Stop telling girls they must put male feelings first

IT first happened when I was seven. A boy in my class tried to give me a giant Valentine’s card, and a bear holding a heart-shaped “I love you” sign. I said I didn’t want them and he burst into tears. Big, blubbery, seven-year-old tears, in the middle of the playground. Everyone in the vicinity stared.

I don’t remember how I ended up in possession of the card and the bear. I suspect a teacher told me I had to accept them. We were friends, me and the boy. We played together. But I had said no. The lesson was learned at an early age: his feelings matter more than yours. Look, you’ve upset him. Why can’t you just be nice?

Read the rest of this column at

Published in The National on May 25 2018. This column was shortlisted for the 2018 Write to End Violence Against Women Awards.

Published by Shona Craven

Writer, editor, talking head

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