Nothing works better as a catalyst than bringing up sex, religion, or politics.
|Maude Lebowski: My Hero(ine)|
This is a true story, and if I tell you the year, you will all get hung up on time lines and other personal biases, and I'm not having that:
When I was in second grade, and quite the little activist, I remember a boy, a cute boy, asking our beloved teacher (aren't all second-grade teachers beloved?) if she believed in "women's rights" stuff. Her answer:
"Oh, no, Timmy/Billy/Johnny (whatever). I like having the door opened for me."
Now, I had, and have, a very strong sense of self. It infuriated me, even at the tender age of seven, that women were not paid equally. I have very progressive parents. I had grandmothers who were strong, worked, and raised three children each. I had great-grandmothers who worked outside of the home. There are artists, readers, and thinkers in both my maternal and paternal lines.
When the teacher said that, and I saw the smug look on the boy's face as he turned to me in a "See? Told you. I'm the boss. I'll always be the boss, and shut the hell up," I was devastated. How many years is it later, and I still, STILL-- see his face?
So, no. Do not misunderstand. I do not think "feminism" is inherently a bad ideology. Quite the contrary. So many young women and girls in the US at least have the blithe luxury of reaping benefits of years of struggle, bitter epitaphs, name calling, and it goes on. (And for me, the goal is that they do have this luxury--they all need to know history, to preserve progress, though.) We still have the (male) voices deriding women with names on both sides of the political battlefields for shock value and antagonistic, inflammatory rhetoric that is dangerous and evasive. They all duck and hide behind "it was only a joke" hubris. And make no mistake: this hubris is deadly.
And again --I want those young women and girls to feel safe in their sexuality, and realize, damn, we still have a long (f*C*ing!) way to go.
Tomboy? Girly-girl? Well. let's see. I was both. In one instance, I learned how to throw a perfect spiral football pass from a neighbor who played for Michigan State as a quarterback because I wanted to impress the shy neighbor boy whom I had a crush on. To this day I can still throw a football. That was the only way I could entice (wait wait wait - I was 9 years old, too) this neighbor boy to spend time with me. But don't just think I learned how to throw a football to please a boy. (Oh, like you've never done anything to impress the opposite sex! Or same sex! Or whatever!) I have always had dear male friends. Always. But I have always had the one or two best girlfriends, too. One I've known since we were four. I am a loyal friend, no matter the gender. I liked mud. I loved play-acting. I liked being awesome at Red-Rover and aggressively kicking the big rubber ball in kick ball. I was competitive and feminine. I loved to read, talk, and think. And if you read my comments on Effy's post, I loved my Barbie Dolls. Many of them got haircuts. Bad ones. I like to be capable, take care of things, and get the job done. But, I love to hold and hug, and sometimes I need to be held. Don't we all? I don't want barriers for myself, or any child I know, male or female.
I don't want limitations for sons or daughters.
Simple as that.
I can tell you stories, all true, about really painful things I know, and have witnessed personally. Many of those things have a direct link to gender, but many of them are all basically because people can be horrible, psychopathic nut jobs.
But yes, everyone needs to recognize that no one gets there alone. If we need to place our identities in a camp, of one side versus another, all I ask is that we do this with our eyes open, without ignorance or fear, but with strength and courage. Many of Effy's commentors articulate those same sentiments extremely well. But I do not see this in only the narrow lens of being a 'girl gamer.' There are plenty of stereotypes for both men and women, the "basement living virgin" man, or the "troll asshole." Unfair labels don't wash.
As a grown woman, I understand now that the metaphorical open door is the real issue. If we open it ourselves, or for someone else, depends on who has the greater need.
Why are the simple things the most difficult?
Believe me when I say I am witness to so many young folks going through their own search for identities, and it's never easy. It's kind of fun, but it's mostly painful. But we get through it. If we open doors for each other.