"You know, maybe part of the problem is we need to go back into the schools at a very early age, maybe at the grade school level, and have a class for the young girls and have a class for the young boys and say, you know, this is what’s important. This is what a father does that is maybe a little different, maybe a little bit better than the talents that a mom has in a certain area. And the same thing for the young girls, that, you know, this is what a mom does, and this is what is important from the standpoint of that union which we call marriage.”
Thirty odd years ago, as an army brat, we moved schools. No surprise with that. Army brats move. What did surprise me is I moved from a high school in one region that was progressive to a high school that was so behind the times that I was stunned at the gender stereotypes that were inflicted upon me because I was a teenage girl. I went from choosing subjects where I could learn to weld, drill and do manual, handy person type jobs to being told that my only options as a girl were home economics (cooking and sewing) and mothercraft (how to care for a baby). I felt trapped in a world I was being forced into against my will. I was being told it was expected that I would be a homemaker and a baby machine. They were my only options. My mother wasn’t thrilled about it either. She didn’t believe in anyone pigeon holing her kids. So, at 13, I railed against it. I went out of my way, as teenagers do, to be deliberately crap at these two subjects for two long years. If I had not had a mother who inspired me to be anything I wanted to be despite gender, I would have been less than I am now. Not all kids have that freedom or support.
I am totally against gender stereotypes. No one should be told to follow a certain path due to genetics. Not all women cook, clean and have babies. Not all men do technical, manual labor. People – despite gender – are diverse individuals with their own beliefs and goals. I worry about politicians, like this one above, who advocate what a woman and a man should be like so teach kids that in school. I wonder about people who do not see the underlining threat of stereotyping genders.
I still get gender stereotypes pushed onto me. Just recently, I stood at my father’s funeral, beside my brother, who I had not seen in 13 years. His main concern appeared to be that I was neither married or had a partner in tow. In fact, I believe he would have been relieved if I announced I was a lesbian so I could be slotted into society somewhere. I’m not gay but I get people like him need to pigeon hole others… “She’s not married. She’s not gay. What is wrong with her? Why is she single? How can she stand alone?”
My answer? I can and I do. I am who I am. You are who you are. Bugger off if you don’t like it. Your approval is not required.