When Stephanie Parks Taylor’s 8-year-old son came home from school, his answer to an eyebrow-raising question on his worksheet left her beaming with pride, and felt like it was a shining testament to her successful parenting.
But this wasn’t just any answer. It was a response to a subtly sexist question that not only filled his mother with pride but also ignited a social media firestorm.
Online users clamored, “Give this kid an A+,” as his exceptional reply went viral, earning him applause from all corners of the internet.
Initially, Taylor (@StephptaylorCLT) shared an image of her son’s reply to the controversial question on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “My 8-year-old with the worksheet,” she captioned the picture. “Mic drop. #thekidsarealright.”
The controversial question required students to determine whether a woman should be addressed as ‘Ms.’, ‘Miss’, or ‘Mrs.’, based on their age and marital status. An illustration above featured three women, with one girl labeled as underage and the other two women described as either “unmarried or unknown marital status” or “married or divorced.”
“Is Lara a Miss, Ms., or Mrs.?” the worksheet asked.
The 8-year-old boy countered with a simple, straightforward alternative: “I think she is a Dr.” Mic drop, indeed.
Praised For Raising Her Son Right
As of this week, Taylor’s post has accumulated over 55.6 thousand likes and dozens—if not hundreds—of replies. Without a doubt, the general consensus was praise for the boy’s progressive answer to the question, as well as widespread approval of his parents’ child-rearing skills.
“I want to hug this kid and then hug her parents,” declared Melissa Church (@skserenity), who accidentally misgendered Taylor’s son in her tweet. When corrected, she stood by the original sentiment, “Ah, missed that, even better!”
Declared a Sexist and Archaic Question By Users of Social Media
Many users were baffled that modern-day schools would surrender any valuable time or resources to teaching kids these lessons: “OMG, is this a thing they waste time teaching kids? Give this kid an A+.”
“It drives me mad that women’s titles are defined by their marital status. We should be getting rid of this stuff, not teaching it,” Fleur Loveridge (@SubterraFleur) echoed.
“The 50s called; they want their honorifics back,” another social media user quipped, pointing out how old-fashioned and outdated these styles of address might now seem to a younger generation.
The Titles Left Commenters Fuming
For Taylor’s son, who would have been born in the mid-2010s, the 1950s might feel like the distant past. Younger generations, like millennials and Gen Z, have more progressive views on social issues. They are subsequently more familiar with using inclusive and gender-neutral language, shifting away from titles like ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs.’
“Why are women defined by their relationship status in today’s world?” protested Elizabeth J Rowan (@ElizabethJRowan), a Food Technology teacher in the UK. “I know it dates back to when women were seen as a man’s belonging, but surely this needs to be addressed in today’s society. I am a person and a woman.”
Some would argue that the little boy’s amazing response can be attributed to the role model he has at home. Stephanie Parks Taylor, MD—the 8-year-old’s mother—is herself a ‘Dr.’, who currently serves as Chief of the Division of Hospital Medicine at the University of Michigan. Dr. Taylor’s X bio indicates that she is grateful to be a first-generation college graduate.
Previously, Dr. Taylor worked as Professor of Internal Medicine at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. She is also credited as an author of 27 research publications. One can only assume that Taylor’s example made a decidedly positive impression on her young son.
Gender Stereotypes Continue to Prevail
Women in the comments of the post shared similar instances where children have subverted gender stereotypes. “Reminds me of the time my daughter told me only girls could be scientists,” shared one user.
One particular woman (@snowypeebles27) revealed how she deliberately misuses titles to her advantage: “This winds me up so much! Buying a house last year, the agent insisted I had to specify. I said ‘Baroness’. I ALWAYS make up a title.”
“It’s 2022,” the user concluded. “Women shouldn’t be reduced to whether we have a husband or not.”
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This article was produced and syndicated by TPR Teaching.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.