This past week, feminists have been praising a little girl named Eva who features in the excellent Channel 4 documentary The Secret Life of Five-Year-Olds.
Eva has been praised for her opinions on gender equality and female empowerment. In an interview in the programme, she says, ‘the most important things for girls to do when they grow up are to go to work and vote’, and that ‘boys aren’t better than girls, they’re exactly the same’. Eva also does karate and, in one episode, she is filmed teaching another little boy some moves.
A columnist in the Metro praised Eva for putting a fellow five-year-old in his place: ‘Eva’s best response comes when Jude says that girls can’t be scientists because “they make silly potions”, and Eva calmly shuts him down by saying, “I extracted the DNA from a banana once”. It might just be the best put-down in history.’ The Huffington Post claimed that Eva had become the internet’s favourite feminist. Elle magazine said that Eva had become ‘our new feminist icon’. And Channel 4 itself put out a clip of the show, captioned: ‘Meet Eva, the five-year-old feminist icon for our time.’
Now, Eva is obviously a well-raised, intelligent child with a very impressive vocabulary. But it is asinine for adults to claim that a little girl is a feminist icon. Young boys and girls should always be encouraged to reach their full potential and test the limits of their capabilities. But these are values that adults impart to children, not the other way round. It’s worrying that modern feminists are encouraging women (not girls) to look up to a small kid as some kind of role model.
This is not to say that children are incapable of expressing incredibly powerful and simple wisdom at times – ‘out of the mouths of babes’, as the idiom goes. It is true that children can surprise us with their clarity of thought on subjects that adults often overcomplicate. But even so, no adult in his or her right mind would consistently consult a child for life advice.