The Littles watched Mulan for the first time recently. I admit that I wasn’t really paying attention. I was folding laundry, putting away dishes and the like, when Buddy asks a simple question:
Mom, why do the people think that girls aren’t strong enough to fight? Girls are just as strong as boys are.
I sigh. Of course, that’s the point of the movie and he’ll see that by the end, and believe me, I am so very happy that he recognizes the bias, but how to answer his question? I had just watched this video (I’m a confessed Upworthy addict.) and had women, education and literacy on my mind.
So I explained, in the simplest terms I could manage, that there are parts of the world where girls aren’t considered as important as boys (and some people here in our own corner of the globe would agree). In some places, girls aren’t allowed to go to school. Girls aren’t taught to read. And while it’s better than it was in the past, like in the movie, there is still along way to go.
I thought again about that video, and how all of my children, even the 4-year-old, would have been able to help that woman get to the right place. I feel fortunate. I told the kids a very boiled down version of the story: there was a woman who didn’t get to go to school because she is a girl. She didn’t learn to read. She took her mother to a hospital and they couldn’t find the doctor so they had to go home. Now she teaches other girls to read.
They ask why someone else in the hospital didn’t help her find the way. I tell them: maybe everyone else was too busy, maybe she was embarrassed to ask. I don’t know.
They looked perplexed, and why wouldn’t they? An adult that can’t read is just as strange a concept to them as girls being less important, or less strong than boys. After a moment, Buddy speaks…
I bet boys made up that rule. Mean boys.