. I would assume that America's Title IX
came about because girls were streamed into traditional courses or excluded
from some sports, thereby limiting their full inclusion into all facets of
school and economic life and the intention of such legislation was to
address an inequity directed toward females, not males. The fact that the
legislation can come to be used to prevent initiatives which might help
overcome social inequities surely just points to the problematic nature of
all generalized and 'neutral' wording: it can turn as easily one way as
another, and in many cases when used contrary to the spirit of its
inception, to protect already existing privilege rather than redress an
inequitable discrimination.

Avril Chalmers

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