Writing the Self #4 gender
Being a girl meant that your dad didn’t come to see you for two or three days after you were born because you weren’t the preferred boy or at least that is how my story of being a girl starts. I was the first born to my dad and the first grandchild. I should have been a boy there was no other option.
Being a girl means that at five, ten, eleven, twelve, sixteen years old you are a plaything for teenage boys when you don’t know what is happening is wrong. You are subject to grown men who think they can touch you and say things to you because you are girl. The women in your life don’t protect you after all the men mean no harm.
Being a girl at thirteen means that you are regulated to kitchen duty during the garage building because you are a girl and you belong in the kitchen not out hammering nails. It means that your brothers who did half the work you did get new bikes right after the build because they did a man’s work for a few hours over the weekend while you worked in the kitchen prepping meals, drinks and snacks the entire weekend and you don’t get anything because you didn’t work.
Being a girl at nineteen means you go out to the bar and some guy buys you drinks all night even though you have told him that you are not interested in him. He doesn’t have to listen to you when you say you are involved with someone because after all you are at the bar with your girlfriends not your boyfriend so you are fair game. He gets mad when you refuse to leave with him, because you are a “tramp” to put it mildly and led him on.
Being a woman in your twenties means that you get to realize one of your life long dreams and become a mom, three times by time you are 25. Being a woman in your twenties means that you are subject to people telling you had the perfect family at one boy and one girl, that you don’t need a third child. You are irresponsible to have more than society’s perfect two child family and asked if you know what causes it etc. When you choose to stay home to raise those children you wanted so badly you are lazy, taking advantage of your husband and generally are worthless.
Being a woman in your thirties means that you start to come into your own, you start to realize that it doesn’t matter what people think. It means when you decide to homeschool your children “they” think you have lost your mind. How could you possibly teach anyone, you don’t know anything, you are just a stay at home mom. Your family planning methods come up for conversation because in your late 30’s you decide to have not one but three more children and homeschool them. It means that when asked if you know what causes that(babies) you don’t give a hoot, and come back with something smart.
Being a woman in your forties means that you realize that you are strong. You have gotten past all this stuff that has been thrown at you, your whole life. It means that you have succeeded in protecting your daughters from those men, you have taught your son how to treat a woman and are teaching your young sons that women are valuable. It means that you were strong, have done what is best for your family despite the obstacles and demeaning marks. It means that you are confident, strong, and smart enough to pursue your other life long dream. A dream that is not valued by some people because its not a high paying profession, because it is traditionally a woman’s profession. A dream to be a teacher. A dream with every midterm, every essay, every class and every assignment, becomes closer because you are doing everything you can to make it happen. Being a woman is good.