As a Woman, what Should I Be?

This is just me writing this time.  Nothing informative.  Just writing how I feel and how I’ve felt a very long time.  As long as I can remember.  It has to do with religion, and with society in general and how I was raised to think and how it has effected me as a person and how I feel it has effected other women too.  Based not on fact, but just what I’ve observed in my almost 50 years.

People have this idea that little kids are oblivious and ignorant of such things as human rights.  I guess as we get older we forget how it was to be young.  I still remember very well, and I suspect my experience is like anyone’s.  I was aware.  I had an opinion.  Things appealed to me or disgusted me or spoke to my heart then just as they do now.  I had perceptions, and a sense of fairness, of right and wrong.  In short, (literally) I was just a little person, as all children are.  When I’d hear adults refer to myself and my friends as “little ones,” ugh!  I hated that term!   I didn’t feel like a little one.  I didn’t feel like anything less.  Not then, and not now.  Because I’m not.  Nobody is.

I remember from a very young age being annoyed to the point of angry at the commercials we were bombarded with.  I was a tom boy when I was little…and I never completely lost my interest in playing in the dirt, as even as an adult I liked digging for fossils and splelunking and hauling up rocks or petrified wood or whatever treasure I could find.  But watching those commercials, what I could see of them through the often side-ways tilted or rolling black and white screen.  Women…raising their families. Women, making dinner.  Women, advertising mops and laundry soap.  Women using Windex, or irons or making cookies, cleaning house, or shopping.  Always made up and wearing dresses, perfect, wearing lipstick even in bed–never a hair out of place.  While men in those commercials washed cars, went camping, or fishing, or were shown building tents, lounging in hammocks, digging, climbing ladders, fishing, playing ball with their sons, working on cars.

Always in the TV shows I watched I would silently rage at the helpless females I’d see portrayed.  I liked the old campy Science Fiction shows back then, the old movies, and always whenever those rare moments would come that a woman would be needed in a scene, she’d faint, or stumble, or fall exhausted to the ground unable to go on, slowing down our heroes from the horrors pursuing them, just waiting to be rescued.  It was the most predictable thing.  I’d sit there and think okay, and now she’s going to fall down…and then she would.  I remember yelling at the TV, even as a small child, “run you guys!  Just LEAVE her!  Run!”

Recently I, out of curiosity, tried to watch some old “Lost In Space” reruns.  OMG…the mother and daughter Penny in that old show were next to useless.  They were only objects to protect…their job…to look astonished, or afraid, or confused, or helpless and vulnerable.  These were the kind of role models I had to grow up with.  If it wasn’t for Vasquez in ALIENS and Zena and Gabrielle in “Zena ,Warrior Princess…”

(I pause in silent homage to the pioneers that had the courage to write women that way–with grit, tenacity, strength–all the qualities I can admire!)

In my last blog some Muslim guy commented that that’s how men should be.  That’s their role and we women in Western cultures who get to actually live our lives and be (at least to some extent) more like what we were made to be, have forgotten this–the fact that some deity designed us to be soft, dependent, loving servants of men–be all those warm and fuzzy wholesome things while our great big sweaty bare-chested males thump their pectorals and lug home dinner to their adoring, families.

Oh please.   And yet it still exists.  Ever watch QVC?  Just watch and listen to the hosts when they’re selling what is traditionally something a MAN would want to buy, vrs. what traditionally a woman would want to buy.  If I called QVC during a presentation to sell a ladder, they might ask me if this was for my husband or my son or my father.  I would say no, you frickin idiot!  It’s for ME.

To be fair the opposite is just as true.  If a single man needed an iron and called QVC and got on the air, probably they’d ask him who the gift is for.

The point being, the programming continues on today.  It’s still apparent in our commercials, and in how we are treated.  I remember when I went to Cycle Barn the first time to look at buying a motorcycle.  The place was crowded with men or men with their sons and all the salesmen were busy.  It took over an hour of standing there looking interested before one of them thought to come over to me.

Happily so much has changed since I was young, since even when I was in my 20’s.    Happily now a young girl can dream big and actually have some possibility of obtaining her dream.  When I was little if I had said I wanted to be a fire fighter or a astronaut or President of the United States for that matter, it would have been a joke to any adult who heard me.  Oh, they’d say “good for you, Diane!” I’m sure.  But they know.  And they would no doubt think that as I grew older I’d put aside these childish dreams and discover a desire to hum as I work, dust as I walk, cook wonderful meals for my man and wait on him hand and foot, making sure a spotless house and well mannered children were there to greet him when he got home.

(Sound of Leave It To Beaver theme music.)

I think organized religion has made boxes and tried to tuck people away inside them.  Women, you go in this box.  It means you can’t be or have or experience anything that’s over here in this box, because this box is only for men.  And men, same goes for you.  Women can’t be masculine because then no man will want them and men, you can’t have feminine interests because that would make you a fairy…a gay…a homo…an undesirable by society.

In other words, anyone who dares to march to the beat of their own drummer…just better not if they want to be loved, accepted, appreciated, all those things we all want to be.

