Ask Athena: Right to Refuse

Pushing back on harmful stereotypes should be a family affair. 

Q: Is it OK for my mother to pay for my son’s AP classes & SAT tutor but not my daughter’s? She says she doesn’t want to encourage a “career girl” (who she feels are unhappy). As a single mom, I appreciate that she can cover some costs but I am not sure what to tell my daughter. 

— Cloverly Cathy


Tell your daughter that you will not take the gift under these conditions.  Athena does not take kindly to accepting a gift with the lead weights of misogyny attached to it.  The lead weight that will tell your daughter that she does not have value.  That boys are more important.  That women who work are unhappy.  Your daughter needs to hear you take a stand.  Even if you want to spare her the dispute with your mother, you need to give her the positive reinforcements about your value and the value of career women.

Thank your mother for her offer but tell her that you are refusing it because she is not supporting your daughter equally. To be told she is not worth it will take more points off your daughter’s SATs than any tutoring could help.

Your son also needs to be told what you are doing.  He has a part in making our society more equal and fair.  He needs to know that he should not take advantage of this patriarchal nonsense, otherwise he becomes a part of it. Society suffers, when we fail to raise up all of us.

Maybe the three of you can figure out a way to raise a little money for the tutoring for both of them. Odd jobs, babysitting, bagging groceries. Perhaps you have skills you could trade thru a community time bank, like the one with Germantown Residents for Economic Alternatives Together ( You all can take a stand.

So, the answer is No, No, No.

– A

YOU SCRACTCH MY BACK… Neighbors helping neighbors isn’t charity, it’s efficiency! 

A time bank is a tool that helps neighbors work together like a village. Members offer their skills, talents, and favors and in exchange for other’s skills, talents, and favors. The bigger the pool of neighbors, the wider range of services offered. G.R.E.A.T.’s time bank has more than 70 participants and uses to track hours (so members can earn time from one member and spend them with another). It’s all explained in a helpful 3-minute video. Connect with other local time bankers via @GtwonTimeBank (Facebook group).

AGREE? DISAGREE? Please comment below. Send your questions to

Read last month’s Ask Athena here.

About Athena 42 Articles
When she’s not advising mortals, Athena spends her time on earth in NW Philly with her husband, two sons and a day job where she’s paid to tell important people what to do (naturally). Send your questions to

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