BECAUSE WHY: OUR WATCH

I grew up as 1 of 3 sisters, in a simple country town and with a parents who were equals. Both my mum and dad worked, and although dad was the ‘bread winner’ per say, I just remember everything being simple, no drama and cleaning, parenting and well, just everything was equal. As I went through school, I developed a love of sport. When it came to winter sports time, I had to push to let the school let me play AFL instead of netball, and ended up being one of the only girls in the league. I played cricket too, and forfeited doing gymnastics when I was asked to wear a leotard. I was your typical ‘tomboy’ – but really, when I think back, I was just a girl that wanted to be equal, and play what were considered to be ‘boys sports’ at that time. I didn’t care, I just wanted to play, and my parents supported that every step of the way. 

The years went by, I moved to Queensland and started high school at an all girls school, much to my disgust. I’ve always just told myself that my folks wanted to ‘girly me up’ and I guess it worked, because along came hormones, along came boys, makeup, and fashion, but I still had my sports (including cricket). My school didn’t have woodwork, we had home economics which consisted of cooking and sewing – and sports played at lunch weren’t encouraged. I thought it was crap, and back then equality wasn’t a thing, it was just the rules and I had to abide by them. Fast forward to today, I am a mother of a little girl and a little boy – my pigeon pair. When I had them I dreamt of a family like the one I had grown up in, but when I became a single parent, that all changed and so did my views on parenting, how my kids would be raised and my views towards EVERYTHING. 

Here I was, running a household on my own, raising two kids and trying to keep my head above water and equality doesn’t exist because it’s just me. Honestly, my goal for my children since day one was for them grow up doing what makes them happy, and now I’m even more determined to make sure they each get access to the same choices as they grow up. Growing up with only sisters, I didn’t really know what it was going to be like to raise a little boy. Now I realise, the only difference is how I toilet train him, because everything else should and will be exactly the same.

 If Max wants to play with dolls, go for it. If Madi wants to play with cars, go for it. If they both want to dress up as princesses and have a tea party, save me a seat, and most of all, if they grow up and fall in love with someone of the same sex, I’ll support them every single step of the way. There’s a big reason as to why I uphold a relaxed and supportive attitude to providing equal choices to my children, and that’s because I know that unacknowledged gender stereotyping can, over time, lead to gender ineqaulity which then contributes to violence against women – and I have experienced both sexual and physical violence in a relationship in the past. I am taking the lessons I have learnt from my experiences and will help my children to recognise when they are in a situation that they don’t feel is right. Happiness and safety is meant to be felt by everyone in life, which is why Our Watch and their #BecauseWhy campaign draws attention and raises awareness of limiting gender stereotypes that are often shrugged off. We are allowed to question things that make us feel uncomfortable and unsafe, and challenge them to create conversations around the issues. 

Check out www.becausewhy.com.au

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Lauren Patterson