to say something to the teacher or is it not worth following up?

(129 Posts)
saffronwblue Fri 16-Nov-12 03:30:38

DD, 10 goes to an all girls school. Lots of good talk in all the school literature about how girls and women can do anything etc.
DD came home from school yesterday describing the sports lesson in which the (male) teacher made a big point of telling them not to "throw the ball like girls". With lots of demonstrations and laughter about weak girl throwing.
As a feminist I am not thrilled about this linking of weak and laughable with being a girl. Should I have a quick word with him or am I being boring and humourless? I never know when to speak up!

tisnottheseasonyet Sun 18-Nov-12 13:46:40

A lot of grips required in this thread.

But if you are going to be pedantic and nit-picky, it's hilarious that the first response was also sexist and potentially offensive to parents of young boys

"You can remind your DD she is the stronger of the two sexes"

kickassangel Sun 18-Nov-12 13:19:45

Don't get me started on the whole under/over arm thing. Oops, too late smile

Throwing overran results in a faster ball. But throwing underarm is slightly more accurate. Throwing underarm actually strains more muscles and is more likely to lead to damage.

Even in professional sport women are expected to throw under arm. This makes them less good at throwing and carries more risk of pulled muscles. Then they get told they're not as good at it.

Why are women expected to throw underarm and men throw over arm? Just because women should be more dainty/feminine.

Thank goodness that women no longer have to wear tight restrictive clothing during sport which prevents them playing well. Oh, no, there was the Australian women's basketball clothing for the las couple of Olympics, and all that fuss over beach volleyball. Hmmm, perhaps women really are being prevented from competing as equals.

Btw, I would hope that if my dd spoke to me about something like this, I would deal with it appropriately, and it wouldn't shame her into silence. I wonder why exotic is trying to dissuade the op with such an emotional argument? If my dd had talked this through with me, it could well be that she wanted me on her side and helping her to voice her thoughts about it.

FromEsme Sun 18-Nov-12 11:01:26

Hrm, well, I don't remember any breast-related comments, but then I was flat as a pancake til I was about 17.

flow4 Sun 18-Nov-12 10:59:16

I'm thinking back to my own adolescence, and the comments and attitudes I encountered, specifically relating to my body, my breasts and my gender, that all helped me to grow up thinking sport wasn't 'for' girls and women...

"Oo, I think it's time we got you a sports bra!"

"It's the ball that's supposed to bounce, not you!"

"You must give yourself a black eye when you run!"

"Girls should throw under-arm. It's more ladylike"

"Don't run. It's not ladylike".

"The boys don't watch girls' netball for the game!"

flow4 Sun 18-Nov-12 10:50:58

I agree with all of that, except that I think we underestimate (or forget) the effect that growing breasts have on girls. It's probably as much psychological as physical, and as I say, the expectations start long before girls have breasts that actually might affect them physically.

FromEsme Sun 18-Nov-12 10:43:25

I don't think bad throwing has anything to do with boobs. I think it has more to do with girls not being encouraged into sport. It is fine in our society for a woman to not be good at sport: for a man, it's seen as a failing. There's really no incentive for girls to take up or put effort into sport.

flow4 Sun 18-Nov-12 10:35:58

I think it goes something like this:

At puberty, girls grow breasts, which changes their shape and their balance and their muscle/soft tissue ratios, and so their throwing style changes. They need to re-learn how to throw well with their 'new' bodies.

We have a culture where gender stereotyping is rife, and adults say things like "Don't throw like a girl", giving girls the clear message that they throw differently from boys, and badly. So girls expect to throw differently and badly.

However, the gender stereotyping starts (long) before puberty, so girls begin to expect to throw differently and badly years before there is any real reason why they might.

It becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, and (many) PE teachers and others don't bother to teach girls how to throw well, because the gender stereotyping in their heads tells them girls throw badly anyway - it's just 'natural'.

We don't know what was going on inside the head of this particular PE teacher when he told this group of girls "Don't throw like girls". Maybe he intended to challenge them to throw better, but the effect will have been to reinforce the stereotype.

AmandaCooper Sun 18-Nov-12 07:56:50

Me too Jelly it's incredibly depressing. Is "don't throw like a homosexual" or "don't throw like someone with learning disabilities" ok as well, as long as your motive is to discourage poor throwing technique?

JellyMould Sun 18-Nov-12 07:28:01

I'm amazed and depressed that people see nothing sexist in using 'girl throws' as a synonym for 'rubbish throws'.

EmmaBemma Sun 18-Nov-12 07:14:31

It is a sexist thing to say, no doubt about it. However I've got two daughters myself (of 5 and 2) and in your position I think I would focus my energies on building my daughter's confidence and preparing her to look out for that sort of thoughtless sexism as she grows up; explaining where it comes from, why it's not OK and help her come up with ways to challenge it. And also, of course, that there's no reason being her gender should stop her from doing anything, throwing balls included.

exoticfruits Sun 18-Nov-12 07:01:17

And it would be a shame because never, ever again would I tell her anything similar.

exoticfruits Sun 18-Nov-12 06:49:41

I would think of your DD first- if my mother did that I would want the ground to swallow me up!

SirBoobAlot Sat 17-Nov-12 23:24:28

I'd have a word with him, and suggest to her that next time he says that, she asks him exactly what he means by it.

FromEsme Sat 17-Nov-12 23:21:48

Throwing like a girl is covered in the excellent "The Frailty Myth" which is well worth a read.

