On Being A Girl

Lately there have been a lot of issues coming up involving women.  Some women marched a few months back, if anyone remembers, but there were women on the other side of that march who were flabbergasted that any woman in this country would have the audacity to march in a country where they had nothing to worry about, ever.  They failed to see how a woman making less than a man for the same job was troublesome, they failed to see how woman being assaulted was anything but the woman’s fault for “not being more careful,” or “wearing the wrong thing.”  They even defended when a woman was fired for being pregnant.  I seriously read a comment from a woman who said “a woman could not possibly do two jobs well at once.  She should just focus on the job of growing a healthy baby.”

This is the country we live in today.  It’s August 26th, 2017, and there are woman who still think that there is something inherently submissive about a woman.  “Women ARE different,” they say, “we are more frail, more emotional, more weak.”  They usually throw in a Bible quote somewhere too, proving that even God thinks women are there to make babies and sandwiches.

So, it’s not surprising the have my own mother in law say words like “you know E, she’s just overly emotional because she’s a girl.” or “she falls down a lot like me, plus she’s a girl, so she’s got two things working against her.”  She says these things with honesty. She believes them.  She says them often because my father in law finds my daughter’s emotions to be… annoying?  Icky?  Uncomfortable?  I’m not sure.  Usually it seems to make him a bit ragey.  Probably because he is incredibly repressed emotionally, and easy to anger.  So my mother in law thinks she’d defending E, and calming the father-in-law beast, by spouting off excuses for E’s emotions, justifying it by her also having a vagina, therefore making her an expert on all things woman.

I find it infuriating.  My daughter is four.  If she falls, if she is uncomfortable, if she’s sad, if she’s tired, if she’s confused or frustrated, she cries. Why isn’t that okay?  Why is it something that has to have an excuse?  My son cries ALL THE TIME, but that’s never because he’s a boy, no one even mentions it.  (Although my father in law will say “oh, cut that out, you’re a boy,” which also makes me want to throat punch).

I’m at a point in life where I don’t really know how to handle this situation anymore.  We live in their neighborhood and see them often.  They are not bad people, but their words are being heard, not just by me, but by my kids.  The last thing I want is for either my daughter or my son to feel like they shouldn’t be able to cry, for any reason they feel necessary.  That was the kind of house I grew up in.  I was ridiculed by every member of my family any time I cried.  It got to the point where I’d lock myself in the bathroom when I needed to cry, just so I couldn’t hear their taunts.  They called me “Katie Kaboom”  A cartoon character known for her sudden emotional outbursts.

I’m still an emotional person, but only to my immediate family.  My husband and kids see me cry, but I will hold every ounce of feeling back when I’m around my parents or sister. To them, they think I’m an uncaring robot.  Interesting, right?  If a woman cries, it’s because we possess a vagina.  If we don’t cry, there is something wrong with us.  Is there a way to win this gender war we are having?  Is there a way to be a strong woman who cries and wants equal rights in the world, or do we have to give up something about ourselves?  Can a man still be a man if they cry too?

Why are so many people trying to get rid of emotions in both genders?  Isn’t that the last thing this planet needs right now?  We need more compassion and love and empathy. That is what I am going to teach my kids.  That is what I am going to tell my in-laws, even though I know it won’t work. I will have to work extra hard to try and repair the damage they inflict.  That might sound harsh, but I know first hand what it feels like to hear that my emotions are wrong, and it does damage that will stay with you forever if you don’t have a voice that is even louder shouting “you can cry and I will hold you until you feel better.”

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Raising Girls and Raising Boys

I’m sure you’ve all seen the latest story about the frat guys who hung signs up basically insinuating that they’d be having all the sex with all the freshman girls.  It happens year after year, time and time again, across every campus in America… and maybe other countries too, although I feel in my gut that America is the worst.  Anyone know for sure?

Anyway, every time I see these things I roll my eyes.  I don’t get angry and scared for the girls, which I know many people do, which is why news anchors say idiotic things like “I’ll put my daughter in a convent” or “I’ll keep mine home in the kitchen.”  Instead, I say, women are intelligent.  Did you know most of us can read now and everything??  Why not put a little faith into the women to make a good decision.  Why do we assume that the freshman girls will be lining up to let these guys have their way with them.  Like we are helpless and find ourselves drawn to their sexy signs about banging us and our moms. Oh, I’m turned on just thinking about it.  *This is the part where I roll my eyes*

Do you know where this world is going wrong with raising girls and boys?  We treat them differently.  We treat boys like they are supposed to brag about their conquests.  We treat girls to be embarrassed or ashamed about theirs, and it begins in infancy.

Whaaaaaat?? You say, confused by conquests in infancy, but let me explain….

When E was a little, tiny, baby girl, we went to a friends house who had a little, tiny, baby boy.  They rolled on the floor together (as neither of them could crawl or talk or do much of anything but roll), and they eventually got near each other and grabbed each others hands.  It was one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen.  What wasn’t so cute, however, was my husband growling and the boys father saying “that’s my boy!”

And that’s where it starts.  You don’t notice it, because you think it’s funny, or cute, or whatever, but that’s where it starts.  We automatically think about daughters and sons as totally different beings.  We buy boys blue and girls pink, even though those are just colors and mean absolutely nothing.  We make boys play with Legos and make girls play with dolls.  We buy girls kitchen sets and brooms, we buy boys toy trucks and building sets.  I met a girl at a nail salon who said she wanted a boy because she wanted a child that could play soccer and watch sports.  My daughter has two soccer balls, which she loves to kick around, and she loves to watch football.  I know, she’s two, but she loves it. She even does the touchdown sign.

Girls and boys aren’t different beings because they have different sex organs.  They are different beings because we make them believe they are.  Women struggle to be heard, and men struggle to show emotion, both because they are told these are not important things for them, just to realize later in life that they are, but it’s too late, we’ve already been raised to believe that we are different and have rolls based on what’s hiding in our pants.

Women are more than a vagina, men are more than a penis.  Teach your children from the start that they are no different from one another and maybe, maybe, one day we can have the kind of world where we don’t see gender as being a defining criteria for life. Maybe women won’t think that their sexuality is a powerful tool, and the only tool, to get ahead in life, and maybe men won’t think they have the right to do and say whatever they want just because they are told they are the dominant sex.

Let’s remember that we are all human.  One species, not two separate species.  Let’s teach our children to love and respect one another, to hold hands, to play soccer, to watch football, and pretend to cook together.  Let’s start now, before the cycle repeats itself.