I am 48 years old. Oh I know a “lady” supposedly never tells her age, but I have never been afraid to tell that particular secret. I can remember my childhood being filled with lessons designed to turn me into the perfect “little woman”. My generation raised girls differently than they raised boys. Boys were allowed to run wild and explore things, but girls were expected to be demure and angelic, sticking close to home and playing with baby dolls and miniaturized appliances.
I remember finding the carpentry work my Father did around the house far more interesting than the miniature ironing board and stack of pretend laundry. I also remember my Mother telling me to leave my Father to his “man’s work”. “Come along,” she would say. “You can help me make dinner instead.” I would protest but off she would drag me to do the “women’s work”.
As I grew older I began to resent my Mother’s efforts to turn me into the perfect little girl. I wanted to explore the world without barriers, she wanted to keep reminding me that I was a “girl” and as such there were just some things I should not try to do. My Mother’s go to line was “nice girls don’t do that.”
“Nice girls don’t climb trees!” or “Nice girls aren’t interested in building things.” and “Nice girls aren’t interested in sports.” The list went on and on.
I rebelled at an early age. In junior high I tried out for every sports team that would have me, and when I made the team my Mother told me “nice girls don’t run around sweating, you will have to find something else to do to fill your spare time.” When given the choice between home-economics and wood shop I chose wood shop, and again was told by my Mother that this was not an appropriate choice for a girl.
It was about that time that my Mother had the “talk” with me. (No not THAT talk, she would actually never have THAT talk with me because “Nice girls did not think about or discuss anything sexual.”) She did not feel I would be able to attract a husband if I ran around sweating and knew how to use a hammer. To her way of thinking men would be disenchanted with a woman who played sports and built things with her hands like a man. According to her “if I did manly things I would be thought of as a lesbian and would never be able to find a husband to take care of me.”
When I left home my Mother argued that I could not make it on my own and I should “come back home” until I found a husband. As if marrying some male was going to give me everything I needed in life. My Mother didn’t understand strong independent women, she had been raised to believe that women were inferior to men and the only way to get through life was to marry a man that would take care of you. She had tried to continue that thinking when she raised me but I never saw things her way.
When I had my children I vowed not to teach my girls that there were things they could not do because of their gender. If they wanted to play sports they played sports, if they wanted to build a tree house they built a tree house, I did not restrict my girl’s activities according to what society felt was proper for their gender. I saw no reason why they should be stopped from learning anything they had an interest in.
When my youngest daughter was seven she wanted to join Cub Scouts. “No, no” they told her, “you have to join Brownies with the other girls and there you will learn about cooking and cleaning, and all the things little girls need to know.” But my daughter didn’t want to learn how to cook and clean, she wanted to learn how to camp and fish and find her way through the woods with a compass. So we fought for and won the right to enter her into the Cub Scout program. She was one of two girls in her Cub Scout Troop. I became a den Mother and we set out to learn all the secret things little girls weren’t supposed to know. We were some of the first females to break that barrier.
Now with my girls grown, I work in the entertainment industry. Daily I fight the ridiculous notion that because I am a woman I am not as capable as my male counterparts. I read the news and it is abundantly clear that women are still thought of as the weaker sex. They are exploited, abused, and persecuted the world over. Governments legislate what we can and can not do with our bodies, and we are paid less for our work effort than men in the same field. It is high time we take a stand and tell the world that women are not going to stand for women being treated as less than men.
Stand up for your rights ladies! Don’t be the weaker sex! Teach your girls how to be self sufficient, and maybe, just maybe the world will begin to see that we are a force to be reckoned with not a population to be controlled by men.
Be a STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMAN!