I’ve spoken before about gender stereotypes and work, but something happened this week that really gets my goat. I’m involved in a voluntary capacity at my local school, which is a village, state school for 5-12 year olds. The school is lucky enough to have two male teachers. I say lucky because I believe male teachers are hugely important role models for boys at this age and there are not enough of them in the profession.
One of the teachers is relatively new. It came out in conversation that the village witches had been gossiping about this guy and casting aspersions about his sexuality. Apparently it was their conclusion that he was gay. Unfortunately I wasn’t there when the conversation took place (or maybe fortunately), because I would have had one or two things to say about the matter.
What the hell does a teacher’s sexuality have to do with their ability to teach? If he was gay, does that really matter? But….perhaps….just perhaps the actual undertone here is something different….something more sinister?
Are these people having the same conversation about the women teachers? My outraged reaction was something along the lines of, “well that witch is fat and ugly and wears trousers all the time so she must be a dyke”. But are they wondering whether the nice Miss.Y from class 3 actually likes sleeping with corpses because she wears black a lot? Or Miss. Z who wears shorter skirts than most spends her weekends partaking in Romanesque orgies?
No, it’s because he is a man. And a man who “god forbid” is working in a predominantly female profession. Ergo sum he is gay and probably a kiddie fiddler to boot. The same conversations were murmured in the darkest recesses of the playground about the other male teacher, but he’s been around for a number of years now and since Special Branch haven’t swooped in and confiscated his computer, I guess he must be ok……?
Years ago I went for an interview with a major pharma. It was a long process and at the final stage, I waited a long time for feedback. The call from the head-hunter eventually came: “they really like you, you have all the skills and experience they are looking for, it’s just, well, they think you’re a bit…….gay…..” So I told them to go f***k themselves….up the arse. It doesn’t matter that I am married. That I have two kids. I’m a man, in a predominantly female profession. Therefore I MUST be a homosexual. And anyway, what if I was?
And it’s the same case for this guy. He has a girlfriend. I’ve met her. But I guess that counts for nothing to the school yard witches.
If you’re a man, in a woman’s world……well hell, there must be something wrong with you.