Feed Your Fem: Childhood

19th February 2014

Feed Your Fem: Childhood

Feed Your Fem is a biweekly podcast created by UoN Feminists in partnership with URN. The podcast is a creative outlet for our combined membership, and serves as an introduction for students unfamiliar with feminism.

In our first meeting of around 20 feminists, we discussed a myriad of topics key to contemporary feminism and debated how best to fit them all in. The main aim for our podcast is that it should be interesting; it will be the greatest reward if we make our audience learn, laugh and consider topics they can identify with but never thought of before in a feminist context. Within these themes we hope to tackle at least one major issue in feminism, therefore in the Childhood episode we discuss gendered toys and Disney but we also look at boundaries, sexualisation and rape culture. Future episodes, though their title may seem innocuous will include trans* feminism and life, sexual harassment, FGM and misogyny online. We may omit subjects that many would regard as salient, as we are inevitably constrained by time and feasibility, without the best quality of discussion or expert interviews we would not be able to give certain topics adequate justice.

We chose to begin with Childhood as a good introduction for our listeners. Our discussion of gendered toys follows a debate in Parliament on the gender-specific marketing of toys. Studies and campaigns against the effects of gender specific toys are criticised for being ‘interfering busybodies’, however the parliamentary debate concluded that change would not include the mandatory purchasing of cookery sets for boys and engineering sets for girls, but rather letting children and parents have greater freedom of choice, without external pressures. Gendered toys are an issue of social justice and of economic competitiveness: the UK has currently the lowest number of female engineers in Europe and the gender gap is a major barrier to addressing the skills shortages in the sector.

The trickle-down effect of ingrained gender roles is also reflected in the playground. Our podcast features a story and the subsequent disingenuous news coverage of a 6 year old boy in Colorado who was suspended from school after repeated incidents of forcibly kissing and ‘rough housing’ a girl in his class. These actions were classed as sexual harassment and certainly amount to bullying, kiss-chase and similar games are inappropriate when they happen under duress. Pupils as young as 6 years old at Coed-y-Brain primary school in Wales were reprimanded for playing games simulating rape and sexual intercourse. Similarly at Stanford Junior School in Brighton children playing a form of chase called it ‘the raping game’. Such games continue into adulthood, Durham University Rugby team were overheard playing a drinking game called ‘It’s not rape if…’, which both trivialised the act of rape and encouraged rape culture.

Our intention for the podcast’s first episode was to conduct a general investigation into the everyday commodification and sexualisation of childhood from a feminist perspective and we believe we have achieved that. We hope that you enjoy our podcast and will continue to listen. Leave any comments you have below and continue the debate!

We would like to thank the staff of The University of Nottingham that have supported us so far, by agreeing to be interviewed or getting the word out to other academics.

Related links:

http://www.historyextra.com/blog/great-misconception
http://www.womenyoushouldknow.net/little-girl-1981-lego-ad-grown-shes-got-something-say/
http://www.lettoysbetoys.org.uk/parliamentary-debate-on-toys-and-gender/
http://www.theguardian.com/education/2008/dec/16/play
http://msmagazine.com/blog/2013/06/05/kids-toys-more-gendered-than-ever/

http://ladydanger7.tumblr.com/post/47730172038/what-little-girls-are-made-of-how-social


http://www.naeyc.org/content/what-research-says-gender-typed-toys
http://feminspire.com/mulan-teaches-us-to-be-a-man-until-you-have-to-be-a-woman/
http://feministdisney.tumblr.com
http://imaginetoday.net/2009/04/22/disney-princesses-dissapearing-wasitlines/