Superheroes and Stereotypes…
I haven’t written on any blog for quite some time. I haven’t done much writing on any social media for quite some time. I have been involved in my schoolwork, my kids and more recently, getting ready for my wedding. I have lots to share about all of that, but really, with all the news focusing on Caitlyn Jenner and a post that came over my feed today (Heteronormativity in Schools) and a recent happening at school, I just need to think out loud.
I love the message this picture I saw on Facebook sends to girls:
It comes from a campaign begun by a tech company that sponsors a “Girls in Tech” event. Quoted from that:
“In science, technology, arts, mathematics, politics, houses of worship, on the streets, and in our homes, insightful women are often uninvited, overlooked, or just plain dismissed.
“Through storytelling, community building, innovation and creative disruptions, It Was Never a Dress will foster necessary conversations, vital voices, and images from around the world that honor ALL women. When we see women differently… we see the world differently!”
When I showed it to a second grader, she immediately smiled and said–“It’s a cape!” Her Mom happened to be right behind her, walking into my room and said, “Oh, cool. Girls are superheroes!”
Then the original girl and another kid asked to put some around the school. I suggested they put them in the girl’s bathrooms, and so we printed a bunch out and a middle school helper and two 2nd graders organized hanging them around the building.
About 15-30 minutes later I was in the girl’s bathroom when an adult came in “checking for signs.” All of the work the girls had done had been undone in less than 30 minutes. I don’t know on whose authority (our principal wasn’t there that day) and I also don’t know why. It’s been a heck of a week, and frankly, I just haven’t had time to ask. I will ask, but we’re two days away from the last day, and it’s crazy busy right now.
But I have been thinking and wondering why…
I have also been wondering why no one said anything about it–no question to the staff, no comments, nothing–and there’s one of these on my door, and on the doors of other teachers/classrooms in the building.
I am a gay woman getting married this summer. I have gotten some pushback about that from some surprising places, but have encountered MUCH more support, and my colleagues and principal have been just plain downright wonderful. As I said to my staff in a celebration they gave me, unless you’ve been part of a minority that’s experienced discrimination, you really have no idea how deeply it impacts your life in many, many ways–both good and bad. It makes you pay attention to things that may mean nothing, but may also be representing people unthinkingly perpetuating discrimination or prejudice. One often doesn’t know, but if you are part of a minority group, you wonder. At least, I wonder.
I just can’t help but wonder why a picture that makes young girls think about themselves as superheroes would be a bad thing to post in an elementary school. Thoughts?