I’m just a girl –
Growing up, I was taught that it is right for a girl to cook and clean, she should be a stay-at-home mom, and it was ok to cry. I was taught that a boy should be strong. He could play with guns and cars and would mature into the “man of the household”, but at all costs, he shouldn’t cry. This didn’t come from my mother. It came directly from society itself. But I had a friend who wanted to wear dresses as he ran along the nursery school hallway. I played with cars and climbed trees. The mix of abilities and the nuance of emotions were undefined. My sisters and I learned how to put a plug on the end of a toaster. We learned how to change a light bulb and climb up a step ladder. We were becoming women of the future.
As I grew, society shouted louder, but then it was that men should cry. Women should be CEOs. Men should cook. Women need to be strong. Through all of this, I could see that expectations stayed the same, but the definitions shifted. So men had to be in touch with their feminine side and women? Women ought to be just like men. They could go to work and wear suits, swear in the boardroom and above all – women no longer cry. But just in case anyone misunderstood anything – women should still be the caregivers of the family. If there was a stay-at-home dad – he was too soft. It became obvious that what a lot of busy women were missing was a good wife to keep things going smoothly at home.
I wonder about the role models teenagers have to grow up with these days. I think it must be because I am getting old. I mean, being past the halfway mark of a century leaves a person thinking about all kinds of things that they wouldn’t have in their younger years. When I was growing up, there were only a few female role models. We had the Maries – Curie, and Antoinette that is. The one advocated cake instead of bread (by the way she didn’t actually say that) and the other suggested we be more curious about ideas than people. Then of course we had Dagwood’s wife, Blondie, and Popeye’s wife, Olive. And there was Beatrix Potter, whom I hadn’t realise just how forward she was for her times. These days there are women in politics and business, there are home gurus and educators to follow.
Men are nurses and women are firefighters, but still we don’t have the balance right. I don’t think it is easier. Role models tend to be a bit extreme. Women are either all-powerful ladies, with very man-ish personas, or they are the quintessential homemaker, both impossibly unrealistic in the fast-paced world of the twenty-first century. But I want a role model that is not polarised. Not perfect, but rather humanly flawed.
I don’t want to be a strong woman – I just want to be me. A person with many facets. Strong and vulnerable at the same time. I want to be able to stay at home or to run a conglomerate if I have the ability. I don’t want to be judged by the most recent politically correct trend. I want to be able to use my boy-brain when it suits the situation, and if I am comfortable with it I want to be able to throw like a girl.
I don’t want to have to act like a man to move up in the world. In my past adventures I have been a fashion designer, a mother, a carpenter and even an author. I have owned man-tools, and I have also worn pretty dresses, but I have never stopped to ask myself if I would have been anything other than a girl