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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Girls vs. boys

I would have to say that the part of my work that I enjoy the most is that I get to observe people every single day – I get to observe single people, married people, divorced people, straight people, gay people, families, split families, children, teens – you name it, I get to see them all. And one of the recent observations I have had is the emphasis on young boys sport.

For any parent of a child aged 6-12 years, they are likely to be familiar with the concept of Saturday sport. Whether it is a private school requirement or a choice to play netball or in this case football with a local team, many a parent spends Saturday and even part of Sunday crunched up in their 4 wheel drive, or other family friendly car dragging kids off to various sporting games all over Sydney. (Non-family people take note; this is the best time to avoid Sydney roads at all costs).

Now, I notice that while Dads are all too happy to drag the male members of the family off to junior AFL, soccer and league, it is far more likely to see a little girl being dragged to watch Felix or Oscar kick a ball around, than it is to see Felix or Oscar going to see Maddie play netball or soccer.

What is it about male sports, even when males are just 6 or 7 years old that attracts such attention? To me, as an outsider it seems ridiculous that such important family time is dictated to by compulsory sport altogether, but the fact that many, many more people seem to attend rugby league at Birchgrove on a Sunday morning than can be seen at the local girls soccer game up the road is not by chance. It is at this point, so early in a child’s life that we teach Felix and Oscar that their game is more important. And by dragging Maddie down there to spend hours chatting to her girlfriends while watching her brother play, we teach her that her brother is more important than she is.

It seems such as simple thing – sport is on and kids have to go. Mum is not that interested so Dad gets the gig and Dad skews his energy and attention to the young yet still testosterone driven male sport. Little girls learn that brother grabs Dads attention more than she does, brother’s sport is the most important thing and the best thing she can do is keep quiet until the game is over. Is it at this point that all women learn to sit patiently and wait for their men while they drink, play sport, work whatever – when are they waiting for us?

I am not a mother yet, but I hope to be sometime soon. And I can confirm this now, that not only will my Oscar or Felix be watching Maddie but I hope that many more of their friends will be too because I would never want my daughter to ever think that her brother, just because he is a boy, is more important than she is.