Today at work I was talking books with our lead pastor. I ordered a pile of new books for the church library and they arrived today which was a huge bright spot in the middle of this dreary January Tuesday. We are both great bibliophiles and talked about how exciting it is when a box of books arrives in the mail, even if the books aren’t our own. He said he got so excited a few weeks ago when his daughter received a shipment from Amazon. She was like, Dad, they’re just textbooks. But the appearance of the brown cardboard box with the smiley face on it’s side filled him with glee anyway. I get that. New books! What a great feeling.
We went through and examined the new additions. And we got to talking about what we’ve each been reading lately. He was telling me about a great series he enjoyed recently. He was apologetic about it though, because the series was “a little on the girly side.”
I walked away from the offices towards the library, my arms full of the new purchases, and I laughed back at him. “I love not having to worry about whether a book is too manly. I can read whatever I want! Ha ha!”
It got me thinking about my feminist leanings and a particular lack of equality among the sexes that is still culturally prevalent – the social pressures that keep men and boys away from doing ‘girly’ things. There are strides taken against this. There is the fantastic annual anti-bullying day at schools where all the kids wear pink shirts. There was that story in the news over Christmas about the little boy who was frustrated the the Easy Bake oven was only available in pink, because he really wanted one. His big sister started a petition and long story short, the manufacturer decided to design a black and stainless-steel one. Funny how the colour pink worked into those two stories in two radically different ways there.
It often comes down to pink.
When my first daughter was born I was so frustrated that most of the little girls clothes in the department store were pink, so I did some of my shopping in the boys section so I could dress her in ALL the colours. I felt happy for all the girls in the world (well, in North America at least) who can wear whatever the heck they want, and whatever hair style they want and play hockey or rugby or football if they want, and go after any career they want (glass ceiling or no). I felt BAD for boys who can’t wear ALL the things and colours without being bullied, who can’t go to ballet class without being eyed suspiciously, often by their very own fathers. Who can’t do certain activities, enjoy certain entertainment, read certain books. It’s the boys who are cut off from things these days because of their gender. And that sucks.
Some feminists would say that this is actually demeaning to girls since to do / wear / be “girly” makes a boy somehow “less” whereas doing masculine things makes girls somehow “more.” And you know, I would even go so far as to say that that is a good point.
It is still AWESOME to be a girl and have ALL the options. I know society still has a lot of work to do when it comes to gender equality. I want boys to have ALL the options too. And I will do all I can to encourage others to think the same way. There are still kinks to work out, and we can all do little things to contribute every day. But I thank God on a regular basis that I was born in the post feminist age. I’m going to read whatever I books I want to read, darn-it! Among other things.