My 12-year old daughter came home the other day and animatedly declared that “It’s incredible, every time I try to talk to people about equality, they just don’t care! It seems they think it’s not important at all.”
Now, she’s been raised in a household where equality issues come on the table together with the breakfast milk, so for her it was totally incomprehensible that her friends just weren’t that interested.
While she was at it, she had even challenged her teacher (who is, for the record, a very talented professional) by asking why we in Swedish use the word människa, when we refer to humans. Why don’t we say kvinniska instead (the Swedish words for man and woman are man and kvinna). Her teacher had not given her an answer, which she found very frustrating.
I can sympathize with her poor teacher. It is a tough question – even if you had time to think about the answer, which she probably didn’t. Still, I can’t help but feel she could have chosen to return to the issue later. When trying to raise equality-minded individuals, opportunities like these are golden. She could have asked her pupils why indeed the word for human in Swedish is based on the word man alone? And they could have gone on discussing English, which is even worse: both woman and human originate from the word man.
You see, I think questioning the norm really is key. If no one had ever asked these tricky questions, women might still be without the vote and stuck between stove and kitchen sink.
So I’ll keep encouraging my children to ask – but at the same time I have to explain to them that standing at the forefront of anything means you’ll end up tackling many blows – and facing a lot of quiet people, who just don’t want to see what you’re seeing.