Before I made it as a writer, I taught French at a boys’ school. I often found myself having to explain to the boys the concept of gender.
Why is la table female, they would ask? How can a table have a sex?
Well, of course, it doesn’t. La table is an object; sexless; and its gender is not female, but feminine.
The difference is more than just semantics. Feminine in language implies many things; a soft ending to the word; a certain kind of aesthetic. But it is no indicator of sex: a man may sometimes be feminine, although he is not female. A women may be female, without being very feminine.
I started to think about the difference the other day, after reading the following article.
In it, Helen Grant, our minister for sports, equalities and tourism, is quoted as suggesting that, in order to encourage girls to play sports, we should offer them what they really want; that is; “feminine” sports, like dance, skating and cheerleading.
Putting aside for a moment the annoyance I feel at being told what I really want by a politician, there are a number of things terribly wrong with this.
1. By labelling these activities “feminine”, her comment is likely to stigmatize boys who choose to explore them.
2. By suggesting that traditional sports are not feminine, she is effectively normalizing the abuse given to sportswomen like Beth Tweddle, implying that they deserve abuse for refusing to conform to a stereotype.
3. Cheerleading, though it can be demanding, is not a sport. It is an activity designed to enhance the performance of sportsmen, for the enjoyment of (mostly male) spectators.
So, why do some people still feel that some sports are unfeminine?
(a) Because they make you sweat.
So does sex. And yet, it retains its popularity.
(b) Because you might get injured. (And girls, as we know, don’t play rough.)
Well, perhaps they should. With rape and rape culture on the increase, perhaps girls ought to start thinking more about learning to play rough for a change.
(c) Because you might get biceps, or bulging abs, or have to cut your hair off, or do something else that interferes with the (mostly male) stereotype of the woman as a delicate, frail, childlike creature, barely able to stand without help.
Everyone has to grow up one day. A woman’s body is nothing to fear (unless you are a paedophile). There’s nothing unattractive about being fit and strong. Only a weak man is afraid of strong women.
So, Ms Grant, don’t speak for me.
I was the girl who wanted to play football, but always got to play rounders instead.
I was the girl who did ballet because my mother thought it would improve my posture, but turned out to be so bad at it that it ruined my body confidence for years.
I was the girl who was laughed at in junior school for fighting in the playground.
I was the girl, who when she was attacked one night, in the street, aged seventeen, by three young men, knocked one of them to the ground and sent the other two running.
I sweat. I dance. I run. I fight. I don’t care about men’s approval. Or yours, Ms Grant. Because, to me, you sound a bit like my teachers at secondary school, the ones who lectured me about being “ladylike” when I talked too loudly, or ran in the yard. I can make up my own mind about what I really want. I don’t need you (or anyone else) to do it for me.
And I know the difference between feminine and female.
La table is an object.
La femme is not.
Now, I’d like to tell you about this idea of mine…
Would you like to write your own lyrics and melodies for a new Dad Rocks! song, and even get me to record your melodies and words to give back to you?
The finished album version of this song has lyrics and melodies already, but if you want to participate I will send you an instrumental version of this song to which you can record your own singing. You won’t know the title of the track, and will not hear my version of the lyrics and melodies. We give you a track, and you can get creative with it however you like.
Write me at dadrocks1 at gmail dot com with the headline “I can sing!”. I will send out the instrumental track on February 17th, and you will then send back the track with your singing on the 3rd of March. I will pick out my favorite three versions. And if you’re one of these three, I’ll sing and record your own words and melodies for the track, I’ll make a handmade CD and cover for the three winners, and send them to you. I will listen to all of the submissions, and personally write each one of you about my thoughts on your lyrics and melodies. Everyone who wants to have their version on a free digital release on Bandcamp will be included. It’ll be fun, and I’d love to hear your ideas! Get in touch, and let’s be creative together! - dadrocks1 at gmail dot com
Snævar // Dad Rocks!
Poster for the F L I G H T exhibition at Soup Kitchen.
I wanted to design a poster that carried on with the idea and branding used for the previous exhibition (L A N T E R N) but with more punch to the overall design. Thought the paper plane motif was the most basic symbol of flight, so made that part of the title with the i and G as the cut out fonts. The half-toned cloud background allowed the logo to ‘soar’, lending the whole poster an optimistic tone!
Special thanks to;
Cailline (Laserlea) for the laser cutting!
We’re extremely pleased to announce the release date of our 3rd album, Navigator. 5th May is the date for your diaries! The album will be released on CD/LP/DL by Function Records
Artwork is by the enormously talented Dominik Schmitt - Künstler
We will be playing a VERY SPECIAL album launch show at St Pancras Old Church. Tickets can be bought here:
We’ll be extending our live band considerably and will be joined on stage by members of Principal Six
CAN. NOT. WAIT.