Should ‘Fireman Sam’ become ‘Firefighter Sam’ ?

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

I’m discussing Ann Millington, chief executive of Kent Fire & Rescue’s suggestion that the children’s TV character Fireman Sam should be renamed ‘Firefighter Sam’ on BBC Radio Kent

It strikes me as a good idea – what do you think?

I think all programming should be diversified, for the benefit of all children, whatever their gender.

When you ‘Pause to Ponder’ you’ll start to notice that gender stereotyping continues to be reinforced “every hour of every day” online, on television and in games, songs and books.

If we aren’t aware of how we speak and pass down our messages then we often perpetuate the same messages, as gender stereotyping continues to be reinforced in our homes and classrooms.

It works both ways just think of the ‘Coke’ advert. You can have a look at outrageous adverts here from back in the day that will make your toes curl!

Take a look….

From Diet Coke’s shirtless fella to scrub-happy housewives – the sexist ads that would be banned today

The Advertising Standards Authority will ban adverts that body shame, objectify or sexualise either men or women – like this little lot… here

 

But we have to ‘Talk & Teach’ our boys too, because when you see male ads for power protein products and using impossibly muscled enormous men with no shirts on, we need to say ‘Hey, this is not what every man in the world looks like’ & that’s OK!

The way to start is just by noticing and then just by asking our kids:

‘Do you think all men look like that?’

‘Is it OK for boys to talk about how they feel?’

‘Is it OK for boys to cry?’

Make sure you are not reinforcing traditional gender roles. Girls can take out the bins, and boys can do dishes – well they certainly do in my house!

Let both boys and girls know it’s OK to express and discuss their feelings and emotions and to cry when they are sad.

Take advantage of teaching moments, such as when a child says a girl can’t play with the boys because it’s a “boy’s game” – tell them to get stuck into the football, cricket or whatever game everyone’s playing. Pop on women playing golf, football or charging down on bobsleighs on your TV.

Never stereotype children’s traits such as boys are loud and noisy, boisterous and tough – girls are calm and sweet, kind & passive and call out relatives and teachers who do so too.

Check out this fabulous website called A Mighty Girl’ https://www.amightygirl.com/

It’s the world’s largest collection of books and films for smart, confident, and courageous girls.

Notice your own interactions with your boys and girls, and comfort a boy as you would a girl if they are sad or unhappy.

Point to role models

Another way to really smash gender stereotypes is to discuss traditional male and female employment roles and show your kids the opposite, such as a woman who’s a firefighter or a man who’s a nurse.

Talk with your kids about everyday heroes, such as the teacher down the street, male or female, and talk about what he or she is doing to raise and educate children, or the firefighters, police officers, nurses and doctors in your neighbourhood & community. Use these real people as role models because then we can start describing boys and girls differently.

This is not about being bolshie or aggressive, for me it’s about talking and teaching our children that women are of equal standing as their male counterparts – no glass ceilings, limiting beliefs or  discrimination.

Just for this week notice your language and think about it, because girls still hear that girls are pretty, polite & kind & they like mermaids and unicorns – and boys still hear that they are strong and boisterous and they like aliens, monsters and fighting. So, we have to be careful about that, but then we have to challenge it that perception.

Once you see gender stereotyping in society, you can’t unsee it. So from day one, how about just being mindful that your daughters and sons can play with toys and books where girls and boys are heroes and have adventures and why not just be mindful when selecting clothing for girls and boys that doesn’t sync up with what society dictates?

 

 

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