The Self in Relation

i)                    Normative Narratives  

Girls are not as tough as boys. In Jaclyn’s self story “I Can Play Too” she recalls having to prove herself when her teachers told her she couldn’t play on her school’s boys basketball team. I had a similar experience when my own father decided I couldn’t go fishing with him because he actually believed that I would hold him back. He imagined a disastrous few hours in which I talked so much and scared away all the fish, until I began to whine because I was bored, getting restless and falling helplessly into the water (I have exaggerated this, I seriously doubt my dad things I’m this hopeless). In my story “Fishing” I describe my urge to be included in my dad and brothers “bonding” and how I worked hard to prove that I could do what they could. Girls have to start proving themselves as soon as they reach an age where their peers start to notice the gender of those around them (this exact age is debatable, I think it varies from person to person). Some common rebuttals included with this normative narrative are “you might get hurt”, “you play like a girl” “you talk too much”, and even “you can’t take direction”. These rebuttals have a negative affect on a girl’s self image, but if she is able to prove herself, it can boost her self confidence. Of course, this confidence only lasts until the next time she is belittled once again because of her assumed “gender restrictions”.

It works both ways. Another normative narrative is that boys are not suppose to do girly things. This includes jobs, activities, fashion, and hobbies. Something as simple as a bubble bath can even be considered “girly”. Kennedy talks about this normative narrative in her story “Dance is For Girls”. In Kennedy’s recollection, she remembers the assumption she had at a young age that dance is just for girls. She also mentions how her sister played hockey. There would have been a time when hockey was just for boys, but I think we have actually moved past that assumption, at least in Canada. Its true that boys and girls start in about the same place when it comes to hockey. While they are young, girls and boys play on the same team and no one has much to say about it. Challenges for girls who want to play hockey become more prominent as they get older.

On the other hand, it seems that there is not really an acceptable age for a boy to be in dance. I suppose its not uncommon to see one or two boys in the toddler class, but their parents tend to pull them out once they are old enough to start hockey. In my family, my sister and brother and I were all enrolled in dance at age three. My brother wanted to play hockey when his friends started hockey. My mom pulled him out of dance at the same time because she didn’t want him to be too busy and also because he expressed no interest in his dance classes. Kennedy states that “It was just a normal thing in society, to label a girl more boyish if she played hockey, but even worse, boys don’t dance and if they do they are usually thought of as gay.” Which unfortunately is spot on when you consider our social tendencies to mindlessly separate boys and girls on a regular basis. My brother was picked on in school when his classmates heard that he used to be in dance.

ii)                  Creating Counter Stories: Disrupting Normative Narratives

 

The normative narrative that girls aren’t as tough as boys was disrupted in Jess’s story “Tomboy”. In this story Jess tells her readers about a negative experience involving gender separation in her elementary school. Jess was approached by a girl that told her she fit in better with the boys. Jess quickly realized the truth in this statement and decided to play with the boys instead. What I found interesting about this, is that Jess doesn’t mention having to prove herself to these boys that she befriended. She says that they became her lifelong friends from that day on. I preferred the friendship of the boys in my class as well but I didn’t make that switch until high school when my girlfriends got all cliquey and started obsessing over celebrities. I didn’t experience any challenges befriending the boys because of my gender, I felt like I was able to fit in and didn’t have to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. From these stories I can infer that gender discrimination isn’t as simple as the normative narratives we see in our daily lives. Sometimes girls can fit in with boys. Sometimes they fit in better with boys than they do with girls and this becomes normally accepted in that scenario.

The stories we tell ourselves that separate genders are what makes gender discrimination hard to study. Everyone has a different opinion on the roles of women in society and not all of these opinions are discriminatory. So why is gender discrimination the most common view in society? Well I think its because we started from the bottom. In other words, women were once treated simply as mothers and housewives. They couldn’t vote or drive and men were always seen as the higher power. Women have continued to prove themselves throughout the four waves of feminism. We have completely surpassed many gender restrictions that were placed on women thousands of years ago. In the first wave of feminism there were people who believed that women were actually superior to men. Some people believe that men and women are equal and treat them as such. All of these beliefs are still scattered around the globe in different understandings. I believe it is possible for gender equality to one day be the social norm.

