Tuesday, November 10, 2009
November: Marlene's Second Post of Awesome
Marlene is just knocking these out of the ballpark! Wanted to make sure you caught this response to being told girls can't. Here you go:
Unfortunately I’ve had way too many experiences with this issue, although as a young woman during the feminist movement of the 1960s and 70s, I learned quickly to assert myself. It may be hard to believe, but as a female high school teacher in 1971, I was expected to dress appropriately for the classroom, which meant a dress or skirt but NO slacks. This was ridiculous (especially when I look back at some of the mini skirts I wore – yikes!). So one day I wore slacks and in the middle of class, one of my junior boys raised his hand and asked if it was okay for teachers to wear slacks. I told him we’d find out, wouldn’t we? Well, there was lots of buzz but nothing official was said to me and two days later, half the female teaching staff wore slacks.
Sometimes people don’t even realize that they are promoting limitations. When I graduated from high school, the expectation largely was that I would move on to become a secretary, a nurse, or a teacher, and that would be only until I got married. Well, I have three older sisters: 1 was a secretary, 1 was a nurse, 1 studied to be a teacher. So what was left for me? (I wanted to be a writer but I didn’t even dare verbalize that dream.) Well, to make a long story short, I did become a teacher, but the irony was that when I told my father I was getting married, his major concern was that I would still finish my college education. This may seem insignificant today but in 1969, his position had changed 180 degrees from three years earlier when he was a man who wasn’t sure going to college was important for his daughters.
As a teacher in a public high school and a private college, I witnessed many situations where girls were denied opportunities, especially in extracurricular activities and sports. (I even overheard coaches telling their male team members that they played like a bunch of girls. Ouch!) I feel very fortunate, however, to have also seen the changes that have taken place, and by the time I retired, girls were receiving equal opportunity both in and out of the classroom. I also felt blessed that my sons grew up in an environment where having a girl for a friend did not mean she had to be a girlfriend and understanding that there is no such thing as men’s work and women’s work. (My husband won’t let me do the laundry. Cool eh?)