Sugar and spice?
I remember as a small child going to a hairdresser to have my curly locks cut (for those of whom know me.. yes, I once had hair and quite a lot of it too). Nothing amazing I know but I recall the visit vividly because I recollect the girls working there saying (something like);
“Girls are made from sugar and spice and all things nice, and boys are created from snails and puppy dogs tails”
Okay, you might be able to quote the said line more accurate than I, but I knew at the time it not only made any sense (based on the few girls I knew) but it just felt like an injustice to measure boys as a negative image when the girls were painted with such niceties.
Although the quote didn’t burn deep within me it was a cause for comparison mainly through my youthful years.
As I write this I recall the viciousness of girls not only to boys but to each other. You see, the issue as I saw it was that as a boy if I had a problem with another boy we either had a fight or just said something and (often) it was nipped in the bud. This was also the case with the boys I used to teach when I was a teacher. Now let me make this clear I am not advocating violence as a resolution to problems (far from it) but it was far more civilised and short lived from what I witnessed from girls.
As a child at school I witnessed the wickedness of how evil girls could be to other girls with psychological weapons. And if that didn’t work they then resorted to physical measures that contained no rules. For example, as a school kid there was an unwritten rule that you did not kick someone when they were down, and you did not pull hair. Yet, time and again I had witnessed girls breaking these rules repeatedly at the back of the school bus heading home.
Physical and psychological
Like I have previously stated in previous blogs the psychological aspect of abuse far outreached anything physical. To explain this further, my adopted mother often used the cane on my back or the back of my legs and buttocks. Although I can recall the stinging pain it soon past and it was eventually forgotten about. In fact, as I write this I think it hardened me up and made me the ‘tough guy’ I became when I joined the forces at 16. Yet, the psychological abuse I received from my ex-partner still resonates now. I still have issues with body image and self-value – in fact I have very little, if any.
Yet, many of the boys I fought against have grown up to be good men. They are what I would consider to be friends and I would offer my help if they should ever require it.
Even during my school days I was sometimes hit by teachers who considered it to be okay and acceptable. Yet not once did a teacher hit a girl for the same offences. Whichever way you look at it, it was acceptable for teachers to assault on basis of gender. but gender had no relevance to mishaps or delinquency within the classroom. This enforcement of gender stereotypes was imposed within the supposed safety of an educational establishment. It was an utter contradiction to what education should have been about.
And yet, a generation passes and not a lot has changed. As a teacher, as previously stated, I had witnessed the effects of girl bullying. If their mental tactics did not break their victim then they would resort to bringing in allies such as other girls and boys to all target and alienate the victim. If that still failed to break the victim physical pains were introduced. Furthermore, and I was shocked by this, parents and family members became involved.
Since researching for this blog I have been informed that for many girls being in a gang is a form of protection. It was also brought to my attention that for some girls they felt compelled to either join in or take a step back as this took the focus away from them. In effect, for these girls they took the view that although it was bad they also felt that as long as they were picking on ‘them’ they were not picking on ‘me’. This of course would or may cause a lifetime of regret and guilt. Now I know that this is not a scientific finding but it is certainly food for thought.
To make a comparison I started at a new school when I was about 8 years old. It didn’t really come as a shock at the time, but I came into contact with (I suppose) bullies who were trying to establish some form of pecking order and wished for me to be at the bottom of it. Well it didn’t happen. I recall now punching the biggest boy clearly in the face and he ran away. Of course, I worried about it at the time but by break time I consider boundaries had been made and we were kicking a football around the playground. Even now, as an adult I have supported this boy/man in his recent break-up. I consider him a good friend. In fact, we still chuckle about it now and are often embarrassed that it ever happened at all.
Yet, and I have mentioned it in other blogs, that I know of girls I went to school with that are still suffering today. And we are all in our 40s now.
So what has change?
Well, if boys had a fight fists were used. However, today it is knives. This is not progress. It is barbaric and needs to be addressed forthwith.
But for some reason girls have found and discovered the power of social media. Who in a so called civilised society sees fit to film abuse of another and consider it ok to stick it on the internet for the whole world to see? This abuse for the victim will perpetuate for ever. There is no ending or conclusion to the assaults. I can also argue that these films show no evidence of any bystanders trying to stop the actions of the abuser (hence in my mind they are equally culpable).
So does the adage of ‘sugar and spice’ still apply?
According to Safer Schools research project (Friday, March 16, 2018) [http://www.keystosaferschools.com/anger-2/girl-violence] 1 out of 4 violent episodes are being perpetrated by teen girls. This is up from just a generation ago when it was 1 girl -10 boys. Therefore, it can be seen that girl violence is increasing from 1-10 and is now 1 out of every 4 violent episodes involves girls carrying it out. According to the Justice Department, it is not just boys any longer, violence among girls is on the rise.
Schools also report a similar pattern in the number of girls suspended or expelled for fighting. Around the country schools, police and teachers are seeing a growing tendency for girls to settle disputes with their fists. They are finding themselves breaking up playground fights in which girls are going at each other at an alarming rate.
