Casual readers, be warned, I’m about to get all moody and serious today. Come back Monday when I’m back to recipes if you’re not up for it. I promise I’ll only judge you a little.
Nobody warned me before I had G that it was going to make me worry so, so much about things that I’d previously blown off as people spouting hot air.
To explain what I mean I’m going to have to give you a little bit of back story.
Over this past weekend my Mr. and I watched 500 Days of Summer. Obviously we’re on the cutting edge of newly released movies. We’ve both enjoyed just about all of the movies we’ve seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt in, so we figured we’d give it a try. Neither he or the movie are really related to this post, but his co-star, Zooey Deschanel, is.
In my fevered clicking through the internets I had at some point or another seen mention of “The Zooey Deschanel problem”. I hadn’t followed the link when I’d first seen it, but the phrase had stuck in my head, so after the movie I headed for Google to see what exactly the problem with her was.
The page I found was this one from Virginia Sole-Smith. Basically the article is dealing with the idea of feminism and femininity and how much we can “allow” ourselves to be girly if we want to be taken seriously as women. Virginia is of the opinion that it’s a load of bull-penny that women can’t be incredible, intelligent professionals and still enjoy baking…and I agree.
Getting back to my earlier lament about how nobody warned me… pre-G I would have read this article, agreed with Virginia and then moved on with a sassy head shake and a “Whateva, I do what I want”. Now I find myself seriously concerned about the implications of it all.
You see, that little boy up there in that picture is watching me, imitating me and learning from me every moment he’s awake. Everything I do is forming his view of the world, of how things work, and of women’s place in it all. I love that child with every fiber of my being, but I’ll be damned if he grows up thinking that he’s any better than my friends’ daughters simply because of what’s between his legs. That isn’t to say that I want him to feel inferior,(as his mother I am very much of the (entirely unbiased) opinion that he is the best thing on earth) but the whole issue does make me take a long, hard look at my own actions.
I hope that I’m enough of a mess of contradictions that it will teach him that you can’t lump an entire gender into pools of “Zooey” and “Murphy”, but I don’t know. I (obviously) sew and knit and craft with the best of them, but my Mr. does the bulk of the cooking. I love to flounce around in poodle skirts and do my makeup, but I also love to camp and hike and catch frogs and climb trees. I have a degree in fashion and am working towards one in accounting. I’m pretty sure if I get any more bi-polar in my behavior somebody is going to have me committed soon.
But I still worry. God save me if I have a daughter to be a role model for next.
I get it. I’m making myself crazy, and we can only do our best and blah dee blah blah blah. But I see too many women who feel, like Virginia did, that they have to hide or completely eschew “girlie” things if they want to be taken seriously, and others who feel they have to be entirely girlie, dim and flippant to be desirable, and it makes me want to cry.
I don’t want that for me, and I don’t want that for my child. When G makes friends, meets co-workers and eventually chooses a spouse, I don’t want him to accept these kinds of two-dimensional people. I don’t want it to ever cross his mind that girls can’t do math or boys don’t cook. I don’t want him to ever assume that because a woman is a lawyer she can’t knit…or that because she knits for a living she’s somehow less intelligent. I don’t want him to buy into these stereotypes for women and I don’t want him to buy into stereotypes that look to limit him either.
Our society does an incredible job of forcing people into boxes, but I want better for the next generation. I want G to be able to do whatever makes him happy, even if it’s a traditionally female pursuit, and not worry that it makes him somehow less of a man. I want him to be able to sew and paint, and I want him to enjoy bacon, not because he “has to” as a guy, but because bacon is awesome. I want him to meet girls who are seamstresses and who know how to pull cars apart and put them back together, who do surgery and bake cupcakes and decide his opinion of them based on their intellect and personalities, not where they fit on the media generated chart of people. I want a lot for this kid, and I know that that starts with us as parents.
I don’t think that my wearing the occasional pink froofy dress will lead him to grow up thinking that all women are delicate princesses, nor do I think the fact that most of his toys are currently trucks will somehow force him to grow up to be a mechanic. I do however think it’s important that we be aware of the examples we show to our children. That we’re not just projecting an image for ourselves, but that we’re building their perceptions with what we do.
I’m not sure that this Zooey-triggered, philosophical meltdown is going to actually cause me to change anything I’m doing. I’ll probably make a few more comments to my husband for the next few weeks about how “yeah, okay, I’ll do the dishes since you cooked dinner, but not because it’s my job as a woman!” and I may question if I haven’t bought my son a doll because society tells me I shouldn’t, or, if it’s honestly just because he already has enough damn toys.
I think we’re doing okay. I think the mere fact that this sort of issue has the ability to send me into a tailspin in and of itself says that I’m looking out for gender stereotyping, but I worry.
They warned me I would worry when I had children, but they didn’t warn me it would be like this.