Gender Inequality at the Panknin Household
Biene contributed this post.
My brother had an inquisitive mind and constantly tried to figure out how things worked or how people made them. I would often discover that my toys or dolls were broken or taken apart. They had fallen victim to my brother’s curiosity. It would upset me tremendously. Although my parents expressed some sympathy, they never punished my brother or tried to change his behaviour. They not only condoned his often destructive explorations but almost encouraged them. They were proud of his clever findings and discoveries. In the name of science, they expected me to sacrifice my toys.
I do not have many memories of our early school days. But I remember that our teacher was called Frau Gans (Mrs. Goose). Her name very much amused my dad. In German, you say “dumme Gans” to a “dumb female.” Our teacher definitely was not “a stupid goose.”
Both my brother and I were artistic and liked to draw and paint. I produced my first “masterpiece” in grade one. We were supposed to paint a picture of a wall. Mrs. Goose was very impressed with my work because I painted such a realistic-looking brick wall and a happy worker beside it. My dad was a bit puzzled by this unusual theme. “Why paint an ugly wall?” he asked. Ten years later, the communist regime built the Berlin Wall to separate the two parts of Berlin. Maybe this early art exercise in wall paintings was the first step to glorifying wall building. Or was it a premonition?