“Bring your knees together or something will fall out”, many of us heard in our childhood. It might seem that an activity as common as sitting is incapable of causing controversy. The truth turned out to be completely different, as shown by the reactions after the cover of “Vogue” with the participation of the first lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska. Why is the topic of gender so strongly present in the theme of sitting? Why do we teach our daughters to “sit like a girl”? What if we do it for fear of their safety?
- In response to the controversy related to the seating arrangements of their first lady, Ukrainian women launched the #sitlikeagirl campaign. “We can sit however we want,” they commented
- Why did sitting astride cause such emotions? We asked Joanna Czeczott – editor-in-chief of the children’s journal “Kosmos dla girls”
- – No way of sitting can justify the fact that someone could get hurt – emphasizes Czeczott
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– Each of us had such a situation – writes one of my observers, dismissing the legitimacy of the question and dismissing it as obvious. I asked if anyone had ever noticed their way of sitting. Most often they refer to members of their families: mothers, grandmothers, less often fathers. It was from them that they first heard that girls should sit with their knees close together and be straight. —Mi never paid attention to the way of sitting, but the posture did. Comments on bowing were usually associated not with the care of the spine, but rather with the idea of the so-called feminine dignified attitude – one of them writes.
– I can see three intertwining threads here – points out Joanna Czeczott, who is the editor-in-chief of “Kosmos dla Girls”, thanks to which she is in close contact with both parents and young girls who can still receive such a message.
– We often pass on patterns of behavior to girls that we do not reflect, no matter what such attitudes may bring to their lives and what the consequences are. Sitting is one of those things. We were taught it ourselves, and it belongs to the canon: the elbows together, the hands stick to the torso. I even heard the term “little hands like a squirrel”. These are the clichés that we have encoded on the back of the head – explains Czeczott. At the same time, he adds that such a message does not have to be fundamentally bad. You just have to be careful that it carries a hidden message called “be modest, take up as little space as possible”.
There are also parents who, on the level of values, disagree that there is one right way to sit, but ask their daughters to be mindful. They do this out of fear that wide-set legs might attract unwanted attention.
– The second thread concerns security issues. We have an idea that a certain way of sitting down is more provocative. This is, of course, a reversal of the role of the victim and the attacker, because no way of sitting justifies the fact that someone could get hurt.
See also: They responded to the criticism of the cover of “Vogue” with Olena Zelenska. “I’m sitting like a girl”
– And finally something mundane but very important. In “Cosmos for Girls” we are very close to what 11-year-olds live. They complain that they can’t walk on trees because they wear dresses that are uncomfortable. Sometimes it comes down to something as simple as providing a girl with comfy leggings. Nobody will then laugh that you can see the panties. A little thing that takes the load off. – Czeczott adds that she loves to wear dresses and skirts herself, it’s just about giving the girls freedom. – As in a lens, different things accumulate here. We are not going to tell any boy “keep your elbows together.”
I ask Joanna Czeczott how a parent, who cares about safety, can take care of a child without burdening him or her and fearing the world and people. – It is always a search for balance. In my opinion, a good way is to get girls from having to think about it. When I am worried about my daughter because it is dark, I propose myself that I will go to the bus stop for her. I take responsibility for its safety – he explains.
We are also talking about how sitting in a pose similar to Zelenska’s is just cool and gives power. – This is an open attitude. He says that you are ready for what the world brings. She says: “I am a full member of society”.
Contrary to the closed attitude, which we associate with anxiety, stress and insecurity. – I believe that young girls should receive a positive message in which the world has a lot to offer and they can take.
The rest of the text is below the video:
However, the matter is not as simple and indisputable as it might seem. People who like to sit down in an elegant way and feel “like a lady” or who draw their boyfriends attention to the so-called manspreading (sitting with the knees very wide apart). – We were telling men a moment ago that they have to sit tightly, and now we say that everyone should sit the way they want. Where is the border? One of my interlocutors asks. A colleague at work points out to me that men sitting foot to foot often hear that they “sit like a woman”. Is it really wrong to sit like a woman? And what exactly does it look like?
– I believe that everyone has the right to sit as they want and as they feel comfortable. At the same time, I also have the impression that how many times in my life I have heard to be careful when I sit, instinctively and without thinking, I sit down as if it was expected of me. My sister, who is from the same mom and dad, has absolutely no such reflex. She doesn’t care what other people say and think of her, so she does what she wants. I am much more sensitive to the opinions of others and I hate it when someone notices me in public – says one of the interviewees.
Several of them also mention situations in which someone completely stranger or from the professional environment reacted to their way of sitting. —I heard that when I’m in a skirt on stage, I shouldn’t be straddling, so I was keeping an eye on my legs.
The most glaring, however, is the fact that in the face of the great tragedy of war, we are still able to focus on the First Lady sitting in a way that is “not befitting” for a woman. This was pointed out by Ukrainian women who decided to upload photos from #sitlikeagirl. One of them is Wal Woszczewska – an activist, who analyzed the photo from “Vogue” in terms of the symbolism of Zelenska’s pose: “No, women are not made to pose only in an overconfigured, directed manner, like during a fashion session. and pose as they please.
See Wal Woszczewska’s post: