I was born female 70+ years ago. I was raised to “act like a girl”. There were rules about being a girl and I was told that it would be wise to learn those rules.
We hear, today, about “Critical Race Theory” which is an “examination of race and U.S. law and to challenge approaches to racial justice.” It seems that certain things may be left out of the collective knowledge, and left out on purpose to create a narrative to control a population.
I think that the same thing was/has been done with the female narrative. Now, after spending 70+ years studying what I often felt were rules that didn’t square with a rationale mind, I have this list of teachings passed down from the previous generation to me. I’ll call it “The Female Narrative of Control.”
- Girls need to act like girls which meant in my lifetime 1) don’t walk anywhere after dark alone. You’re just asking to get raped. 2) don’t wear revealing clothes. Again, you’re just asking to be raped, 3) don’t flirt or otherwise act suggestively because you might send the wrong message, 4) but also don’t use vulgar language or act too bossy because that will turn off the boys. Be sweet. Be gentle.
- Follow the dress code. In school, it was about how long or short a girl’s skirt was (we were only allowed to wear pants on special days), how low or not low a top could be, how tight clothes could be, etc. This was all meant to not distract the boys.
- Girls are weaker than boys – 1) that was the reason given for putting the girls on back breaking conveyor belts at my factory job while the boys were taught to run a forklift. 2) Pumping gas had to be handled by boys for the same reason. Too tough a job for a girl, plus a girl wouldn’t want to smell like gas.
- Girls do not deserve to be paid at the same rate as boys because 1) boy jobs are harder, 2) girl jobs are less valued 3) boys need to be the breadwinner. It would hurt their ego if the girl earned more than he did.
- Girls are not as smart as boys. We’ve never been any good at math or science you know. And we are too emotional to hold any kind of high level job.
- Boys are more athletic and therefore more interesting to watch in sporting events. Therefore, they are, to this day, paid more to play professional sports. I remember being told that people would never be interested in watching female sports.
- If a girl got pregnant outside of marriage, it was the girl who was at fault.
- 1) she clearly asked for it,
- 2) she should have controlled herself and the situation because we all knew that “boys will be boys”.
3) the girl had to hide her “situation” so as not to embarrass the family.
4) the girl was not allowed to finish her school year and was not allowed to graduate with her class in public.
5) the girl was the one who bore the burden of being pregnant, giving birth, and then raising the child or making a decision to give this child up for adoption after carrying it for nine months. It was her fault after all.
- This all leads me to the news today out of Texas. Seventy years later, we are still controlling girls. Oh, I’ve followed all the Back To School pictures and for sure some things have changed. Girls can now wear short shorts and midriff tops to school. And, I know for a fact that girls athletic teams draw sizable audiences though they still are not paid as equals. Women are now allowed to drive fork lifts and we all pump our own gas without help from a man, and we came close to actually having a female President. But some things still have not changed.
When it comes to sex, it seems that the girl still has to be the one to control herself. She has to be the one to avoid risky situations that could lead to rape. She is the one who carries the burden of not getting pregnant. All the while playing in the background are ads that tell women to stay skinny, make sure your hair and clothing are beautiful and flattering and wear makeup because apparently you are not pretty enough without it. While men’s ads are about Viagra.
And now, Texas has decided that a woman and/or her doctor are not smart enough to judge the need for an abortion. A woman must allow a pregnancy to continue unabated. Her body is less important. Her life is less important!
And so there you have it. 70 years later, and we are where we began. The Female Narrative of Control.