Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Collingwood is for girls

I felt a bit guilty on Saturday that I didn't have any inspiration for an AFL Grand Final-themed post, but evidently I should have realised that this was a premonition, given the game was drawn and will be replayed next week. And I am grateful for a bit of breathing space to think about whether I had something to say on the topic!

Before I moved to Melbourne, I wasn't a big AFL fan- and I'm still not- and I didn't realise how big a deal the Grand Final is in the home city of AFL. Even for those like me who don't seriously follow during the regular season, it's hard to avoid Grand Final week- the stats, the allegiances, the peripheral events, the predictions, the personal stories that occupy the first few pages of the newspapers. When it's two Melbourne teams, even the least interested Melbournian is compelled to back a team. And this year the choice was between Collingwood, the team everyone loves to hate, and St Kilda, the team that hasn't won since 1966. It was a perfect mix for an exciting leadup to the game.

We watched the Grand Final with friends, as we do most years, so in preparation on Saturday morning I pointed out supporters of both teams to Big Bro. "I know" he told me, "we painted their jumpers at kindy." Then he added, "Julia says Collingwood is for girls. Just girls." My eyebrows raised and I tried not to smirk. "Does Julia like Collingwood?" "Oh yes, that's her team." Surprise, surprise.

Dear little Julia. She's a very cute little kid with a cherubic round face framed by long blonde hair. She is one of Big Bro's Best Friends ForEVER, and evidently also his wisest friend judging by how many of her pronouncements he passes on to me.

"Julia says boys can't have pink" (and purple when Julia is being especially picky)
"Julia says only girls can like flowers or butterflies"
"Julia says that boys can't be pretty"
"I wish I could be a girl: Julia says only girls......"

I seem to spend an inordinate amount of energy refuting Julia's assertions. "Look at that man- he's wearing a pink shirt", "Look at that man on tv growing flowers".... I should just ignore it, but something about it really irks me- I think it's that I can see Julia as a product of so many gender stereotypes that, as the mother of two boys, really irritate me.

Clothes shops with three quarters of the shop devoted to girls, clearly by the pink, lace, flowers, and more pink. (When I was growing up, only prissy girls wore pink.) And boys seem to need skulls and crossbones, graffiti and punk rock guitar decorations.
Toys clearly branded for boys or girls- pink racetracks, pink lego, and the apparently obligatory fairy costumes. And even worse, the branding of books for boys or girls.
Comments like "girls sleep better (or insert other positive attributes)", "girls stay close to their mothers, boys don't."
Slogans on clothes like "little princess", "I love buying shoes", "spoilt rotten".

Of course there are gender differences, but I am sure the stereotypes are played up so much more these days that when I was growing up. And I guess Julia is just observant enough top notice them- and assertive enough to let Big Bro know what she's noticed.

For the record, during the game Big Bro accepted his host's invitation to dress up, and then engaged in a bit of drilling and chopping.
And I concluded that if Collingwood is for girls, then St Kilda must be for boys, and that was just another reason to cheer them on.

1 comment:

Veronica said...

It would be nice to have less 'set' gender stereotypes. I've got no idea how I'm going to cope when my daughter starts school and the inevitable 'girls can't, boys can't' begins.

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