It was nativity play week again. And following in a fine and noble family tradition, Boy Three was the second cow at the stable. A role he played with style and panache.
|Udderly brilliant performance
Over the years he and his brothers have variously been sheep, goats and even robins. It’s important to celebrate the birth of Christ by dressing up as an animal, apparently. And the other years they wore their dressing gowns and tea towels with great aplomb. It’s traditional.
But there are some other less jolly traditions at play here.
The thing none of the boys have ever been is an angel or a star. Boy One did achieve the lofty heights of a villager with a speaking part, but he never made it to celestial being.
Watching this year’s show, I was struck by the thought that no matter how twinkly his performance none of my sons was ever going to be cast as a star or an angel.
Charming as the nativity was there was something sexist in this view of Bethlehem. The boys were shepherds, animals and wise men while their female classmates were stars and angels. No exceptions.
It does seem like the most ungrateful and minor of moans, what with the school being, in the main, a terrific and nurturing place. But….
Surely these little ones shouldn’t be absorbing this subtle sexism at this stage – they’ve got years and years for that. The five and six year olds need to be cast entirely at random not being cloven-hooved if they’re male and pretty and sparkly if they’re female.
Since my school days there have been enormous changes in attitude to sexuality and race. Brought about by effort and care on many fronts. Why not gender then? Lip service isn’t good enough. Telling little girls they can be engine drivers and boys they can be nurses if they want is so last century. We must all be on our guard against sneaky little acts of sexism – at home and school.