I once wrote a speech called “The One Thing A Male Can Do Without Any Effort, But A Female Can’t, No Matter How Hard She Tries”. Can you guess the answer? I wrote it in 1995 to get back at a guest tutor in my Auckland teacher’s college course. She’d been lecturing at us for a few weeks, mostly reading out of one book, telling us examples of how females were treated badly in schools. The last week of the course had us students making a short speech about what we’d learned. What I’d done is go to the library and find a copy of the book she’d been reading from. I discovered it was published in 1901. She’d been telling us all about how females had it bad over 90 years beforehand, and pretending it was present-day problems. So I wrote a speech about what I’d learned – that some people are lunatics, and we should focus on the problems that are actually occurring in New Zealand schools NOW.
I was reminded of that because of the Australian, and then Japanese female basketball teams flying in economy class to the Olympics while the men’s teams were flying business class. D’oh! That’s NOT good, and there should be some people who lose their jobs over that decision. But it’s not brutal sexism, is it. I managed to find online one of the examples of what that guest lecturer was telling us would-be-teachers that happened in history – if a female teacher got married, it was grounds for dismissal (that was 1872, though).
The point of my speech 17 years ago is the same as the point of my writing this. Yes, sexism exists, but it’s important to realise that; a) things are much better than they were, and b) both genders are badly treated by people in charge of a society that believes company managers deserve a higher salary than police officers, fire fighters, nurses, or yes, teachers.
Although, you should really check out the list of 1872 Instructions to Teachers, it has some great stuff in there. I particularly like “Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes or two evenings if they go to church regularly”. You should probably also check out this list of why students were caned in 1901 and be very glad that we grew up much later.
We should definitely all know about the Suffragettes and their struggles, though. Emily Davison, Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst and NZ’s Kate Sheppard should all be remembered: I once told a group of women in their 50s that rape used to be considered a crime against a man’s property and that if a woman questioned a female’s role in society she could have their ovaries removed – and they laughed and said it was impossible. Don’t forget history, but don’t pretend we still live there, either.
And what can males do without effort but females can’t do no matter how hard they try? Create a Y Chromosome. That’s all.