Sunday, February 9, 2014

How to Be Anti-School without Being Sexist

A while back, a lot of people were upset when T-shirts were marketed to girls that said things like:

"Skool Sux"
"Allergic to Algebra"
"I'm too pretty to do math."
"I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me."
"My best subjects:
(check) Shopping
(check) Music
(check) Dancing
(no check) Math
Well, nobody's perfect."

There were protests and eventually these t-shirts were removed from the stores because they're sexist and push the idea that girls shouldn't be smart and do well in school. I understand the problem here, but it really upset me to see anti-school stuff being pushed out of the stores like that. I personally hate school, I would have LOVED to have had any of these t-shirts when I was younger, and I hate to see adults pushing out the anti-school movement, like it's not okay for us to stand up and say that we're not interested and we'd rather be doing anything but learning.

I do see the problem with these t-shirts, but I think we need to separate the sexism from the anti-school-ism, and realize you can have shirts that express your dislike of school without being sexist. Here's how:

1. The shirt must be marketed to everyone. Honestly, ALL clothing should be marketed to everyone, not just to one gender. But in the case of anti-school t-shirts, sell them in all colors, with sparkles and without, and make it clear that disliking school is open to everyone and is not something explicitly marketed to girls.

2. Don't focus on math. I know a lot of people hate math, but there is a huge stereotype of women not being good at math, and anti-math t-shirts will perpetuate that stereotype. Also, a lot of people think of math as a hard subject, so, while I love the alliteration of "Allergic to Algebra," it comes off sounding like, "I can't do algebra; it's too hard," when I think what we really want to say is, "I don't want to do algebra; it's boring and I'd rather be doing something fun." Math always comes off sounding like a hard subject. Instead of math, focus on school in general. "Allergic to school," clearly comes off as "I don't want to be there."

3. NEVER talk about being "too pretty" to do schoolwork. That sounds really sexist, it perpetuates the stereotype that "pretty" and "smart" are mutually exclusive, and most of all, it's very offensive to anyone who doesn't think they look pretty. It basically says that you have to be pretty to be above doing schoolwork. The messages of these t-shirts shouldn't be that we can't do schoolwork, but that we don't want to be doing it. And looking "pretty" isn't really relevant to that. Being pretty isn't doing anything, the way that doing your homework is doing something. So instead of focusing on looks, think about things you'd rather be doing than going to school: playing computer games, dancing to music, playing outside, etc. And say "I can't go to school, I'm too busy____" And you can insert whatever you like to do. Or you could say something like, "I Majored in Having Fun."

If you don't like school, you have every right to express that. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't. It's really not that hard to make anti-school statements without being sexist.

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