Works Cited:

https://jaclynnoll.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/i-can-play-too/

https://kennedyolsonsblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/writing-the-self-4-dance-is-for-girls/

https://nicolespalding.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/writing-the-self-4-fishing/

https://www.pacificu.edu/about/media/four-waves-feminism

https://jessalynsthoughts.wordpress.com/2017/10/24/writing-the-self-4-tomboy/

 

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Writing the Self #4 – Fishing

I had a typical childhood of a girl. I shared a bedroom with my sister and we had many toys that followed the standard of a little girl’s room. My brother got his own room, and his own toys because he was a boy. I think my siblings were my first indication of gender and how our mother explained the concept to us. I never minded these separations, they just felt natural to me.

Mom used to paint my nails, then my sister would go next. My brother would feel left out and so mom would paint only his big toenail, “because Mark is a boy”. This was a small but powerful gesture that gave us kids some insight on the separation between our genders. Our father had some different views on gender that gave us a clearer indication of our role as girls and as boys. In my family, the men would go on hunting and fishing trips while the girls would spend a day shopping, or go to a hotel for a night. As a girl, I was NEVER allowed to attend fishing or hunting trips. My mom would explain “It’s a guy thing” and distract me with a fun “girls only” activity. Being the stubborn red-head that I am, I never gave up on my desire to go fishing with the boys.

An opportunity presented itself when I was in the fifth grade. The family took a trip to Rowans Ravine. Dad spent most of the trip on the water. I asked him every night to wake me up when he left in the morning. He never did. “You looked so peaceful, I didn’t want to disturb you honey”. On the second last day, I took matters into my own hands. I was determined to go fishing with Dad. I climbed out of bed as soon as I saw daylight, quietly, as to not wake my siblings. I wanted it to be just me and Dad. I tiptoed to the table and waited patiently until he woke up. He was quite startled to see me up so early! I played it casual, as though I hadn’t lost hours of sleep in hopes to get to this moment. I could see amusement in his eyes, I was ready to prove myself. We got to the docks around 7am. I was wide awake once the boat started going. I loved riding on the water and the cool air on my face was so refreshing. We stopped on the west side of the lake. There, Dad helped me set up my rod and attached the hook I chose. He explained how to cast from a boat and did a quick demonstration. I caught on quick, recalling the crash coarse he gave me on the shore of Dunnet Regional Park, two years ago. I was quiet. Resisting all urges to chat his ear off. I wanted to prove to him that I could be just like my brother. I caught three decent sized fish that day, and a fair few more that we released. At the end of the day I felt triumph as I walked through the cabin doors. I told my Mom about my productive day as a fisher-woman and tried not to get jealous at the sight of melted ice cream on my sister’s face. To this day, I still enjoy fishing with my Dad. I almost always catch the biggest fish. I know that he loves my company, as long as I leave something for him to catch!

#Treatyedcamp Reflection

Saskatchewan may have made some good progress in Treaty Education. But as Saskatchewan people, we believe that we have a long way to go from here.  The intentions of the Treaties were not clear, and have not been met. The Treaties were perceived in different ways by the different groups of people involved, and they continue to be misinterpreted today. Honoring the settlers is okay because it is an important part of Canadian history; but what does this lead viewers to believe? It leads them to believe that settlers were the first ones here. I loved her humor, it put some ease on the discussion of such a sensitive subject. She stressed the importance of not ignoring someone who is being disrespectful. As teachers, it is our duty to educate and inform people. We need to share knowledge with not just our students, but also parents, and our friends and family. Parents will want to debate you. If you can’t teach the adults, teach the children because they are faster learners and will become our next generation.

The morning sessions I attended were “Rethinking Mathematics” and “Sharing the Classroom – An Interactive Experience to Explore Treaty Promises”. In the Mathematics session, I learned ways to apply Treaty Education to math and science with treaty games and history. One example that stuck with me was the physics and geometrical shape of a tepee. Math is universal between all cultures, it can be translated into all languages throughout history. Session two was really powerful. We took part in the interactive experience on how the treaties played out. The group members took the parts of the Indigenous people. We were forced to move around the room to accommodate the needs of the group leaders. We were made to buy resources and when we didn’t have enough “money”, we had to give up “land” around the room. Until we were condensed in small corners and split far away from our peers. It was very informative to feel what it was like to be on the other end of the Treaties.

