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.