Where are all the girls with swords?

girls with swords.jpg

Like most I a few weeks I was enjoying the unusual warm weather. On the Sunday I found myself wandering the grounds of Wrest Park with my husband, a place I love and adore and a place that was far busier on Sunday than I really cared for. But we found a bench and watched the world go by for a few moments. Old people enjoying the sun, families arguing about where to go next and children, lots of children running around and some brave ones rolling down the hills, you know just like we used to do in 70’s. It was one of those precious moments where you wish the world would stop just for a moment, all helped by the £2.90 we found under the bench; coffee anyone?

As we sat there, both lost in our worlds, a sudden thought came into my head and inadvertently slipped out my mouth.

Where are all the girls with swords?

My husband stopped, looked at me then looked around and like me he saw lots of boys, playing with swords which they were dragging behind them, holding in a fighting stance and just swinging around randomly. Not one girl had a sword; not one. “Maybe girls just don’t want a sword” he said, “Maybe they are just not violent”.

I thought about it for a while and responded with one word, which began with Bull. I remember as a child wanting a sword and as a 50-year-old woman I still wanted a sword, but I remember what I was told, girls don’t have swords.

Now not that I condone violence , nor do I know if any girls had in fact been denied a sword that day but what I do know is that if we think we have moved on in gender equality then that scene might tell us otherwise.

I repeat, not one girl had a sword.

Not one girl felt the power of standing on top of the mound holding her sword aloft, claiming the kingdom for her own.  Why?

I started to think of all the reasons, and then decided in fact it didn’t really matter whatever the reason it sucked, if the girls didn’t ask, the parents denied or the shop didn’t encourage it by sectioning out boys and girls items the results was the same.

Girls didn’t have swords.

Are these things so ingrained in us that we don’t even see them?  

I then started to think of how many women on the screen I had seen holding a sword and not many come to mind; Arya Stark and Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones and I have vague recollection of another but that’s it. Mind you, my mind is also fuzzy on sword-carrying men too; maybe it’s not my genre.

But the point isn’t about swords is it? It’s about the subtle ways we tell boys and girls who they are and how they should behave. The subtle boxes we put genders in and don’t even think about it, the throwaway comments that we make that end up playing on a child’s mind; it’s too often the things we don’t notice but really should.

So here’s to all the girls with swords, the boys who don’t want them and to the parents who promote kindness over swords in the first place.

Let’s all think just a little but more.

Oh, and to the bloke in the supermarket who told me he didn’t drink herb tea as it was women’s tea; you know what you can do, don’t you?