I was nervous for the afternoon. Open space conversations seemed very intimidating to me. But I think it was my favorite part of the day! I attended “Why is there a lack of Treaty four representation in public Treaty four spaces?”. We talked about flags, the treaty four flag in particular and why we think it isn’t displayed in public. We explored conversation on representation of the provinces, and what the Canada flag means to us. We also discussed how one flag can be viewed in different ways by different people. My last session was called “Treaty Teachings with Religious (i.e. Christian) confrontations: In what ways could teaching connections to the land, and how that shapes First Nations peoples understandings of the world, be affected by religious communities/schools?” This was my favorite session for the day. We talked about teaching treaty education in Christian schools. We discussed ways to understand parents concerns and also how we can change the way they think. Many of the people in this group were currently interning in Christian schools and it was really cool to hear their experiences so far.
Overall, I was so impressed with the events of Treaty Ed Camp and I am looking forward to next year!

What it Means to be White in Canada. “White Fragility”

This article highlights the topic of white fragility and examines the ties with structural and systematic racism. We know that racism goes beyond willful ignorance and has evolved into the discriminatory society that we are so familiar with. Racism is everywhere, in schools, in politics, in the work place, and even in our homes. Most people still believe that racism is an individual act of ignorance, and will get defensive while learning the new meaning. White privilege is something that white people have the privilege of overlooking. White people get uncomfortable or defensive when they hear the word “white” or god forbid, the word “racist”. White people have not done anything to earn the entitlement they are presented with and tend to feel guilty when opening their eyes to the truth. Its hard to understand the reasons behind this entitlement, and it has proved very easy to mindlessly disregard. People are afraid of the terms “White Privilege” and “White Supremacy” because they aren’t familiar with the definitions and they haven’t been given the facts. Although once you have been informed, its very hard to un-see the affects they have on the world. The fear of these terms is exactly what is holding us back. For a white person, its easier to avoid these feelings than to face them. To face the facts and own up to the entitlement we have is a very important step in working past “White Fragility”.

Afternoon at the Mall

Today we are walking slowly through the mall. My mom only navigates my sister’s stroller through the crowds when we are in a hurry. Today is not one of those days. We are killing time before our dentist appointments. I enjoy looking at all the window displays and at all the people. Since the mall is busy, I’m careful to hold tightly onto the stroller as we walk. Mom has warned us many times about getting lost and not talking to strangers. My little brother is braver than I am. He’s walking in circles around us. I watch people as we walk by them. I see old people and young people. Some with disabilities and some with large birthmarks on their face. Mom quietly reminds me not to stare at these people, because it might hurt their feelings. As we cross through the food court, I notice many different smells. There is lots of noise coming from the tables. I see other kids my age and even some babies which I love! We walk by a table where a Chinese couple are sitting. I look at their baby first, then at their food. It looks different than something I would like to eat. I hurry to catch up to mom again. She takes my hand as we walk by that man who dresses funny, this isn’t the first time we have seen him at the mall. He’s the one that mumbles to himself and I feel my moms hand hold a little tighter onto mine. Before we get close to him, Mom reminds me not to stare, as it isn’t polite. I do as I’m told by looking at the floor. I notice that the man isn’t wearing any shoes and ask my mom why that is. She explains to me that some people don’t have shoes to wear. As we get closer to the exit, I see an African American man coming through the door. I look at him not because I’m afraid, but because he looks different than me and my family. Mom reminds me not to stare again so I do not hurt this mans feelings.

Birthday Cake in the Sprayer

It was June 6, 2016, my nineteenth birthday. My dad brought home a cake from Regina, and my mom made us sit at the table for supper. Since it didn’t rain that day, my boyfriend Colby was spraying just north of town. After supper, I boxed up two slices of my cake and took it out to the field. Most crops were just starting to come up now so everywhere I looked was green.

