Teachers often have to resort to creating interesting parts for children to play, like lobsters, trees, and even snowmen (hey, everybody’s gotta have a part, right?).
The woman’s daughter was a cast as a character in the Nativity play that was labeled simply as the ‘Inn Keeper’s Wife,’ and this mother took to the Mumsnet forum seeking opinions on whether her concern was justified.
The mother voiced her disapproval, stating: “Daughter (6) has been cast as ‘someone’s wife’ in the Nativity play at school. ‘Innkeeper’s wife’ to be precise. Err…hello!? This is f***ing not OK! In 2019, to be identified as ‘someone’s wife.’”
She continued, adding: “Normally I am pretty relaxed about all things school, and I certainly feel sorry for the teachers’ workloads, but come on people!? This is 2019 – no woman should be identified by her relationship to a man!? SURELY! Itching to call them out on this. Itching!”
Though, before we get into what the other users on the forum thought of this mother’s take on her child’s school Nativity situation, it might be worth mentioning gender stereotypes. After all, that is exactly what her post was about.
It could be that, for the mother, the focus on the wife role raises questions about inadvertent teaching of gender norms and their broader impact on children.
In fact, developmental psychologist Rebecca Bigler published a study in 1995 that highlighted how grouping children by gender in classrooms lead to the development of stereotypes. Eventually, children will start to subconsciously gender situations or roles – for example, boys might eventually start considering certain jobs as being more inherently male, while girls may associate the color pink with femininity.
Bigler conducted an experiment for her study whereby she had two classrooms of children – one classroom was grouped by the teacher into separate gender groups, while the teacher in the other classroom refrained from using gendered terms like “good girl” or “good boy”. The result was that the children in the first classroom stereotyped character traits and professions far more than the second group.
As for the mother’s anger at her daughter’s Nativity play, perhaps it wasn’t as deep. In fact, despite her concern, most of the other users in the forum seemed to believe she was overreacting.
One person wrote: “I don’t see the issue here I’m afraid. The play is set over 2000 years ago when women were somebody’s wife.”
Another said that the Innkeeper’s wife role has been around for a while, chiming in with: “Isn’t the Innkeeper’s wife one of the standard roles in a nativity play?”
Someone else added that the woman was simply being “ridiculous”.
What do you think of the situation? Is the mother overreacting, or does her reaction feed into the topic of gendered stereotypes? Let us know in the comments!