One Teacher's Glim Reflections
by Rebecca Lynn Flaherty
Gather round, ye children, and I will teach you how male privilege is taught to us when we are young.
So the other day, I'm working at a summer camp -- we've taken our kids to a park where several other camps happen to be playing that day. One of them is the Boys and Girls club. Our group is having lunch while the B&G club is on the merry-go-round. There are too many kids for it to be safe, so the (male) counselor says, "Alright, everyone wearing blue hop off! You'll have your turn next!" The kids all take a moment to check their own clothing, and then about seven of them hop off... all girls. There are about five kids on the merry-go-round that are wearing blue... all boys. The counselor gets ready to push the merry-go-round when one of the girls who'd just gotten off says, "Hey! He's wearing blue!" And another girl shouts, "So is he!" By now, everyone has noticed the remaining blue-clad-lads and is pointing them out to the counselor.
The counselor proceeds to push the merry-go-round anyway. When he's done, everyone wearing blue is allowed back on. The blue-clad-lads who'd already had one turn took another.
Now, there are three explanations for that counselors behavior.
He knew the boys were there, he didn't care.
He didn't know the boys were there. Unlikely with all the kids shouting and pointing them out to him.
He knew the boys were there, he heard the other kids pointing them out, he had a history of getting into power struggles with those boys and decided that, since he'd achieved his goal of getting some kids off the merry-go-round, he didn't want to pick a fight in that particular moment.
Whatever his motivations, all the kids in the surrounding area learned a very valuable lesson that day. If you're female, you have to follow the rules. You probably won't be rewarded for it. If you're male, you can do whatever the hell you want, and if someone (especially girls) point out your mistakes, don't take responsibility. You'll still get rewarded.
I tell this story to you all so that (hopefully) you can look back at your own lives and identify these formative moments for yourselves. Something seemingly mundane can have a profound impact.
Rebecca Lynn Flaherty
Passions: Middle-school teacher, actress, writer.