Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
Where did we get the clever idea that women are all kooky ditzes? Perhaps it’s from this “re-post if you agree” going around Facebook:
I push doors that clearly say PULL. I laugh harder when I’m trying to explain why I’m laughing. I walk in to a room and forget why I was there. I count on my fingers. I hide the pain from my loved ones. I say “its a long story”,…When it really isn’t, just to get out of having to tell it. I cry a lot more then you think. I care about people who don’t care about me. I am strong because I have to be, not because I want to be. I listen to you, even when you don’t listen to me. And a hug will always help. Yes, I’m a girl!!!! Re-post if you’re a lady and proud of it!
I don’t know about you, but nothing on that list seems particularly feminine to me. It’s not even terribly clever; it lacks all the cheeky irony of, say, Ann-Margaret in “Bye Bye Birdie.” (In case you’re wondering, Ann-Margaret is singing about how wonderful it is to be a woman, while dressing herself as a boy.)
How is it uniquely girlish to do any of the things listed in that post? After all, I’ve seen plenty of men try to use a door the wrong way and lots of people, male and female alike, forget why they’re in a room. In my own experience, guys cry more than people think, too, mainly because they’re coached not to do it publicly. On the flip side, I don’t know a whole lot of women who count on their fingers, but I do know plenty who aren’t very good listeners.
More than the fact that this is somehow supposed to represent common feminine traits is that it’s aimed at adolescent girls. At an age when girls (and boys, too, for that matter) need to hear that they are capable and that it’s okay to be themselves, they are instead hearing:
-Girls are silly
-Girls are forgetful and distractable
-Girls aren’t any good at math
-Girls are expected to hide their true feelings, because no one wants an emotional drama queen
-Girls cry all the time
-Girls are expected to drain themselves emotionally for other people, who will walk all over them
-Girls are strong, but secretly wish they could be “themselves,” meaning be weak
Are these the lessons we want our daughters to learn? I won’t deny that there are biological differences between men and women. However, not one of the things on the list has anything to do with those differences. Those are all cultural assumptions, all of which imply that girls and women are somehow less: Less intelligent, less capable, less emotionally stable. We’re systematically indoctrinating our young women with the idea that they are unworthy, but instead of being outraged, girls are passing this around to each other and celebrating. They honestly seem to believe that they are sharing some kind of creed which gives them permission to be true to themselves.
It’s no wonder fewer women enter math and science fields; women are still paid less for the same jobs; and we have yet to elect a woman as President of the United States.
The saddest part of this is that it’s women who are providing their daughters with instruction in inferiority. It’s possible some man made up the above statement, but I have yet to see it on any of their pages. Adult women are spreading this foolishness right alongside their daughters. I understand men who treat women as a subspecies. Plenty of men still claim that there is no such thing as sex discrimination. (Do a web search for “men are better than women”; there are whole web sites devoted to this concept.) But women? This would be similar to my Italian-American relatives telling their kids that they’re not as good as the kids of other ethnicity on the next block. It makes about as much sense.
Until we stop perpetuating stereotypes about our own gender, we can hardly expect men to take us seriously. Perhaps we need to start a new Facebook meme in which we make it clear that both boys and girls have value, based not on their traits or intelligence, but simply by virtue of their humanity.
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