“It’s tradition”

When I was six years old in primary school, a boy pushed my friend over and she cried. I told the teacher. She pointed to the boy: “Detention,” she said. Then she whipped around and pointed at me. “You get detention too, for dobbing.”

At the time, I remember thinking not fair. As I grew up, I reflected on this with humour and affection for my six-year-old self. I’d known the rules. I had known that we weren’t allowed to dob, and so I’d gotten what I deserved.

Now in my late twenties, I reflect on this and I think again, not fair. Perhaps because it seems emblematic of a broader trend in our society, that when there is a problem or an injustice, the majority stay silent, or worse, don’t notice (because we have been taught not to). Those who do speak up or question the status quo, are called wowsers, radicals, lefties and trouble-makers. Whether it’s questioning gender roles, relationship expectations or marriage norms, expressing concern about a sustainable environment or simply wanting to move away from processed, sugar-laden ‘foods’; someone rolls their eyes. “It’s just the way things are,” they say. “It’s tradition. Don’t get so wound up.”

It can be very isolating and frustrating to be on the receiving end of the “it’s tradition” attitude. It makes me start to doubt myself, to think maybe I am wrong, maybe I am going too far. So we either get back in our box, or we only get our box out around like-minded people.

I really am tired of worrying about whether I am too outspoken, too opinionated, and too questioning. If I want my growing children to learn the courage to speak out, to protect others and to question the context they exist in, then I need to have the courage to do it too. I am going to stand on my box more often. Maybe I will just buy a pair of platform shoes! Even if it means getting detention.


  1. L.E. Turner says:

    great post! It reminds me of the quote that has been popping up all over the internet lately – “the most dangerous phrase in the language is “we’ve always done it this way”.

    • Erin Jade says:

      That’s true! And when things have ‘always been done that way’ (e.g. norms around children taking their father’s name) it can be so hard for people to conceive of change or alternatives.

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