When I arrived, I could see that Dave, Colby’s Grandpa, was waiting with the water truck. He wished me a Happy Birthday and asked me about my new job. I was working at Crop Production Services for the summer and I loved it.  Colby pulled up in the sprayer then, and Dave wandered over to help him fill the tank with water. I stood by the truck and my phone started ringing. I answered and heard Colby’s Grandma. She asked me what I did for my birthday and I talked to her until Colby and Dave got the sprayer ready to go again. I wandered over and climbed up into the sprayer. When Colby started to drive I took a deep breath. This place is where I feel most relaxed. I could ride in the field with him all day. Colby is the best listener. I handed him a piece of cake and told him all about my day at work and my family supper. He promised me that on the next day it rains, he would take me out for a birthday supper date. I would take this over a real date any day, but I appreciated the gesture so we made it a plan. I thought to myself that eating my birthday cake in the sprayer could be a new tradition for us and it made me feel like a true Saskatchewan farm girl.

As the sun set that evening, I watched bugs swarm around the exterior lights. I was starting to feel tired, but I didn’t want to go home. I wish I could spend every day in the field with my love, my best friend.

Grandmas Kitchen

Its on a chilly December morning that I walk into my Grandmas kitchen. I don’t know how many days I’ve been here, but I know I don’t have to go home until after Christmas. Classic country is playing gently in the background. I wonder silently if that radio ever gets turned off. Grandma is sitting at her computer desk playing her PC crossword game. I can smell the cigarette burning between her fingers.

Today we plan to make Christmas sugar cookies. Just one batch today, we will make another when the rest of the family gets here. I see that Grandma has most of the ingredients out on the counter already. She prepared everything before I woke up. I grab myself a chair and push it to the counter so I can help. We get started right away. I know I could make this recipe all by myself, if my arm was stronger. I mix and mix until it gets sore. I spilled a little from the bowl but my Grandmas quick hands sweep it up and throw it back in. Then she takes over with the mixing. We have been chatting since I came upstairs. Our conversations are never very significant. We just like to talk. We explore topics everywhere from her childhood to my future. My Grandma knows more about me than anyone else.

Once our dough is finished, we take it to the table and roll it out. I like to do the rolling. “don’t roll it too thin now, that should be enough” she reminds me. She brings me some cookie cutters. Grandma takes each tray to the oven and sets the timer. We make the perfect team. Once the last cookie is cut we begin to clean up. She loads the dishwasher and I wash the table and counters. I busy myself with a craft while my Grandma takes a nap. We mix up some icing and decorate a few dozen cookies that afternoon. Its still early, so I put on my winter clothes and go outside to play. I see my Grandpa sitting at his desk through the window if his shop. I wave to him. He waves back. I start to make a snowman. My Grandma, sitting on the deck with a cigarette, suggests that turn it towards Grandpas window. That way, he can look at it all winter. So I do just that. She helps me find a scarf and little stones to make a face.

 Before I know it, its supper time. My Grandpa comes inside to eat with us. He wanders into the kitchen and I wrap my arms around him. “Well if it isn’t my favorite little red head, what did you girls do today?” he asks. I begin to tell him all about our day. Grandma reminds me to lower my voice since I tend to talk loud and fast when I get excited. My Grandpa is a very brilliant but sometimes grumpy old man. He doesn’t like noise. He listens intently as he lowers himself into his spot at the table. Grandma sets a hot bowl of cabbage rolls in front of him and turns around to warm up mine. Once we are all seated, we begin to eat. The cabbage rolls are very hot, but they taste magnificent. Grandpa thanks me for the snowman and compliments my work. “You are very creative, just like your Grandma”. I see them smile at each other.

Supper is over now and my Grandma asks me to get our dessert. I go to the counter and pick three cookies from the Tupperware container. Two of them are iced; mine is the biggest, and one is plain. Grandpa doesn’t like icing on his sugar cookies so we always leave one tray plain for him. I devour my sugar cookie and ask if I may have another. My Grandma smiles. “How you stay so small, I will never know”. I take that as a yes and grab myself one more.

As my grandma tucks me into bed that night, I close my eyes and reflect, on a perfect day.