In which I lose faith (which arguably never existed) in the GSA
Jill Berry, president of the Girls' School Association (GSA), has been popping up in the press recently with some quite alarming, and sometimes contradictory, notions.
Commenting on feminism and fashion and the recent story about Cambridge female undergrads' scantily clad photos, Berry commented that:
"Girls can be highly intelligent and interested in being seen to be attractive – the two aren't mutually exclusive"
For starters, not really a problem. Perhaps the idea of 'being seen to be attractive' is problematic (to me this suggest pampering to the rest of society's/men's version of what this means) but I do support the move away from the 'blonde-bimbo' vs 'ugly geek' dichotomy.
And then Berry claims:
"We must resist the impulse to judge women, to judge them harshly and judge them narrowly"
Lovely. Again, an idea I can get my head around.
But then when an article in The Guardian titled Girls should be 'realistic' about careers and motherhood – schools group head appears, the plot thickens...
Teenage girls need to be taught a heavy dose of realism – that it may not be possible to be a perfect mother and a career woman, the president of the Girls' Schools Association (GSA) will say next week.
Berry is now implying that girls need to be realistic about their futures. That there is 'nothing wrong' with mothers not working once they have children. Firstly, what kind of empowering message is that to young women? That they can be all they want to be but will have to re-think all that once they think about starting a family? Why are we telling girls to be 'realistic'? Why are we accepting that as the reality that women are often placed into positions in which they are pushed back into the private sphere once they give birth? Instead of telling the generation of tomorrow to wise-up about the way the world is, how about educating them on how to change that world?
And you know that what lies beneath this is a discourse of 'bad working mothers'. Considering we weren't meant to be judging women for their choices Berry...
Links to the two articles:
Fashion not a betrayal of feminist ideals
Girls should be realistic about motherhood and careers