I always knew I was as capable and could do anything I wanted to do, just as well or better than anyone else, even a boy! Yes, I know there are differences that make doing some things easier for one gender or the other, but I always thought and believed that there are many ways to do just about anything and you use your own strengths. I was born at a time when roles for women were pretty well-defined and my parents were pretty conventional in their beliefs, although not really in a practical sense. Both parents worked most of my childhood. They worked opposite shifts at times and both parents were very capable of cleaning, cooking and childcare. My Mom definitely had strong opinions and expressed them and my Dad was not dominating and did listen to her. However, I think they both had residual ideas about roles from their own upbringing. My Mom was definitely happier when I got married than when I graduated from college and Dad seemed to think it was my husband’s job to take care of me, rather than a partnership. Mostly though, they supported my belief that I could do anything any boy could do.
My first friends were boys and I constantly challenged this belief and found it to be true. In small ways, of course, but I never found anything that a girl was not capable of doing, none that mattered anyway. I remember actually liking “boy activities” better than conventional “girl activities” of the time, because they were more fun and adventurous. I was a “tom boy” and was told a few times, not by my parents, to act more like a girl. I remember racing a boy in my class home from school in sixth grade because I was a pretty fast runner and knew I could beat him. Also, he said I couldn’t and well, it was on! I won, of course, every time! I was surprised and a bit offended when his older sister drew me aside and said, “You know, Steve (name changed to protect the guilty) might like you, if you acted more like a girl! Boys don’t like girls to beat them!” Well, my objective had not been to have the boy like or not like me, but simply to win a race and prove that I could run faster. Girls don’t like boys to beat them either! That idea that in order to have boys like us, we are suppose to let them feel superior to us, in any and every way, is at the core of the gender bias we are still dealing with. That was a memorable instance. It surprises me after having encountered bias so many times, so many ways, over a lot of years, that it still holds space in my mind. I think the fact that another girl was calling me out and saying something like that was especially offensive.
We have been denied, harassed, bullied and discriminated against and we have been patient, understanding and way too accepting of this atrocity for way too long. Do you think that is too strong a word? Or, maybe that we have made progress and I’m making too big a deal of it? If so, check your bias! There is no other marginalized group that would stand for so much, for so long. Yes, some other groups have been and still are confronted by unreasonable bias. None for as long as it has gone on for women! That is a plain and simple fact and we are the only group that has so much bias represented within its own ranks. Let that sink in!
I usually post blogs related to mind, body, spirit wellness and I was told recently when making a political post that it was in conflict with the good stuff I post. I was calling out the actions of a certain male leader and “somehow” I should be nice and not do that because a lot of people disagree and that diminishes my other “good posts”. While I know this is true, I also know it is part of the whole sit back and be quiet or don’t be confrontational role that gender bias has conferred on women. I really object! Men (I am speaking in a general sense) not only don’t like it when women beat them, but they don’t like it when women prove them wrong or confront their assertions and thinking. Of course, no one likes to lose, be wrong or have their thinking shown to be faulty. That is our nature and our ego rearing its self-protective head! However, why is it more objectional when it is a woman? This is at the core of gender inequity and what has to be dealt with in our thinking and feelings, both men and women, before we can achieve and function in a world with equality for all. The time is now!
I could write pages on the things that have happened to me personally that call out discrimination, inequity, harassment and bias --- ranging from just silly to things that were downright criminal. At a job interview, not as a housekeeper, I was once asked if I liked house cleaning and I was stalked by someone who felt they had the right to intrude on my life in that way. A boss threatened to throw me down the stairs for being too polite, as that shows weakness! I won’t go through the whole list, but you get the picture. Though the circumstances will vary, I am guessing most women have a long list of instances they could talk about. Most men are aware of it too, even if they are not offenders themselves. I have seen things change in some ways, way too slowly, but there has been change and then we see it again and it sometimes seems as if nothing a has changed at all.
The past few years have seemed to signal change with an “Almost Woman President”, the “Me Too” Movement, women elected to more public offices than ever before and then the multiple women running for the Presidency in 2020. It has been a roller coaster ride of hope and disappointment with the old ideas and old ways hanging on, in spite of the bright moments of awareness focused on this issue. So many women had the hope of a woman President and breaking that glass ceiling and pattern of patriarchal domination. Not only were we hopeful for the progress it would make on gender issues, but because we had women who were so qualified, capable, deserving and would truly upgrade the quality of leadership for our country and make real changes so dearly needed. It was disappointing to see those gender biases spoken and demonstrated once again on our national stage and even some coming from women.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t think any woman should support or vote for a woman, just because she is a woman. I think we should vote for the most capable, qualified person with the best ideas, plans, integrity and qualifications that will do what is needed for our country and its people. If that is a woman, there is no reason to wonder if they are electable, likeable, strong enough to lead or should be taken seriously. It truly did break my heart to hear these arguments voiced by pundits on national TV and see them posted on social media. How can we still be there? My patience is running out and so is and patience of millions of American girls and women. Our nation is falling behind because of these “old and useless” ideas that are being perpetuated by fear and ignorance, as well as, an overabundance of ego and a lack of respect. Gender equality would be beneficial to both men and women. We have many examples around the world and yet, we cling stubbornly to the “old ways”. Historically this has never worked and it won’t now!
Yes, as Elizabeth Warren said, “It will happen! We just have to wait a little longer!” I am guessing we have probably missed out on that first President being Elizabeth, and that is a shame because I believe she would be an extraordinary and inspirational President. However, perhaps it will be a woman she has motivated by running for President because, “that’s what girls do!” In today’s world we need contributions from smart, capable people who are willing to get involved and give their all, and we need the best to lead. Gender should not be an obstacle or qualification. What is there to fear in smart, capable women? Equality does not take anything away from smart, capable men, we need them just as much. It only makes us stronger. One of my heroes is a young Muslim woman who said:
“Extremists have shown what frightens them the most …, A Girl with A Book!” – Malala Yousafzai
When will we stop fearing girls with books or a woman with a plan? When will little girls stop being told to act more like a girl, be lady-like, let the boys win, don’t make waves, be sweet and little boys stop being told not to cry, tough it out, man up or boys will be boys? Is that why we let the President get away with corruption and other atrocities and the Senate Majority Leaderl fail to do his job according to his oath of office –because “boys will be boys”?
I do have hope and know that things will change! I am just weary and can’t wait to see a world where things are different and everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their full potential and make this a better, kinder world for us all. To all the great men who support that vision I want to say “Thank you”!
Blog By Kate Olson
Kate is a Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner & Trainer, Reiki Master & Energy Healer, Life Coach and more. To find out more about her or her work, click the button below:
About the Blog
After 4 years of featuring at least 1 guest Author a month this blog will be changed in 2020. i have loved featuring the posts of other great people who also believe in mind, body, spirit wellness. I will continue to feature articles submitted to me on this topic that align with my mission. However, finding & reaching out to others is time consuming and I do it for my radio show, Soul Talks and other groups and projects and so for this blog i will be ramping up my own posts and perspective and posting mostly my own blogs. I will be happy & excited to post articles from those who submit to me.