Blog Against Sexism Day

UPDATE: I have edited this post to delete a second subject originally referenced because I decided I didn’t have enough info to speak on the issue.
In honor of International Women’s Day and Blog Against Sexism Day, I will take up the two one questions raised by Amanda in her BASD post.

1) When did I embrace feminism/become aware of sexism:  At a pretty early age.  My first encounter with the public school system when I entered kindergarted involved a ‘test’ so they could determine how prepared I was for kindergarten.  The test had several components: learning, such as knowing the alphabet & stuff like that (that part I did fine), and a social component, that I almost flunked. 

Why did I almost flunk?  Because I did not know the answer to two questions: (a) what did my daddy do (workwise)? and (b) Did my daddy wear a tie to work?

Think about those two questions and how loaded they are.  First, they did not ask if I could answer these questions with respect to my mom, which I could have told them what she did and what she wore).   So the questions themselves were sexist.  But also, the questions were loaded with class issues – not only were they trying to figure out what I knew about my family, they were gathering information about my family so they could put me in my proper pecking order.   Was my daddy blue or white collar (in those days all white collar workers wore a tie, no business casual)?  What kind of job did my daddy have?

I didn’t know the answer to these questions because my parents were separated – I didn’t see my dad everyday (usually a couple times a year b/c he lived several hours away) and so had no clue what he did or what he wore.  I don’t remember the test specifically, but I remember my mom being furious.  Furious at the sexism inherent in the questions and furious that I was being tagged as “socially immature” because my family situation was such that I was ignorant of what the testers saw as ‘basic’ information that a child my age should know.   I think she may also have been concerned about them not letting me into kindergarten becase as a single mom paying for my care while she worked, having me in public school for a few hours a day had a real positive effect on our family budget.

So, from a very early age, I was aware of sexism.  My mom, as a single divorced mom starting a new career told me tales on a regular basis of her sexist working conditions.  I don’t know if I called the fight against sexism “feminism” but I knew what it was even if I didn’t know the word.

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