Although an American research council (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2003) carried out a review it still holds relevance to the English market. There appears to be evidence that we are seeing a change in girls’ violence, if one reviews trends in juvenile arrests. Between 1992 and 2003, girls’ arrests increased 6.4 percent while arrests of boys actually decreased by 16.4 percent. While decreases were seen across many crimes of violence for both boys and girls, the period saw a 7 percent increase in girls’ arrests for aggravated assault during a period that showed a 29.1 percent decrease in boys’ arrests for this offense. Likewise, arrests of girls for assault climbed an astonishing 40.9 percent when boys’ arrests climbed by only 4.3 percent
I would consider that although data has consistently shown that girls are now more engaged in violence than arrest statistics are indicating. I also consider that there was time when the police simply did not arrest girls for this behaviour, but that has now changed, due to policy shifts in enforcement.
A problem? Really?
In the past I witnessed teachers dismissing girls violence as being unrecognisable. For some people in authority it was easier to dismiss than to address the problem. As a result, careful analysis of trends in girls’ violence has failed to confirm that we face a dramatic increase in this troubling behaviour.
Girls to women.
There was an article written during the 1990s (I cannot recall where I read it) but it discussed the rise of the ‘Ladette’ culture. This branch of feminism (if you like) mirrored itself on male role models. It was expected to be able to drink, fight and even dress like men. I must admit it was an exciting time – new music genres were created, and an appreciation of genders was increased. It was also a reaction against the idea of ‘women being the weaker sex’. By rejecting this concept the idea of sugar and spice was also shelved and forgotten. Yet boys were considered and accepted to be the troublesome sex. The gender of violence and lacking empathy for anything other than themselves.
Out on the town.
Sometimes working for the emergency services exposes you to the underbelly of society. Of course, I have attended a range of murders, assaults, suicided and so on. In fact, it has become the norm and so I consider that in some cases I have become immune to it all. However, I have not come to accept the states idea that women are not violent and have no part in violent assaults.
I often dread, like so many others, working over pay day weekend. It will not only be busy with regards to drink related injuries etc but I have seen and witnessed the violence carried out by women on both men and women. I have witnessed men being punched in the face by a woman and people will just walk by whilst the man tends to his bloody nose. I have also witnessed the damage of a women having half of her hair pulled out. Yet, still society is surprised and shocked by the revelation that women are violent in their own homes. And the police still insist on removing the man from the home of which he was the victim.
These actions, by not stopping the assault on the man or keeping her in the home of which she abused in has endorsed and imposed the idea of the woman being the gentler sex. Sugar and spice I suppose. Whereas the man has to live with the snails and puppy dogs tails when he is homeless because the state does not recognise his victim status.
Tender enough to be a father
I will say here and now that I love being a father. For me it has been a privilege. It has been hard but more rewarding than not. This view is nothing new as I know so many other men/fathers feel the same.
From the outset it was a wonderful feeling to wake in the night and feed my children or change a nappy. I also saw it as my duty to make the feeds and to walk my children to the shops or the park. As a strong believer in education I would read books to my children as soon as they understood the concept of a book.
Yet, in an instant you are seen as unfit, violent, aggressive and not fit to be a father once the mother thinks she can use this her trump card. All of your input, affections and love are meaningless and dismissed in the face of hostility. And yet, it is a common fact that children who are brought up without a father’s input often grow up to be troubled, problematic and sometimes criminal. So how does the gentler sex address this? They don’t and furthermore, they feel they don’t need to.
Men are idiots, but not all idiots are men.
Back in July 2017 I wrote a blog called ‘men are idiots, but not all idiots are men’. Within this text I argued that men really need to take a leaf out of women’s’ books. Men are very poor at sharing their feelings and hurts unlike women. Women have been able to develop communities of support whereby men just carry on until something gives. Usually their health and ultimately their lives.
My observations had found that men are rubbish at; taking medications and equally poor at admitting any form of medical conditions (especially depression and anxiety – men are not allowed to have depression vis-à-vis to be seen as weak). Furthermore, men are also lacking in admitting problems at home and even worse at realising that we are victims of domestic abuse.
But here I am going to make a revelation. Girls need to learn from boys. Boys with their snails and puppy dog tails know our place. Yet we do not venture out to linger misery on our male associates. If we have a problem we just deal with it – and it’s sorted.
From the outset boys are taught that it is wrong to abuse and as they grow up they are taught not to gender stereotype and feel compelled to play an active role within family life – this is an active role from that of our fathers who considered that men work and women stay at home with the kids (afterall, women work now too).
Our daughters are precious… and so are our sons
Girls can also learn that spite is evil and the use of their gender to get their way is utterly immoral. This is a lesson boys can teach our daughters as they are equally precious whether as a girl or a woman. The protection of our sons is as important as the protection and safe keeping of our daughters. Thus, our daughters need the same education that violence whether physical or emotional is wrong especially in womanhood.