Well I never liked wearing dresses and my favorite color was blue and the only dolls I liked playing with as a child were my brother’s G.I. Joes…and all the cool helmets and fabric clothing and jeeps and guns that were their accessories.  As a child I liked catching snakes and tadpoles and frogs and I liked playing Capture the Flag and building forts with the few boys I found willing to play with me.  I liked to play rough.  I had no interest in jewelry or make up, and I scoffed at grade school girls who wore these things when being a kid was so much better.

Was I abnormal for a girl?  What would have happened to me had I been born and had to grow up in some of these Middle Eastern societies that have these ideas of what women should be vrs what men should be?  Could I have endured being denied the freedoms I saw my brother enjoying?  Hell no.  And if a book told me it was god’s wish for me because I was cursed by being born a female, I wouldn’t feel any love at all for such a god, and in fact I wouldn’t have followed such a deity. Ever!

I did follow the biblical god for over 30 years, because I had blinders on and I didn’t let myself see that the god in the bible is just as sexist, if not more so, than the god the Muslims worship that Christians like to point fingers at and criticize.  But now I see no difference between them, and in fact it seems if you just look at the Quran and the bible and not at the religions and how people interpret these books, it seems from what little I’ve read–the Quran is actually less harsh toward women than the bible is.
So that’s it.  Just felt like writing and saying WHATEVER.  I am glad I didn’t get born 20 years earlier than I did.  I’m glad I was born in the 60’s after all the hardest work was already done by the brave women before me who had the gumption to rail against being forced into boxes. I hope we never, as women, forget how hard our recent forebears had to fight to get the rights we enjoy today, and I hope we never give up fighting–that we never again believe in books written only by men telling us how we as women, ought to be.


10 comments on “As a Woman, what Should I Be?

  1. I enjoyed this post, Diane. I am also a 60s child and remember well all the shows you mentioned; the influences we grew up with. I grew up watching NFL with my dad and brother and used to get scolded each Thanksgiving for sneaking into the living room to catch glimpses of the game, leaving all the other females to do the cooking, which I hated (and still hate!). I didn’t like wearing dresses to school or church because I couldn’t play without the other kids seeing my undies. I am a church-going Christian who despises those neat little boxes you describe. But then again, most of them hate my tattoos, heh. No point here, just saying thanks for writing your thoughts, and you’re not alone.

    • You brought back more memories of every single holiday I can remember as a child. You’re right–the television was off limits. The kitchen was where I had to stay. Peeling carrots, chopping potatoes, stirring gravy or meat in a skillet, setting the table, helping the women bring out the plates to the seated men and boys, getting them all settled before taking a seat ourselves. Then after I couldn’t just go play. I had to help with clean up, which was another hour of greasy soapy water and wiping things down. I don’t recall my brother having to do these things. But because of what I had between my legs–I had to. And wear the stupid dress too. Which, like yourself, I only did for Sunday and then I’d feel rather sick in my stomach physically until I could get home and change. I hated that feeling wearing clothes that weren’t comfortable gave me!

      The part that was really hard…where were OUR heroes? My heroes as a child were all men. There were no women swinging in to save the day, no women I could admire and look up to. Oh, there was the Bionic Woman…I liked that show, and Wonder Woman…not so much but at least it existed. But you know, under the bombardment of all the other women should be THIS crap, it just wasn’t enough.

      I loved the movie G.I. Jane, just because it touched on so many things I am for. I don’t agree that women should have an easier goal to obtain to pass the physical agility test you have to take to be a cop or a fire fighter. I think a woman should be able to be whatever she wants–but she should be able to perform on par with men. If I was in a burning house I would want the firefighter climbing up the ladder to be able to save my life. If I was being attacked and the nearest cop was a woman, I’d want her to be able to save my life.

      When I was in my early 30’s I tried to become a cop. After a few tries I stopped trying because the slowest men ran the two mile run faster than I did, by far, and yet they were told they didn’t pass, and I still did. When I saw that I knew I didn’t have the stuff to be a cop, and I stopped trying.

      I believe in equality. Period. We are all human beings and we should all have equal freedom to discover our strengths and unique skills we all have, and master them. There shouldn’t be any boxes.

    • Oh, and as a Christian with these feelings/beliefs growing up–which I was at the time, the way I justified it all was…well…I had to compromise. People would tell me that the bible was the perfect divinely inspired Word of God. I nodded my head and pretended to agree. But I decided in my own head that men, from way back, have wanted women to be out of sight at all the appropriate times, silent at all the appropriate times, dress only a certain way at only appropriate times. Men wanted to control their women, and in the bible, esp. the New Testament you see examples of human male agenda being supported by the religion. Men wrote it–inspired by God or not, we all agree men wrote it. What was to stop them from adding whatever they wanted to make the society how they wanted it to be?

      Anyway, I refused as a Christian to believe the sexist parts of the bible, or the parts supporting slavery, or condemning gays, etc., were inspired by God. I went a long time as a Christian believing the bible was a good intention with lots of pearls of wisdom in it, but unfortunately a book tampered with by the desires of men wanting power over women.

