Monday, 20 July 2015

I'm sorry but you appear to have a vagina.

Throughout my childhood, I wasn't even aware that were gender stereotypes or things girls can't apparently do. On a Saturday morning, my sister would go to gymnastics and I would go to football practice. Although that could've simply been because I really did suck at gymnastics and given my dad was a coach, it was probably highly embarrassing for him to have me anywhere near the gymnasium. Apparently I've never been one for grace and control.

When I was growing up, I was never once told 'you can't do that because you're a girl.' Apart from maybe when I wanted to learn how to pee standing up. But now with the invention of shewees, I've even mastered that art (although I doubt my friends who had to witness the 'mastering' would agree). Equally, as far as I know, my younger brother was never told 'you can't do that because you're a boy'. He wasn't even told this when we were playing fancy dress and he would claim first dibs on the best dresses. If I'm  honest, he really did rock a frock better than my sisters and I did anyway.

Throughout more recent years, I have been fortunate enough to make great friends that do not conform to gender norms either. My best friend went to Scouts instead of Guides when she was growing up and now she is a boss bitch in the world of science (which is good because I'm planning to live in her garage conversion when she finally qualifies as a surgeon). My male friends would never exclude me from an activity because I'm girl, but that might mainly be because I often don't give them much choice. Nor would they ever censor their conversations because they are around a girl. But if they are censoring their conversations, they should all definitely be in jail.

This summer, I'm working and travelling in America and I've often read that you're more likely to learn if you travel on your own. They were right. I've learnt that I was extremely lucky to have a childhood where gender norms were irrelevant. I'm fortunate in that it's taken me 23 years to truly experience for myself how different things can be when people realise you do in fact have a vagina.

For the first time in my life, I've been questioned about my abilities to do a job because I'm female. Having to persuade someone that my lady arms can carry things is probably the most ridiculous thing I've done recently (and I ended my 4th of July celebrations by walking into a lake on my own and trying to part the water like Moses). I've also been excluded from adventures and conversations because I'm female.  When discussing this recently with a friend she replied with, "I love proving boys wrong." This friend spent a few months last year killing poisonous fish in Yellowstone National Park. Yes, she is a total badass and it's insane that there is a need for her to prove any guy wrong due to gender stereotypes.

Oscar Wilde suggested that women have more fun because there are more things in this world forbidden to them. Even though I probably love to have too much fun, I'd much rather have true equality and acceptance for my vagina and puny lady arms.