So, I went to see Wonder Woman today with Mom. It was on purpose. It wasn’t the purpose of the trip across three states to get here, but I knew I wanted to do it while I was here because I credit her with many/most of my opinions about women and I’d hoped she’d like the movie. She said she did. (Dad didn’t want to go. I asked... I knew a 2.5-hour movie was an unlikely “yes” though. I wasn’t sure Mom would go, but she did.)
On the drive back to their house I mentioned that I didn’t understand when people say little girls need to see role models of strong women so they know that being strong and independent and standing up for yourself is a thing that is possible for women to do. I have two sisters. They are both all those things and have been since they were little. It’s always been my assumption that kids, both kinds, are born with a strong sense of self and an inborn sense of what they will and won’t put up with, a sense a fairness and being treated fairly is just sort of there, as well as a sense of standing up for one’s self and the idea that they can do anything. I’ve always seen that as being something that kids have when they’re kids. Some kids grow out of it... but it has always felt like something kids are born with to me.
So, if someone is worried their kids are being socialized out of that... if they’re seeing their little girls turn into princesses instead of generals... that seems to me as if they’re allowing something ELSE to be more important to the kid than they, as parents are. I don’t think my parents ever considered for a minute that it was possible or that it would be put up with for the opinions or lessons of tv, movies, or commercials to be more important to us than they (our parents) were.
I’m not a parent. I was a brother and my two sisters grew up to be: One, a Marine that worked on attack helicopters I think, and the other a scientist who then went into law, specifically intellectual property law in the very narrow field in which she was a scientist. Those are not fields that are typically “for girls” but I’m almost sure neither of them ever considered that as an obstacle but did what they wanted to do because they wanted to do it. We were brought up to do what we want to do and obstacles may be there, but they’re not insurmountable. Most things will eventually yield if you smash yourself against it with all your will and intelligence and determination enough times. That was what we were taught. That’s what we saw our parents doing over and over again. Did they have problems or stresses and were they sometimes tired and overwhelmed? Yep. I’m sure of it. But they didn’t stop as far as I ever saw and they taught us not to either. We lucked out in the parent lottery.
The lesson we learned was if you do your best and failed you’d done all you could have done and now it was time to find out what went wrong, address that, and try again, but don’t half-ass it. Don’t give up. Don’t decide it’s too hard because too hard just means too lazy and lazy isn’t okay.
So, raise strong girls. Raise strong boys who recognize that strong girls are good to have around and they aren’t a threat but an asset. Encourage it, but don’t assume it’s not already there in the very young. I’m sure it is, and remember that they will be who they saw you being and they’re watching. God knows they’re watching and listening and remembering so make sure you’re the person you want them to grow up to be. Model the behavior. Show them what strength is. Show them what determination looks like. Show them what it looks like to not pay attention to the limits other people want to put on you. Let them see you living it and doing it. If you have to, fake it and fake it convincingly. I’m sure there were times when my parents were staring at something like a house and yard hit by a hurricane and a house fire and 3 kids and and and... and they kept on going and just did what needed doing and we kids didn’t know how hard it was. We just saw them doing what needed doing and then it was done. That’s what all three of us learned: boys & girls alike learned it from seeing it, and today, we’re doing it.
So, I was glad to see the movie with her but when I think of strong women I don’t think of Gal Gadot. I think of my Mom, my two amazing sisters, I think of my Granny, and my various aunts, my 103-year-old Great Aunt Annie who raised her siblings and has buried many of them if not all... outlived her parents, and some of her kids even. Those are my wonder women.