As the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation today urged schools to provide more girl-friendly sports and sctivities – like Zumba (yay!) – i experienced first hand this morning how the “male gaze” can transform everyday activities, turning a class of grown women into a bunch of unco-ordinated girls. Read the rest of this entry »
Posts tagged girls
This is an international interdisciplinary conference hosted by the Centre for Culture, Media and Creative Industries and the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College, London on September 13 & 14 , 2012
Papers will be welcomed from across the social sciences, arts and humanities, including sociology, geography, media and communication studies, digital humanities, web science, gender studies, queer studies, cultural studies and postcolonial theory, as well as from artists, activists, grassroots and community initiatives and policy makers/think tanks.
Themes of the conference include:
Girls experiences of digital culture
Gender and social media
Activism and politics
Identity and subjectivity
Gender and blogging
Gender, play and digital culture
Power and digital divisions
Intersectional and transnational approaches
Abstracts of up to 200 words should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, by 31st March 2012
Oh dear! Much frothing over at the Mail, where yet again, confusion reigns as to what is sexualisation, what is just a realistic recognition that teenagers – girls as well as boys – do things that have a sexual dimension. Not only, but – shock! horror! – there is nothing wrong with this.
Read the rest of this entry »
In a week when newspapers were awash with fears that a ten-year old starting to transition might be bullied by her fellow pupils, it is oddly ironic that i should find myself on the receiving end of stick from a bunch of mouthy pre-pubescent girls.
“This is for girls only”
Its the Leisure Centre again, naturally. At a time when, touch wood, rudery about me and my appearance is receding ever further and being “Sir”‘d is increasingly a thing of the past i’ve just had an earful from the girls in the local Swim Club.
As usual, i took the boy in to swim at 9: took him into the Women’s changing area; and as usual got a load of hmmphed shoulders and “Really!” from three or four girls by the door. However, today it seems to be spreading since, going past the shower area, i also got a chorus of “this is the girls’ changing room” from a foursome in the showers.
Contempt breeds ignorance
That is, possibly, an attitude changer. Hitherto, i’ve been tolerant, calculating that in a world where children are warned in ever more lurid tones of stranger danger, i should at least make allowances for girls possibly feeling wary or intimidated by my presence. But actually, they aren’t. This is not worry, so much as pack hunting…and its unpleasant.
Intersting, too, that it happens at 9 – when the Swim Club is in (mostly consisting of girls unaccompanied in the changing area) – and not at 9.30, when i share the area with a load of Mum’s who mostly interact very pleasantly with me.
So what’s up? And what to do?
The local Swim Club
The Swim Club thing is appallingly unfinished business. Months back, my last major bit of transphobic threat came from an “adult” member of that organisation, who threatened to hit me if i returned to the changing area. After words with the Centre Management and with the police, that went away and no more was heard on that front.
Still, i felt it would be helpful to offer an olive branch. I offered to do a talk for the community and, along the way, the Swim Club were invited. Possibly a mistake, since their committee instantly started to act as though they “owned” my talk, expressed shock and horror that a tranny was using the Women’s Area, and started laying down thoughts about how the talk should happen.
Huh? Control freaks, too!
In the end i said “no”: i put on the talk, about a week pre-op, invited the local community and, with the full support of the Leisure Centre management, a very good night appears to have been had by all.
The swim club didn’t turn up. Not a single member. Not a sausage. Like…they are collectively so concerned by the “threat” this lone trans woman poses to their kids that not one of them could find time on a weekday evening to come and find out more.
I wouldn’t, at this stage, describe them as a bunch of loud-mouthed bigots: but the temptation is growing.
Desperately seeking resolution
And that brings me back to the 9 am catcalling. It is hurtful. Also, difficult. If they were adlts, i’d take them on. Kids, in today’s culture? Nah.
I’m not saying its the FAULT of the parents. But i am beginning to think it is. It cannot be that all these girls go home, having been traumatised by my presence, and not one of them mentions it to their mum or dad.
At which point, what? Do their parents go: ah yes, but some boys grow up to be girsl, and vice-versa. Or do they, like the closet bigots quoted in this week’s tabloids, weasel their way round this by saying that they don’t have any problem with trans folk, but it stands to reason that there is going to be concern.
For that, loud and clear, is the message that many parents in Worcester were putting out this week. We’re not encouraging bullying or violence. But we understand it…
Much as in the States, when teachers and pupils effectively condoned the murder of student Scott King by sugesting that they could see “tensions on campus rising after King began coming to school dressed in makeup and girl’s boots”.
Hmmm. I am starting to recognise the whiff of bigotry at long distance. Most will never express it directly: they’ll just “worry” about how other folk (never them!) will react. And in the process, they will tacitly condone it.
What then to do? I won’t take the girls on directly. I will speak (again) to the Centre management. And i’ll chat to the local cpso: there has to be a resolution to this short of confrontation and nastiness.
Except, sadly, by their actions, it begins to look as though this is the only language the swim club understands…
Its strange how many years it takes to realise some very basic stuff about yourself.
Last night i was out at a club. Hmmm. It was a club, in the words of the immortally funny Robin Williams, for “ladies in comfortable shoes”. Oh dear: readers of a sensitive disposition, and easily embarrassed by the L-word, should avert their eyes now. It was a club for lesbians or, more prosaically, for those women who enjoy the company of other women.
My contribution to the evening’s merriment was to offer my services as amateur masseuse. The latter is a sometime hobby – maybe a skill i will now take the time to get properly qualified in – and definitely an activity i look forward to providing again.
The atmosphere was a tad racier than the average WI meet..yet also, strangely safe, in a way i have never experienced in a mixed setting. The highlight for me was sitting down, at about 2 in the morning, and just chatting. No pressure to be anything, do anything, score any points…It was easy, in a way i have found few things in life to be easy.
Today i thought about other environments i have tried to fit into. School, for one, where i never belonged to the rampantly heterosexual, all boys sporty cliques – but didn’t belong, either, to the camper, queerer drama sets. Even then, i was betwixt and between.
Work, where i have always felt ill at ease with maleness, laddishness, all-boys-together after work boozing and socialising.
I thought about the mums at my daughter’s first school: how i would have loved to chat, to get on; just to be accepted. Contrariwise, i thought about the mums at the boy’s school today: i’m not “one of them”…but i feel welcome in a way i never have before. Thank you so much.
Too, i thought of a recent moment at our neighbour’s. As always, boys and girls divided: the blokes stood round discussing air rifles, fishing, sport; and i sat quietly with the women. Just…happy.
I feel at home for maybe the first time in my life. No longer “a slightly feminine bloke who gets on with women”: but one of the crowd. That, for now, is more than enough.
To anyone there last night, thank you: thank you again. You make me cry. Tears of sadness, at not having found this sooner.
And tears of happiness at feeling, finally, home.