Who’s the Boss?

4 Sexist Things From My Childhood That Bothered Me

by Julie Cole
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Last week, actor and very cool Hollywood mama, Alyssa Milano, shared a post on her Pinterest about me.

That was very cool of her and I was absolutely delighted. Funny how the mind works, because that Pinterest share got me thinking about my childhood and the sexist things that I noticed and bothered me as a young girl. Bear with me, it will all come together:


So, Alyssa Milano was in a TV show called “Who’s the Boss?”  In this show, a business executive and single mother, Angela, hires a housekeeper named Tony. He and his daughter (played by Alyssa Milano) move into Angela’s home and Tony does his job of cleaning, cooking and basically running the household. So, the title of the show made no sense to me. Tony is hired by Angela, which makes Angela the boss. So why was the title “Who’s the Boss?” There was no question – Angela pays Tony’s salary making her the boss. Oh wait, a woman the boss of a man? The show’s title was so incredibly sexist, that even as a young girl I found it completely cringe-worthy.


There were no hockey leagues for girls in my day. Perhaps if people searched far and wide, they’d find a league that would allow their daughter to play, but hockey for girls was mostly just girls going to their brother’s games. My young cousins were the first girls who I knew who got to play hockey. Thankfully now, girls’ hockey is thriving and I have three daughters who benefit from this progress. Funding and respect for women’s sports still have a long way to go, but we’ve made some gains.

JCole and two of her girls - hockey

Altar Boys

I went to a Catholic primary school, and one day when I was in Grade 5, there was an announcement that any boys interested in becoming “Altar Boys” could meet at recess in Room #3 to discuss with Father Henry. Well, I took my young feminist self down to the meeting at recess. Father Henry pulled me out of the room and had a little chat with me in the hallway. He said although it didn’t seem fair, the current Pope was not ready for girls to be “Altar Boys”. Some gains have been made and indeed we now have Altar Servers of both genders, but there is still a very long way to go.

Traditional Marriage

My parents had a fairly traditional marriage, meaning Dad worked outside of the home and mom did absolutely everything else. Even when she went back to work, she still carried all the responsibilities within the household. Many men of that time never changed a diaper, bathed a child, did a load of laundry or cooked a meal. My father fell into this category and it was infuriating to me. From a very young age the injustice around division of labour made me ragey. While many women still carry most of the responsibility within the home, a lot of households are run in a far more democratic way.

What injustices bothered you as a child? Can you remember anything that frustrated you about the world you lived in?

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