I grew up in a culture which reveres males over females. I grew up with a brother and two sisters. I grew up feeling my brother is more important than my sisters and I, simply because he is a male.
I grew up working hard and doing well in my studies, initially because I wanted to, and later in my teenage years, I felt I had to. It was my thing. I’m the one with good grades in my family. My brother is the male in my family.
We didn’t get on. I challenged him much more than my two sisters. I believe the secondary school I went to, which was a single-sex school, had a huge influence on my views on my place in society as a female.
And now, I have a son growing up with my two daughters. The only boy.
A few days ago, just before lunch, the table was set with my son’s placemat at the head of the table and my husband’s on the opposite end. I had moved my son’s spot at the dining table the night before as he had trouble reaching the table comfortably from the unmovable bench. It’s a temporary dining set, as the one we had ordered will only arrive in October, and the old dining set already sold. The set up of my husband at one end of the table and my son at the other, would have been the set up at our table till our new dining set arrives.
And so I moved my husband’s place at the table and placed one of my daughters at the opposite end to my son.
The head of the table, though seemingly innocent, holds more message than we might realise. It is typically reserved for the head of the family. On tv, it is almost always where the father sits. In my family, it is where my husband sits.
My husband deserves that spot on the dining table. He works hard in every aspect of his life, be it in his career to provide for the family, or as a father and a husband. He is an important member of the family.
I, too, deserve that spot on the dining table.
As does my son.
And so do my girls.
Having the two male family members sit at the head of the table, flanked by the females in the family, albeit temporarily, didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t want my daughters to subtly be fed the message that the head of the table is not for females. That they are less important than the male members of the family. That the position of a leader is only for males, and they, as females, are not worthy of it. I didn’t want my son to grow up thinking he is more important than his sisters or anyone who is female.
I look forward to when our new dining furniture arrives. As a family of five, we will always have someone seated at the head of the table. A spot that will be rotated amongst all five of us. Not reserved for any one person.
Because as a family, every single one of us, is important. My husband, myself, my son, and my two daughters.