KATHMANDU, Oct 11: While some schoolteachers attribute it to their ´different natures´ and gender experts cite ´discriminatory socialization´, girls continue to show far less interest in sports and other physical activities than in gossiping during break time at school. And this generally applies to school children above class 4.
“Below class 4, both boys and girls show equal interest in games. They play around in an equally carefree manner. But as they grow up, the girls are more into talk and gossip while the boys just want to just play, play and play, whether out on the grounds, in the classroom or corridor or anywhere possible,” observes Mohan Karki, founder and principal of Bright Future Secondary School at Naya Naikap. “It is not that the girls are less energetic. They have often beaten the boys in studies and in other contests. But when it comes to play time, they are more hooked on talking.”
Agrees Elina Bajracharya, an 8th grader at Holy Vision School at Tahachal, Kathmandu. According to her, it is not that all girls hate games but they do not rush and run around here and there to play anything as the boys do when it´s break time. “We also play some games, but only during games hour. But the boys play anything and anywhere as soon as they are let free. During break time the boys are at play but the girls love to talk about movies, teachers or TV programs,” says Elina.
Rekha Tiwari and Pramila Shrestha, both 10th graders at Heartland Children´s Academy at Kalanki, also strongly feel that gossiping engages them far more than games. “When there is no class, all the boys rush out in a second. And the girls, whether they move out or remain inside the room, begin to chat and it never ends until the bell rings,” grins Rekha.
That is the general case, according to Kabita Pandey, principal at Sai Nilayam School, Kalimati. “There can be exceptions but in general, boys are to be seen busy at play while girls love to just talk when given any free time. May be this is due to their different nature.”
And this state of affairs irks Chandani Khatun, an 8th grader at the school, as she does not like gossiping at all but prefers games instead.
“There are two villains here. One is our dress-- the skirt, which does not allow us to play freely, and the next, my friends are so lazy they just do not like any physical activity. When they do not wish to play how can I play alone?” responds Chandani.
The dress might have a role, but it cannot determine their activities so decisively, notes Prativa Mishra, senior social science teacher at Green Village Secondary School in Kirtipur. “I believe girls and boys are from entirely different planets. Not only in terms of playing or gossiping, their entire activities, psychology or tendencies are remarkably different-- girls are girls and boys are boys,” she sums up.
Meanwhile, gender expert Gyanu Chhetri brushes aside such opinions. Chhetri rather believes that girls lacking interest in games is largely a result of ´gender biased socialization´. “From very early childhood, a girl and a boy are treated differently. A girl is expected to appear gentler and more disciplined than a boy. The pressure mounts as they grow up. And the girls, in order to match what the family or the society expects of them, try to shape themselves accordingly. This is reflected in their manners, their behavior and other activities as well,” she explains. “There can be exceptional cases, but in general, why girls are not as carefree and blunt as boys is because they knowingly or unknowingly internalize the social criteria meant for them. In addition, the girls generally help their moms at home and so have an added work load.”