In the days when children
were seen and not heard
my words were mute
my voice, empty
unable to by-pass the invisible
(and arbitrary) line
that accompanied a shotgun glare
or a clip-around-the-ear.

My fingers have learnt
to speak for me.

My own children's self-esteem
appears bullet-proof
their words sure-fire.
They open their mouths
and hurl their voices out
into the world.
It seems there is no line
invisible or otherwise.

No one will shoot them down
with ease, least of all me.


© Sharon Kernot

“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*

I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.

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* Gloria Steinem