  2. I like the way you think; I wish I were as articulate as you are.

    I was also a big fan of Bionic Woman and — don’t laugh — Charlie’s Angels. I loved that they were so smart and independent. When I was in high school my counselor suggested I sign up for vocational training (I wasn’t a very good student). I REALLY wanted be a mechanic so I could work on cars, but my dad wouldn’t let me. I showed him and joined the military, ha. That takes balls to even attempt to join the police force; sounds like you would have been perfect for the job. I hope things worked out the way you wanted them to. I look forward to reading through more of your posts when I have time.

    • Well, I hope I don’t offend. I am rather a born again atheist–I tend to say what I think and feel about the religion that pulled the wool over my eyes for years. I hope nothing I write is offensive to you. I don’t mean to show disrespect. I don’t disrespect people who believe. I think if it makes someone happy it’s a good thing–for them. But I’d be lying if I said I respect what they believe. If that makes any sense.

  3. You make perfect sense. Not offended at all; and I hope you don’t mind that I’m a Christian (I’m of the love-all-people, non-evangelistic variety, but am firm in my beliefs). I just love all kinds of people and reading/hearing about their lives. Everyone has a story. Guess that’s why I love memoirs and biographies so much. Ciao!

    • Most of my friends are Christian, and I was for over thirty years so no, I don’t mind. I will not try to deconvert you and I would hope you’d show me the same respect by not trying to convert me. I’ve heard it all before–read it all before, and I have very good reasons for pulling away from those beliefs. I was for a long time posting my thoughts about why I no longer believe, over on FB, and someone suggested I start a blog because…well, people on FB are there to have fun, not puzzle various philosophies. And even though many of my Christian friends think nothing of posting pro-their religion status updates on their FB pages, it was costing me friends on FB when I’d post pro-mine. So now I’m here, and I’m hoping here I can write and say what I think about things and trust that people who don’t wish to be offended, or risk being offended, wno’t read.

      Anything I write that I put under the religion category–very likely it might offend. So if you would rather not argue with me–that would be the category to avoid reading. And I wouldn’t mind because frankly offending people isn’t something I want either. But at the same time…I think it needs to be brought out into the open the things I feel are the truth–because so many people are proclaiming very loudly what I have decided is (sorry to say) a lie.

      And that’s all I will say about THAT. 🙂

      So you were in the military, you said? I tried out for the Navy in my early 20’s but was disqualified due to my poor vision. I wear contacts and am correctable 20/20 or better, but the Navy didn’t at the time, make contact lenses or glasses in my strength so…

      I think it’s for the best. I am a very sensitive person emotionally–It would have changed my whole personality, I think, had I made it in.

  4. Speaking as a man, it’s important to hear this perspective. I can’t even begin to imagine the hell that many women have had to deal with throughout human history. Things are getting better in many modern societies, but we still have a long way to go. As a man, it is easy to forget or belittle the perspective of women. Thanks for sharing.

    • You bet, Sci. Happy to share. Things have gotten better. When I first started working at Aetna in the early 80’s, my first office job, I was a medical claims processor and sometimes we’d have to talk to patients on the phone who didn’t understand their bill. I experienced a few times having the customer demand to speak to a man because apparently they felt a man would know more–or I was in error but a man wouldn’t be. Sad thing one time it was a woman on the phone demanding to speak to a man. No doubt because she, like myself, had grown up believing men were naturally more logical and better at math than women. I recently read an article about that–how women score on par with men when they are not told all the time how women can’t. Seems to me the whole being told what we can’t do has done a lot of harm to our gender. In my time on this earth I have seen girls go from not having many options in sports, to now having professional sports teams. I have also noticed girls are taller than they were when I was young–I have to wonder if, now that girls are allowed to discover their physical potential, where before they were not–if it could make such a physical difference.

      I heard on the Tom Licas (sp?) show once (dispicable man by the way…I used to listen just out of morbid fascination how low he could get) a discussion about women playing basketball. Tom was very open about how amused he was at the very idea; he didn’t understand why anyone would even want to go see a bunch of women playing sports. A woman called in, and from her accent I could tell she was from the South. She was just dismayed that any women would want to play basketball and thought it shouldn’t be allowed. Women were made for one thing, she said. No proper woman would want to behave that way. Sports was for men. Hearing this got me so livid I called that station and reamed her. I was just so angry that a woman could think that way, want to sabotage others of her own gender who maybe liked playing sports–wanted the chance to play sports. But women, just like men, have been programed to believe we need to fit in these assigned boxes. But we’re all just human beings. Yes, our gender makes us different. Yes, men and women think differently. It’s a fact our brains are different. But we are all human beings. We all love competition. I remember when that too, was something they only said about men. But women love it too, to compete. We have egos too. We have self respect, and pride and hopes and ambitions. It gives me satisfaction being the bread winner for my family, even if my “family” all walk on four legs. I am their provider. I make the household work. And that completes me. Gives me purpose.

      Sorry, I didn’t mean to go on so long. I just think both men and women need to let go the boxes our culture and our religions have created, because they force some people to never reach their full potential, and often because those people are raised hearing as they grow up those two awful words, “you CAN’T.”

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