To Be A Girl

I was never a girly-girl (you might have caught on by my adament refusal to call my bag a “purse”). To me in my growing-up years, girly-girls were teeny tiny petite creatures who wore tank tops and short shorts and had mile-high bangs (it got them closer to God). They watched “Full House” and played with Barbies and knew how to do backflips and loved Tiffany. Their handwriting was full of bubble letters and “i”s dotted with hearts. Teachers loved them; boys chased them; and I mostly watched from the sidelines.

In middle school I started down the girly road (which, yes, did include pom poms and the mile-high bangs), but my move to Oregon coupled with the rise of the grunge period allowed me to remain in a non-girly zone. Actually, all genders pretty much resembled each other in their Value Village plaids, form-hiding jeans, and Converse. Girly-girls remained, but at my high school that often meant adding drinking and potential-impregnantion to the roster: yeah, not gonna go there.

My grandmother died the summer before my senior year of college. We flew back in the summer to say goodbye, to begin the estate distribution (i.e. tossing out the stacks of margarine containers and Halloween costumes of my father’s childhood). I met some distant cousins for the first time I could really remember. They were born and raised in the South – the essential Southern gentlemen. Never had I heard “yes, ma’am” and had doors opened for me so often! My glass would get a little low, and one would jump up to get me something for my “parched throat.” FUN!

But with that fun also comes a price. My dad, uncle, cousin, and I were standing in a group, talking about some sort of estate something-or-other. I had a brilliant idea, can’t remember what it was now, but I’m sure that doesn’t detract from it’s brilliance, I’m sure. I blurted it out, so impressed that I could participate in the adult conversation. My cousin, at least ten years older than me, gave me a look and a smile, and continued to talk as though I hadn’t said anything. Puzzling over what just happened, I heard my dad mention something – the *exact* same thing I had just said – to which the cousin said, “What a great idea!” (See, it was brilliant).

Huh?

I was treated like a girl. Correction: I was treated like a girl, and being a girl meant I had no brains.

This happened to me in Idaho as well, particularly at the library, where regulars would be oh-so-charming to the young library assistant, but the tone definitely changed if I spoke of something with substance.

A few weeks back was International Women’s Day. A person called for a gridblog on this day. I thought about participating, but as I read the different posts, I didn’t really feel like I could participate with the group. See, my experience in life has been very different. In general, I’m acknowledged, blessed, and encouraged in my callings – supporting or leading – by both genders. My actions and essence don’t stem from being a girl: they come from being me.

I’ve noticed a number of posts talking about women and leadership – too many to dismiss as happenstance.

Interesting, eh?

What have been your experiences? What are your thoughts? Mine are still percolating. . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *