keep calm and make tea helen grant

Helen Grant – sports minister and 50s house wife?

Helen Grant, sports minister is in the news today talking about how to get more women into sport.  Her plan seems to be to get them to do ballet or roller blading so they can look “feminine” and “radiant” – or maybe they could just stand on the side lines looking pretty and keep fit by cleaning the boys kit?

“Some girls may well not like doing very traditional hockey, tennis or athletics, others might, so for those who don’t want to, how about considering maybe gym, ballet, cheerleading?” she said.

“You don’t have to feel unfeminine … There are some wonderful sports which you can do and perform to a very high level and I think those participating look absolutely radiant and very feminine such as ballet, gymnastics, cheerleading and even roller-skating.”

Im spitting.  SPITTING with rage.  Shall we encourage our boys into football so they can look masculine?  Or into boxing so they can be manly?  Only boys mind, we definitely shouldn’t let our princesses partake in anything so uncouth!

Speaking of consulting women as to what they want, she said “whether it’s a Zumba class or a game of rounders after they’ve dropped the kids off.”

Because come on mummies, you have nothing better to do.  Go and have a dance class, you can look amazing and do the housework later!  Leave all that horrid ‘work’ stuff to the men, they are better at it.  You should make sure you keep fit  but ensure you shower and put your face back on in time for your husband getting home from work.  And get that dinner on the table at 6pm!

My daughters current hero is Jenny Jones, we are taking her for a snowboarding lesson next week as she has been so inspired by the athlete.  She doesn’t like her because of her make up, or her ‘radiance’ – she likes her because she kicks arse, she is an amazing snowboarder and won a medal at the olympics.

helen grant sport and girls

I feel that Im constantly fighting against poor body image messages that bombard my 11 year old.  Things ARE better and there are some fantastic female role models but its this easy and relaxed sexism is everywhere, from pink toys for girls and blue for boys at an early age, to padded bras for children and music videos that are sexualised and promote an image that women must show their breasts and dance provocatively in order to make it.

Our Sports Minister is suggesting there are girls sports and boys sports.  Surely there are just sports, some kids will like contact sports, some will like boxing, rugby, football, dance, snowboarding, rollerblading or athletics.  Some of these kids will be male and some female, we should be encouraging all of them to participate in whatever sports they enjoy.

I know there is a problem with teenage girls hitting an age where they drop out of sports, but rather than trying to funnel them into ‘feminine’ sports maybe its worth looking at the reasons why they stop?  Perhaps it is to do with a negative body image that has been drummed into them for years? I hated PE at school and the reasons were that I wasn’t particularly good at group/competitive sports.  I found it embarrassing to be in a big group and being the person who couldn’t do it and I also despised the PE kit, no one feels good in PE knickers…

I also find the idea that ballet or roller blading are ‘girly’ sports that are about you looking radiant really offensive.  Ballet dancers are committed, hard working athletes who devote their lives to perfecting their art.

And if you have ever seen a female roller derby you’ll know that these are strong women who are competing hard, I doubt their bruises and injuries are particularly radiant to the minister…

Sport is sport.  I think its really important to encourage youngsters to be healthy, if exercise becomes a habit at a young age it is more likely they will continue into adulthood.  But let’s encourage them to partake in physical activity that they enjoy.  If that is Zumba, then fantastic! Enjoy it, work out, love the benefits of your body being healthier and fitter, don’t do it because you want to look pretty.

Love Sam x

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7 thoughts on “Helen Grant – sports minister and 50s house wife?

  1. I agree that the focus on team sports to the exclusion of much else is an issue for schoolchildren – boys as well as girls. I see this as a public health issue as much as a gender issue. But encouraging girls to see certain sports as “radiant” or glam irks me – it’s missing the point. Exercise should be about building a strong, healthy, functional body, rather than a subset of beauty.

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  2. Thank you for saying all the things I was thinking. Girls should be encouraged to be the best people they can be and should be taught to aspire to strength. Their talents and beliefs and abilities should be reinforced and not structured to meet some obscure definition of what ‘girls’ should like or be like. I like to keep things positive, so just want to say : Love who you are and do not be afraid to get dirty, play hard and be strong. There is nothing more beautiful in this world – regardless of gender – than authenticity. Keep it real. x Thanks Sam.

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    • Thanks for commenting, I was so annoyed this morning that I just couldn’t keep my thoughts to myself. “Get dirty, play hard and be strong” I love that!

      Last night my daughter and her friend went to the woods and played Hunger Games because they want to be Katniss, not because of her looks, but because she can shoot an arrow and kick anyones ass. I don’t want this to end with her believing that girls are just pretty and feminine.

      Samx

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  3. I’m sorry? After your rant about feminine sports you go on to say you didn’t feel good in your PE knickers. Are you suggesting that we should be so shallow as to have a feminine and flattering PE kit?
    I have some sympathy with Helen Grant, your comment about changing attitudes to negative body image is right, but try as people might that is never going to be easy and may take generations. The issue of health and sedentary life style is here and now and we need immediate action. Perhaps you can channel your energy into coming up with an idea that is workable and immediate rather than decrying others ideas.
    By the way, who made you the ballet police! What is wrong with everyone and anyone regardless of not having a Royal Ballet physique, just enjoying dancing for what it is…….. A pleasurable pastime for anyone who chooses. No matter what you say, lots of girls like dancing because of the outfits, what does the reason matter as long as the average girl in the street gets out and gets active.

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    • Hi Carol

      Thanks for your comment. My point about PE knickers was that I felt aggrieved that I couldn’t wear jogging bottoms or something that was more suitable to partaking in physical activity, I have never seen anyone in the gym wearing pe knickers and a skirt. Its not practical and it DID affect my confidence in doing PE whilst I was at school.

      I totally agree that there is a huge issue around health and a sedentary lifestyle, but I don’t think labelling some sports as feminine and therefore some masculine is going to help. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do think that making sport and physical activity fun and a part of normal life is a good thing (as I said in my post)

      Im not sure where you got the idea that I am saying that people shouldn’t dance if they are not slim? I LOVE dancing (Im terrible at it, but enjoy it massively!!) and Im a size 16. I of course have no issue with people enjoying dance.

      If people love dancing, whether it is for the outfits or just the fun of it, that is a fantastic thing. Im not saying girls shouldn’t dance, but that girls shouldn’t be pigeon holed into doing activity that is deemed feminine.

      Sam x

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