“Until a woman is elected president, girls growing up in this country will see limits on what they can accomplish.”
From We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters by Cokie Roberts
Now there’s a statement I could not disagree with more.
Growing up, I would see positions, careers, jobs, and activities I thought would be interesting, fun, or fulfilling, not who was doing them.
My father drove a delivery truck and I thought that would be a fun job. When we were small he would arrive to pick us up after school and tell stories about what was inside. He was hauling Polar Bears, that’s why the truck was white. And he’d hold kids up to the small windows to see. I never thought, “Well, Dad is a male, he has a penis, so I can’t do this job.”
My mother worked at the bank and I knew that wasn’t a job I would want to to do because it was indoors and she had to dress up every day, but I always admired how hard she worked at that job. I felt that what she did was important, just not for me.
A boyfriend in high school was determined to be a fighter pilot for the Air Force. My Grandfather took me to air shows where we watched them fly low over the airfield. I considered what it would be like to fly these planes and be the hero that we all thought those people were. Never once did I think I could not do it myself because I was female.
Out of high school and into university, I studied theater arts, specifically set design. Through the process I learned to operate computer programs, build, and paint. I eventually learned to be a lighting technician and board operator. Small theaters require that everyone lend a hand everywhere. At no point did I look around me and think, “Wow. Everyone around me has a penis and I don’t. I must be in the wrong place.”
Wouldn’t it be more practical to change the way we look at the world around us, and not consider that the physical appearance of a person doing the thing? What if we looked at what they were doing instead and thought, “You know that looks like something I would like to do.” And then pursued it to the best of our ability?
I realize that women have been excluded from large parts of the world economy and political arenas for generations. I also realize that in the past there has been reasons for that. But many of those legitimate reasons are being nullified. Technology has made being large and strong less relevant. As a society, we don’t need the high birthrate to replace those who die in childbirth. People live longer, healthier lives. Good birth control gives women the ability to control the number of children they have, if any at all.
And there is so much more. Men’s lives are changing for the same reasons and new roles are opening up to them. Society is changing. Relationship models are changing. Everything is changing so rapidly that it’s hard to keep up.
This book is reminding me of that. It was written twenty years ago, by a woman slightly younger than my grandmothers, and one that grew up in and lived an entirely different lifestyle. Her perspective is so different that it’s hard to understand from here.
To read more, go back to my original post on this book, “We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters: New Read.”