Tuesday, October 16, 2012

That's all that you'll let her be

It's 2012, right? Why are we still discussing this crap? 


Way back in the 80s and 90s I railed against being pigeonholed based on my girly bits. I had Legos, and loved Star Wars, and enjoyed math and science. I wondered whether I would ever want to have children (I do, and love it). I wanted to be an archaeologist, or an astronomer. I fell into teaching, and I love it.  Sometimes, though, I question myself. Sometimes I wonder. I wonder if I've betrayed my feminist adolescence. I wonder if I'd have loved being an astronomer, or a chemical engineer. I wonder if I could, even now, be finding the genetic code that could cure cancer. 

No matter what, though, I always firmly believed that it would get better. That there would be tons of women venturing into traditionally male professions. That little girls playing with stethoscopes wouldn't automatically be asked, "Are you playing nurse, dear?" 

And yet.... and yet...


We have pinkified toy stores. Just in case a girl might not realize where she needs to shop, you know. Heaven forbid she just buy a science kit in primary colors, because it might confuse her poor little sensibilities. Yes, people speak up about this problem, like in this article in The Guardian from last week. I was excited to read the article, where a father speaks up about the blatant "boy's toys" and "girl's toys" sections of his local store. He ended with:

"Only this week, my daughter was called a nurse when she started playing with a stethoscope.

Innocently said, but tell me this: do you not think that if she had been a boy, she would have been called a doctor?"



And then.... I made a rookie internet mistake and read the comments. Right away I saw this:

"This is what's wrong with gender equality. Comments like this should be taken at face value, nothing more, there is nothing wrong with thinking she was acting a nurse. Without a lab coat and a head mirror I would assume the same. A quick google tells me that 92% of nurses are women, and less than a third are doctors. I'd say they were just playing to the odds."


I think my head almost exploded at that point. If this post had been written before women got the right to vote, would this person have thought it okay to just "play to the odds" and assume the child would never want to vote? Making an assumption that a boy with a stethoscope is playing doctor and a girl playing nurse is unacceptable. How about the more neutral observation, "Hey, I see you have a stethoscope. Are you going to listen to someone's heart?" See... is that really so difficult? Why is there a need to make ANY assumption?

We have pinkified sports gear. We have "girlified" Lego sets. We have pink versions of classic superhero costumes. While I have no problem with pink being an option for girls, I have a serious problem with it being the ONLY option. I took to Twitter to discuss my disgust, and found many other examples. 



Girls want the same things boys want - a world of choices. They want to be able to express every side of their personality. If they want to wear pink today, and a Spider-man costume tomorrow, and maybe be a Killer Clown for Halloween - why is that a problem? 




sols_5-years_w1No Doubt: "I'm Just a Girl"

Take this pink ribbon off my eyes
I'm exposed, and it's no big surprise...

I'm just a girl in the world...
That's all that you'll let me be.
I'm just a girl, living in captivity.


I sing along, gritting my teeth in anger, and I ask myself, "When will we be able to stop discussing this crap?"

This post is part of the Slice of Life community - shared at Two Writing Teachers. Link up with us every Tuesday! Stop by the site to read and comment on other slices.

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