Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I can do anything you can do better!

I remember a middle school confidence that girls were better than boys. We could do anything better. In retrospect, we actually were a crowd of bright, sweet, fierce little girls. I actually like us even more now than I did then. God bless the adults who let us believe we were much cooler than our awkward, mouthy, middle school realities. I mean, don't get me wrong, we were plenty self conscious - me, especially. That's what you do in those years. We were just confident we were better than the boys. Also, there were more of us than the boys. It made domination seem more inevitable. Poor boys, we may have (definitely...) been obnoxious. They held their own in good will obnoxiousness though. Don't feel too bad for the boys.

This middle school confidence, I've been thinking about it lately, because over the last 6 weeks or so I've had several conversations about gender differences. Questions at events, bible studies, global protection issues. It has left my mind puzzling over things I've rarely cared much about since I got distracted from that middle school confidence in my superiority.

Gender inequity was something I read about in high school history books, but rarely gave a second thought to in my day-to-day. And then in college there were the women's studies' girls - ahem - WOMEN. They would occasionally try to tell me  that I was both superior and oppressed, which I always found just a bit counter-intuitive. Some of them were reasonable, interesting girls, but mostly they were angry and I felt more oppressed in their ranting presence than I did by the guys who mostly just rolled their eyes and let them speak their enthusiastic mind. (How oppressive...)

Since then, I've noticed the differences a bit more, but I'm not drowned in them. I've noticed that although I'm in a female dominated child welfare workforce, somehow men often find their way to leadership first. I've noticed that men doing similar work sometimes make more money. I've noticed that tasks assigned to female friends are sometimes ridiculously stereotyped and yet nobody ever carries the water tank up from the basement, hangs anything on my dang walls for me or otherwise gets me out of those tasks I'd like to stereotype off on some big, strong man. Still though, mostly what I see is not too brutal.

I don't mean to make light of the larger topic at all. I know there are sincere concerns still faced and have, very occasionally, felt like I got slighted for my gender. And my limited understanding of the extreme inequity faced around the world makes me want to wear black and go back and have those college girls teach  me their rant. All in all though, I fared just fine girling my way through life so far. I'm willing to admit that it's probably especially helpful that I'm still living this fairly selfish, single in the city, life where I'm limitedly accountable to anyone. Hard decisions may still be to come in harder places, in professions still male dominated, in times when you're blessed with balancing a relationship, and in choosing if and how children and work will both fit into life.

All that said, I think sometimes in all these women need, men are, girls have, boys want, conversations we lose the individuals, who deserve to be individuals. We forget about the increasing number of men who choose to stay home, the increasing number of women who find their vocation as leaders in major corporations. And the million little things along the way that still sort of matter in the day to day. The guys who like RomCom and the girls who hate them. The girls who love football and the guys who love musicals. Truly and obviously, the things men and women face are different. there are many generalizations to be made. When it comes right down to it though, while I don't want anyone thinking I'm a man, I also don't want them thinking I am just another girl and my sense is if we thought more about what a person wants and deserves and what wonderful things God created them to love and do we'd have to worry about all the little he/she madness a whole lot less.

Boys and girls are still not the same. (Wisdom! You're welcome...)

I'm going to try to proceed with the treat people like they are as unique as they are approach though. It makes life a million times easier than trying to figure out who is right and wrong about where we all fit in our gender roles. I'm wrong about enough other stuff. I won't set myself up to fail here. I think that is superior logic my ranting sisters would be proud of.

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