Yesterday we met Avery’s new teacher. She is the meanest teacher, like ever on the face of the planet. This does not dismay me, in fact she seems kind of silly, but maybe that is just a nervous, day-before-the-first-day laugh.
Avery is eager to visit with her teacher from last year, the wonderful Mr. C, who welcomed her late to his class after her forced trial of the charter school. I stand outside with the baby, waiting for Avery’s effusions to settle. Mr. C.’s window is decorated with orange basketball cutouts featuring this year’s students’ names. A border of athletic trading cards frames “Mr. C.’s MVPs.” I look closer. I look closer still. This is the first time I have scrutinized trading cards (playing cards?) in such scrutinous fashion.
They are all men.
The posters of athletes adorning his walls inside the classroom are all men too.
Later, Avery asks why this is a problem. She is blessed with a most enviable sense of loyalty. Mr. C. can do no wrong.
I say, why does he have those trading cards and posters up? Is it because he admires those players? Because he is trying to share one of his interests with you, trying to relate to you with something you might both like? Is he suggesting them as role models? Does he hope they will inspire you to try hard, never give up, be diligent and hard-working?
Do they not make trading cards and athletic posters of athletes who are female? (They do. I looked it up.)
She stonewalls me. What’s wrong with having all men up?
What if, I ask. What if all of the athletes were white and you were black? (What if they all were black and you were white?) What if they were all scientists and there were no women, no Rosalind Franklin, no Marie Curie? What if they were all writers and no Gail Carson Levine, no Shannon Hale, no Lois McMaster Bujold? All astronauts and no Sally Ride? Would it be easy to imagine yourself an athlete, a scientist, a writer, an astronaut?
I don’t think it would be easy at all, and I want it easy for my daughters to imagine themselves as anything.
(Giving Mr. C. some trading cards and posters of the female variety was Tom’s idea. Sometimes solutions are the best sympathy.)