Girlish and boyish

I hate to use the Daily Mail as a source, but every now and then I do. This story on Saturday reports that an organization called Gendered Intelligence runs workshops in a few primary schools in the UK. Very few – the Mail says “up to 20” schools a year get the workshops. Well 20 is a tiny number. Minuscule. The issue I have isn’t with the quantity but with the content.

In one class, Year Six boys at Hotspur Primary in Newcastle are asked to describe the ‘girlish’ things they like to do, while the girls say what ‘boyish’ pursuits they enjoy.

Gendered Intelligence’s founder Jay Stewart, who is giving the class, asks the pupils if they think ‘life will be hard at school if you’re a boy at school who likes doing “girlish things”?’

See that’s what’s fucked up about this – all this god damn sorting. All this artificial monopolization. Girls don’t have a monopoly on dolls, and boys don’t have a monopoly on adventure games.

Margaret Morrissey, of pressure group Parents Outloud, said four and five-year-olds were ‘far, far too young’ to receive the lessons. She added: ‘We’re in danger of frightening children and making them feel they ought to feel like this.’

Mr Stewart said: ‘It’s so important to be teaching children in schools that they can be anything that they want regardless of the gender that they have been given at birth.

‘Gendered Intelligence delivers age-appropriate workshops and assemblies by working closely with the senior leadership teams of each of the schools we work with. We are proud of this work and feedback is always incredibly positive.’

But does it? Does it teach them they can be anything that they want regardless of their sex? Or does it teach them they have to switch to a different sex if they like the “wrong” things for their own sex?

The title – Gendered Intelligence – is not very encouraging.

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