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My parents are sexist

Hi Sam

My parents are blatantly sexist. My mum doesn't allow me (female) to do certain things that are too "male" for me but lets my brother do such as watching certain tv shows and doing certain activities. I love computer science and my parent tried me to do different a levels than computer science and physics. They got really mad that I chose them and that I am doing them. In the past, they have taken gifts away from me that is too "male" for me. When I bring it up with them my mum gets angry and says what I am saying is stupid and still does exactly the same.

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Sam

Hi there,

Gender stereotypes can be a problem, especially if your parents are the ones using them. There's no such thing as "male" things and "female" things - you should be free to do the things you want to do, no matter what your gender is.

The idea of gender is a complicated one - there might be a clash between our own identity and society's definition of what it means to be "male" or "female". This definition is a problem for people who don't identify as either male or female, or who are transgender. If the clothes you wear, the hobbies you have or future plans are often seen in society as belonging to the opposite gender, it can make it harder to feel free to be yourself.

I'm glad to hear that you didn't give in when it came to your education. There is no reason anyone's gender should stop them from taking whichever subjects they want to at school. Some of the best minds in computer science and physics are female. Ada Lovelace and Grace Hooper were among the first computer scientists. Their gender shouldn't matter, but because women have been held back from those jobs in the past it's important to recognise what they achieved in such a difficult environment.

Even though there shouldn't be these problems with gender anymore, we have to recognise that they still exist. What your parents are doing is not ok - you should be free to be who you are and to follow the dreams and passions you have, regardless of which gender you identify with. If your mum gets angry when you try to talk to her about this , she might not be able to see things from your point of view. It could be a good idea to talk with other members of your family and ask what they would do to help her to understand.

In the end however it might be down to you to stand up for yourself, like you did with your school subjects. This isn't always possible when you depend on your parents financially. The older you get, the easier it will be to express yourself and do the things you want to do, but until then you might have to keep having this argument with them over and over. That can have a big impact on your mental health - so be sure to get support from friends and family. If you need to talk to Childline, our counsellors are here for you whenever you need, and they won’t judge you. You can also reach out to other young people on the message boards for advice.

I hope this has helped, thanks for writing in.

Take care.

Sam

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