I’m just a girl, living in captivity/Your rule of thumb/Makes me worrisome/I’m just a girl, what’s my destiny?
I was lucky to be surrounded by aunties and uncles who told me repeatedly I could be whoever and whatever I wanted to be when I grew up. Most women I saw at the time in my life or on TV worked either clerical jobs, as nurses, or cheerleaders. Yes, there was a time when I was little that it was my fervent desire to be a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. Until I saw Nadia Comaneci score her perfect ten and Charlie’s Angels hit TV. We have come so far and you only need to watch Makers: Women Who Make America to see the progress. Yet there are still idiots out there who think female privilege exists, the lack of women in science means there is a genetic difference between men and women, and if women can’t do math we are destined to work the pole.
Nonsense is all over the internet and somehow it keeps making its way to my screen. I don’t go looking for it. It’s just there on my social media feeds. It started with this Open Letter to The Sexists Who Think “Female Privilege” is a Thing by Charles Clymer. (Go read the post then return) It must be hard being a male in today’s society, particularly a white male. Everyone pointing fingers at you and it’s no wonder. There are glass ceilings for women (and minorities) in the workforce that you set to make the playing field unfair. We make less yet more is expected from us and God forbid we choose to put our family before making money for a corporate entity. Many women shoulder the load of a full-time job, raising the children, and running the household while men work a full-time job and come home feeling entitled to do nothing. If a man speaks his mind, he’s being assertive. If a woman asserts herself, she’s a bitch. Just because we say things that you don’t like and happen to be true doesn’t make us bitches. A friend recently said, “Women who dress a certain way, or talk a certain way or look a certain way are totally judged as sluts, whores and skanks. Have you ever even noticed that there is not a comparable word in English for men? What is the male version of the word “slut” that is equally derogatory? Men can sleep with as many partners as they want and society looks at them as virile.” Rape victims are victimized over and over in the judicial process because living through it once isn’t enough for everyone. Then the victims get to hear the litany of excuses. “She was asking for it.” “He’s an athlete, it’s okay.” “She was dressed like a hooker. What did you expect?” No, some of the men out there can’t be bothered to take responsibility for the choices they make. YES, rape culture EXISTS.
Yes, there are good WASPs out there and men in general, but those are not the men I’m talking about here. This is a sliding scale. Not all men are bad. Just like not all women are evil.
Then this video popped up.
Someone asked what the genetic differences were between men and women to explain more men in science. Someone actually asked that question. When you see the headline grabbers for the video, it’s about Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about race. He used race and racism to give the audience his frame of reference in how he understood the difference being not about genetics but about access and stereotypes. He ends with, “So before we talk about genetic differences, you gotta come up with a system where there’s equal opportunity then we can have that conversation.” It goes back to what I said earlier about what we see and what we’re told. If the adults in our lives are telling us we can do anything or be anything, the sky is the limit. I had enough women in my life who were in the workforce and as the years went by, more women on TV were doing more than sitting behind a desk typing letters or helping a doctor. We need teachers, family members, and friends to encourage us and tell us we can do it. I loved Chemistry in high school. Not only did I get to play in the lab, but it’s where algebra finally made sense. I wasn’t just solving for anonymous x anymore.
Let me tell you why it’s not funny if you are laughing right now. Girls who are not good with math can do so much more than be a stripper. I passed all my classes, but it math was always a challenge. I didn’t end up on a pole. I wound up with a career in the mental health field. Saying our only option is to be stripper is to imply that strippers are uneducated and stupid. When you think of strippers you tend to go for the stereotyped stripper in a seedy bar with daddy issues. Where are the male strippers in seedy bars with mommy issues? We have Chippendales and Thunder From Down Under. Where are the glamorous female revues? It goes back to what my friend said about nothing comparable for men that is equally derogatory. If you still think this is funny, imagine that’s your daughter pictured in the meme. Is this what you want society to think of her and how you want her to think of herself?
Women are much more than we are given credit for by many and we deserve better than this.