Thursday, June 30, 2016

Shame, Shame, I Know Your Name

As a child, I was conditioned to think that being a girl was almost like being a lesser human.

I grew up with three older brothers who were the epitome of men.  They skateboarded, played in the woods til dark, they smoked, drank with their friends, always had girl friends, they played football, basketball, and baseball, they went off to college, and traveled the world.

When I came along, I was, of course, dressed in head-to-toe pink, which I soon came do despise.  My brothers criticized me for being a girl so I dressed down, got dirty, and became one of the boys (with the exception that I cried a lot!). 
I had to play baseball like my brothers, throw a football like my brothers, I stopped dressing like a little girl, and could be regularly found myself in an over-sized t-shirt, jeans, and a ball cap.
And I never saw limitations, but they were often times thrown in my face!

A spider would crawl on me and I would scream.  What a sissy!
I would throw the ball half the distance as my brother who was four years older than me. You throw like a girl.
I took a baseball to the eye and would cry. Man up. Quit crying like a little girl!
I could sit here and list all of the now horrifying things I heard then, but you get my drift.

Heading into high school with a body that as turning into a woman no matter how hard I tried to deny it, I found myself lost in a sea of girls who definitely owned their femininity.  I had no idea what femininity even was.  I had spent the better part of 15 years trying to be one of my brothers, that I didn't even know how to be a girl.

When I made the varsity dance team, I remember the girls laughing because I had no idea how to wear makeup.  They would put it on for me because I didn't know how. You're such a disaster.  Even looking back to my senior pictures, I was wearing zero makeup, while my friends looked like they had Glamour Shots.

I had my daughter two years after high school.  At this point I had obviously recognized some of my femininity, but not all of it. I am not sure I know now what it is all about, but I am learning.

My daughter is a whole package of things I am not, mixed in with a handful of things that are just like me. 
She is only in 8th grade and wears a pretty fair amount of makeup.  Not every day, but a good number of them.
She dresses to show off her femininity. She loves to match and show off her athletic & thin body.
She plays sports, and gets dirty, but she also takes care of her appearance even in uniform.
She never has a day where she looks like she hasn't tried to put her appearance together.
She squees at bugs and spiders.
She cries when she hurts.

But what astounds me most, is even as a dancer, a softball player, a theater tech kid, a choir singer, a track runner, an honors student, and an art aficionado, she still gets made fun of for being a girl.  Her cousins poke fun if she doesn't hit their 55 mph baseball; she can hit the hell out of a 60 mph softball. They tell her anyone can play softball when you swing a bat at a grapefruit.  Its just a ribbing. All in good fun, right?  We take it with a grain of salt, but what is so wrong with playing like a girl?  I know some fine female athletes!  Some are dear friend, while some of whom I have had the privilege of coaching for the last 2 years.  Not one of them makes me giggle or laugh at how girly they are or how they throw or how they catch.  It makes

When did "being a girl" become such a bad thing? And who is still teaching their children that women aren't as capable as men are?  Humanity wouldn't even be here if it weren't for our ability to create life inside of us.  Giving birth is one of the most incredible and painful feats the human body could ever experience, yet we are still considered weak. Is it because we nurture? Or because we are inherently kind?  I haven't figured it out.

And then there is the way that women treat other women.  Judging their legging choices or hairstyles. Did you see her outfit today? or I cannot believe she would wear something like that!  When we should be commending bravery to take on bold style choices or complimenting her confidence instead of saying "What was she thinking?" or "She is way too fat to wear that!"  I work in an office filled with women who constantly cut each other for their style decisions and I find it sad that we are so concerned with other people's appearances.
But the 30, 40, and 50 year old women do not concern me even a fraction of as much as it concerns me when I hear teenagers doing to each other.  Most of the time, they aren't slamming other girls, but they are wishing they were thinner, or taller, or had so-and-so's legs, or what's-her-name's hair.  What they have been given isn't good enough for them. And I can't help but think it has so much to do with how we, their mothers, were conditioned as children.

Women should look a certain way. I have never looked that way.
Women should speak a certain way. I use expletives in most sentences.
Women should always sweet and nurturing. I am kind, but I am rarely sweet.
Women shouldn't be loud or vulgar.  I am not sure that I have been anything but loud since birth.
Women should raise the children. Can't we raise our children and be bread-winners?

This random list of five "should" sentences are not even a fraction of the things women are expected to be.  We couldn't possibly live up to all of the world's expectations.  Especially when majority of the population over 60 years old, comes from an era where women were inferior to men - on the ball field, in the workplace, and especially at home.

Everywhere I turn my friends and family are saying to stop judging for religion, stop judging for sexuality, stop judging for political decisions, but then we all judge each other on things like a hairdo or a cleavage-y top or ugly sneakers as if those decisions are the ones which define us; they are not.

If it doesn't affect you waking up each day, being successful, providing for your family, bettering yourself, the health and welfare of your family, and going to bed each night, then please, by all means, shut up.

1 comment:

  1. FOR REAL, GIRL. We get enough hatred from outside our sisterhood, so why reflect the nastiness and hate each other inside it? I go out of my way to try to compliment people every day. It's not hard to tell someone you like their shirt and make their day. It's not hard to keep your mouth shut when you dont like someone's outfit or makeup. It'd also not hard to speak up in defense of someone who is being singled out for their fashion choices. I'll never understand why there ia so much hate in the world, especially within communities of people with so much in common, but i see it all the time. I manage a facebook group of 1300 people and under my rule they are civil and respectful and nurtuting to each other. People who are cruel and mean dont last in the world i've created. They're quickly told what they are doing is wrong, and if they continue after that we kick them out. It's a shame we cant do that in the real world. Stop supporting or befriending cruel people. Speak up. Unite against hate. ��