SlightlySoupStainedBabygrows Sat 17-Nov-12 23:20:27

I realise the discussion isn't so much about how girls throw as it is about whether it's worth picking up a teacher on carelessly sexist wording, but wanted to share this link from the Washington Post:
www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/throw-like-a-girl-with-some-practice-you-can-do-better/2012/09/10/9ffc8bc8-dc09-11e1-9974-5c975ae4810f_story.html?hpid=z1

Summary: boys do tend to throw better than girls, but coaching girls can close that gap (the reporter has 30 mins coaching from a softball coach and improves her throwing). Has a nice breakdown of the different stages of an overhand throw. Makes me want to go out and throw stuff!

kickassangel Sat 17-Nov-12 22:47:45

But the op only knows about it cis her daughter was sufficiently upset by it to mention it. So prob it is worth having a word. And yes teachers should watch how they address stereotypes and correcting mistakes made by their students. It's actually a really major consideration in teacher training to ensure we don't make sweeping generalizations that could sound derogatory about students

ThrowyMcThrowersen Sat 17-Nov-12 19:59:37

Have been skimming this on and off throughout the day but not had a chance to post so may have missed some of the arguments.

It's an interesting one... I throw things well - I always could but I suspect that was because I grew up spending my summers at cricket and all the kids (girls and boys) were cricket mad and learned to play properly from an early age. I also have a good build for throwing (strong shoulders and upper arms) and competed at Varsity level for Javelin and Shot Putt. Up until puberty I could easily throw as far (if not further) than boys and even as a teenager good technique meant I could still offset some of the raw physical strength advantage boys had.

A few years ago I qualified as a cricket coach - partly I did this so that the small number of girls we have at our local club had a 'role model' type coach if such a thing mattered to them as they got older. When I did my coaching course it was me, a bunch of dads in their late 30s or older who had played all their lives and now wanted to coach their kids and a number of 'young lads' who were at various stages in PE teacher training or primary teacher training. On the first day when we were doing the excruciating 'introduce yourself and say what you want to get out of the course', I basically said I loved cricket and wanted to be a role model and show that it could be a serious sport for women. The lead coach for the course made some 'jokey' remark about how girls were different from boys and although I can't remember exactly what it was it was along the lines of how girls did tend to be scared of the hard balls etc.

I did pick him up on it (in my inimitable style I said something along the lines of: 'oh yes and also I want to make sure they're not insulted by stereotypes') and the guy conceded the comment wasn't great. That said however once you get past the tinies at coaching (ie under 6/7s who generally are all equally crap at throwing until you teach them how to do it) uncoached boys and girls will generally throw differently. Girls are (in my experience) much more prone to do what I suspect the PE teacher was getting at - a kind of flop downwards from almost the elbow. I don't know why this is as I coach at club level, not in a school, I'm pretty damn sure not throwing like that isn't a Y chromosome linked thing) however I have wondered before if it comes off netball throwing which is much more a push from the arms rather than a power from the shoulder...

After all this ramble I'm not sure if YANBU or not... my training coach's comment was surprising to me, especially given how hot the ECB is on 'inclusivity' as part of its coaches training. I suspect that kind of comment can have some sexist assumptions at the heart of it, however equally there are a lot (absolutely not all) of girls who do throw in a particular way. The 'weak' bit may be reading too much into it, like I said it's pure technique rather than strength - what seems to be girly throwing is using wrist and elbow rather than shoulder power. What you can do is show some examples of great girl throwers - and not just Olympic shot putters who may not seem like attractive athletes to young girls - someone like Jess Ennis could probably throw a ball further than most secondary school boys, or Charlotte Edwards who captained the England Women's cricket team.

exotic, there's a poster on here who's an academic and studies education, and she reckons you can ... but don't let facts get in the way, eh?

You can recognise a way girls write, or throw, quite probably because we gender stereotype children.

I don't see how it makes it ok to be derogatory about those things.

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 17:29:33

My mother had her deeply embarrassing moments, but if she had gone in about a PE teacher's joke I would have been mortified and never told her anything about the lesson ever again!

OP has said that she is leaving it-I thought.

FromEsme Sat 17-Nov-12 17:20:32

Again, exotic, to you it's not important. That's fine. I think it's quite rude to say that something that's important to someone else shouldn't be though.

How do you know the OP will go in all guns blazing? Maybe she'll just have a quick word.

It is a pretty shit teacher who would avoid a parent on the basis of one complaint and I've never been more on the side of one parent than another.

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 17:15:49

You can go in all guns blazing-probably get the result you want- but you will be the parent to avoid and less likely to get staff on your side. I prefer to stick to the important stuff.

EternalHope Sat 17-Nov-12 17:14:35

Slightly off topic but related: the HEADMISTRESS at my DD's high achieving girls' school gave a speech at their final assembly. As she wrapped up an anodyne speech, she said she wanted the girls to remember what a fantastic education they had had (so far, so good) so when a "rich banker" was on one knee and proposing they first had to insist that he donate to the school before they accepted angry If even a top girls' school assumes that the only way girls will get money is by marrying a rich chap rather than through their own endeavours then I despair.

FromEsme Sat 17-Nov-12 17:12:37

Yeah, shitty old PC, so much better when you could just let whatever shit you wanted come out of your mouth.

FromEsme Sat 17-Nov-12 17:12:14

I think it's fine that teachers need to watch their words, to be honest. It's something we learn a lot about in training.

How the hell do you know the class laughed and forgot it? I know I haven't forgotten a lot of the shit my teachers came out with. How do you know they weren't worried? Even if they weren't, that shitty message enters your sub-concious.

Pick your battles you say. Yeah, I will, and this is one that I would pick. People tend to take me seriously, so I'll probably be ok.

exoticfruits Sat 17-Nov-12 17:11:33

I give up and will leave you to it! I hate a world where everyone has to be PC before they open their mouths.

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