An unsettling conversation with my daughter has reminded me of the importance of counteracting the many negative messages society sends to girls
Arsenal were on the TV on Sunday afternoon and so I was keeping an eye on that while also engaging in numerous craft activities with my five year-old, Eloise.
Half-way through the match, Eloise came up to me and said, ‘I’d like to be a footballer when I grow up, Daddy.’
She then paused, looked at the players on the screen and asked me a question: ‘Can girls be footballers, Daddy? All of the footballers on the television are boys.’
That question — and her observation — has been going around in my mind ever since.
I did immediately say that, yes, she could be a footballer when she grows up. I also promised to find a match on TV with girls playing that we can watch together soon. And I intend to keep my word. But the encounter left me feeling very unsettled.
I’m fairly sure that, ultimately, football won’t be Eloise’s career path, but I’m also very sure I don’t want her to ever feel that any career path is not open to her because ‘she’s a girl’.
This brief moment provided me a real reminder that the perception of possibilities is already being formed in Eloise’s mind in so many ways — subconsciously and consciously. This isn’t something that’s only relevant when she’s finished university and is actively pursuing employment. Her dreams and ideas and sense of who she can become is being shaped and influenced right now.
I can’t control all the messages she’ll come across in her life. But this moment has made me much more determined to make sure I am constantly counteracting the numerous negative and limiting messages she’s being subjected to by our society.
Originally published at www.samradford.com.