Some of the gender bias that we are subject to is because we do not fully appreciate and respect ourselves as valuable contributors. Women need to learn not to take themselves for granted.
Have you ever been denied access to something because of your gender? While growing up in the fifties and sixties, students at my high school, were each given one semester of home economics and one of shop, so regardless of a student’s gender, he or she was required to enroll and pass one semester each of these two classes. Males could then take subsequent classes of shop and females home economics. I did the unthinkable. I enjoyed my shop class, and requested to be allowed to continue my curriculum in this direction. At that time, it was not even taken into consideration. My guidance counselor answered with a definite and resounding “no”. It was unheard of, and then looked at me as if I must have been out of my mind.
I never pushed it. Girls were taught not to argue. It was undesirable behavior in ladies. Girls were supposed to be quiet and attractive. They should present themselves at all times so as to appeal to the opposite sex, so that one day they would be able to lure a proper husband to protect and provide for them. Girls were coy and demure. They tried to downplay their intelligence, as it frightened boys off.
My mother was unique, when my sister and I were growing up, in that she worked in a factory. Of course, she, my sister, and I took care of all of the household chores, shopping, and laundry, cooking and such. Mom taught us to scrub the kitchen and bathroom floor with a scrub brush, and then to wipe it up with a sponge. There were no short cuts in those days. Dad chopped wood for the furnace, but my sister and I carried it in and tended to the fire. We took care of the animals and the garden. We mended clothes and did the ironing. Whoever said women were the weaker sex? I am proud to say that we worked very hard and our home showed the love that we poured into our labors.
Why is it then that we were taught, that we needed to catch a good man to take care of us? The way I remember it, while growing up, is that we were darn good at taking care of things. Didn’t we keep the house clean, the laundry done, do the shopping, cooking, and bill paying? We built items with Dad’s scrap lumber, and kept the fire burning on the cold Michigan winter nights. We made our own clothes, canned our own tomatoes, and made our own jams and jellies. Sure Dad was pretty handy around the house, but we could swing a hammer too. Were we denied a second term of shop class because of men’s insecurity or their ignorance? Did they feel threatened by the idea of a man being able to cook and mend, or a woman using a hammer and a saw?