Monday, May 14, 2007


If you're expecting a rant about the abortion issue, stop here. This isn't about that, although it is a topic that'd fit rather nicely in this post. Rather, this post is about a different sort of choice; the small choices we make every day to thwart off the imposed societal expectations of what is appropriate behavior. Choices to assert ourselves and our values.

I choose.... be referred to as, "Ms." So-and-so. The term, "Mrs," bothers me. And no, I have no objection to the institution of marriage...obviously, I'm married. But I do take issue with the term, "Mrs," and it's counterpart, "Miss." Why is it that when a woman gets married, her prefix changes, indicating whether or not she is married. Why does society deem it necessary to delineate whether or not a woman is married as relevant to her identity? Is there some ill-perceived value in single vs. married status? And why does a man's prefix remain the same throughout life? Why is it not important to delineate his marital status with respect to his identity? I'm a person, married or not, and whether or not I'm married shouldn't make ANY difference in ANY social circle. I'm a, "Ms," throughout life, just as a man is a, "Mr." shop in the boys t-shirt department for my daughter. The whole children's clothing issue, which of course was brought to my attention long ago but aggravated recently in my quest for gender neutral underpants for Emma, really bothers me. Why are clothes for little girls so damned stereotypical? Princesses? Fairies? Kitties? C'mon! I don't EVER remember wearing or liking that stuff when I was a kid, and I have the 1970's tomboy photos to prove it. I'm not saying that the traditionally girlie choice of clothing should not be made available. There are girls out there who love that stuff, and more power to them. All I'm saying is that there should be more of a balanced selection to offer girls a choice. What about the girls, like my daughter, who are fascinated by fire trucks and police cars and big cats and whatnot. And since when are these things not "girlie?" What makes a lion or fire truck inappropriate for girls to wear on a t-shirt, but ok for boys? Rather than dictate what is appropriate for the female gender as early as infancy, let's EMPOWER them by offering a wider range of choices, offer a wider range of possibilities starting at a young age.

...not to subject my children to the sub-standard level of daycare available in this community. When my daughter Emma was born, I searched around for daycares in our area (the Bronx at the time). What I found was disheartening to say the least. The "affordable" ones were synonymous with filthy surroundings, smelly cribs, babies strapped down to strollers with propped bottles, and children running around half naked covered in mud from head to toe. Yes, I literally saw some or ALL of these things happening at several places. I learned very quickly that I would have to up my expectation of what was considered a reasonable fee for quality childcare. Unfortunately, finding a daycare or nanny that was acceptable to me was also WAY out of my price range. At that point, on a teacher's salary, I'd be working just to break even and pay the childcare provider. And so, I figured that if that were the case, I might as well stay home and take care of my own kids. What irks me about all this is the sub-par standards this country has set for affordable, quality childcare. We are SO BACKWARDS in this regard, and in our treatment of ANYONE who cares for our children. Just look at teachers and daycare providers. These are the people who feed your child, change his/her diaper, stimulate him/her, teach him/her, and yet they are one of the lowest paid professions on record. They often spend more time with our children during the day than we do. And still, we find it acceptable to pay them barely enough to live on. However, a baseball player makes millions, as do movie stars. We value our entertainment more than we do the individuals who care for and teach our children. Interesting. not allow my daughter to watch movies like, "Cinderella," and, "Sleeping Beauty," and, "Snow White," because I'm sick of the helpless, princess stereotype whose only ambition in life is to find her prince and be pretty enough to get married. Where are the strong role models. Where are the children's movies with women who grow up to be vibrant, intelligent professionals or academics or artists. Why are the women in Disney movies always at the mercy of some oppressor and in dire need of rescuing? Cinderella's liberation from her wicked step-mother by the young prince is just one obvious example. Nevermind the catty bickering that goes on between she and her step-sisters over who is the prettiest and most well-suited to marry (as if struggling to compete in a man's world isn't bad enough, we are pitted to compete with one another!). "Aladdin's" Jasmine is yet another beautiful (by Disney standards) princess, kept locked away in the castle for fear that her fragile sensibilities and dim wit are too naive to survive the real world. And so, she needs rescuing by the rogue, homeless street boy whose street smarts outshine anything she could possibly contribute or do for herself. Even Ariel in "The Little Mermaid" is living under the strict rule of her father and desperately seeks a more independent and adventurous life. However, it's not until she finds a Prince to marry that this is at all accessible to her.

I mean SERIOUSLY! What the hell are we teaching little girls in this country? Find your prince, and you too can enjoy a life of freedom, adventure, and creature comforts, that is, if you're pretty enough to snag one. It's SICK! Go back and watch the movies again. And keep a careful eye. Watch how the female characters develop. In almost every case, they are liberated from their plight ONLY AFTER the prince agrees to marry them or take them away. I really think it's time we offered our daughters an example of a female character who liberates herself; a young girl who works to achieve her own liberation, success, and life of adventure; women who work to fulfill themselves rather than sitting around cultivating a beautiful smile and perfect posture, waiting for a man to come along and rescue them. It's the least we can do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry, when you say 'daycare', do you actually mean 'creche'?