‘Honour Thy Father and Mother’: Love, Freedom and Control at Home
The chapter examines the girls’ views and reflections regarding the structure of Gypsy and Traveller family life, family values, expectations and culture that influence their educational experiences. Their views of freedom, control and honour within family settings, and the gendered expectations that are part of their family dynamics that impact on individual identity are discussed. Marcus focuses on the domain of power reflected in family and community ideology and culture that potentially functions as challenges and barriers to their educational experiences. Beneficial familial and cultural influences are discussed, but the girls own accounts reveal how these can be limiting. Their narratives are interlaced with personal stories of love, joy, obligation, and frustration, and of belonging to family and community structures that they all ultimately care for and respect. As common themes emerge, the girls’ narratives paint a multifarious and complex portrait of their lives. As there is no existing literature specific to the experiences of Scottish Gypsy and Traveller girls within their family environment, the author draws on a range of older and more recent studies to situate their experiences within a broader context of shared gendered experiences of exclusion and agency across different communities. Literature on the experiences of girls from other backgrounds provide useful comparisons, which help to de-pathologise the matrix of power relations that surround women in general and prevents any one group from being essentialised or exoticised. Many girls experience gender discrimination and pressures to conform irrespective of their cultural backgrounds, albeit in different ways and to varying degrees. Juxtaposed against this cultural backdrop, in the next section, the girls’ interpretations of family expectations of education and school are explored.
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