Monday, March 9, 2015

Vagina Power

You're probably thinking: oh she's just grabbing at attention with a snazzy blog post. And maybe I am. I was going to title this: I'm coming out of the feminist closet. Truth be told though, I don't think I ever went in it. 
Yesterday was International Women's Day. I spent my free time reading about amazing women and my chest swelled with pride- which made my boobs look awesome. And that tends to be the extent of my feminism now. Slipping in random references to the awesome power of boobs and vaginas. (I have been known to shout out, in a roomful of men: 'vagina power!' and give a forceful fist bump to the heavens.) 
Let's be real here though: too often women are viewed as these delicate, pretty objects. When a woman doesn't want to be a delicate, pretty object she gets called something that rhymes with witch and starts with a big ol' B. (For boobs, of course.) 
I was a woman who wasn't about to fit in that type cast. The games and toys were geared towards kitchen and home which often caused me to steal my brother's Gi Joes for the good Lord deemed it wise to put in me a warrior's heart. 
So when I went to college and started to enter the adult world I tried to do what seemed like socially acceptable roles and quickly found out that I was an outside cat trying to claw its way inside. This lead me to find a role that fit for me, which led me to a career that is dominated by men. 
I would say by in large the place that I work has been good to me, but I see how much of the ground I now walk on was paved by pioneering women who went before me. Who had it way rougher. In fact, even that I could get into the field I'm in is due to courageous women who went over to a circle full of men and said: this is where I belong, I'm staying here, deal with it. 
My ninety year old grandma told me in my last visit with her before she passed that she admired what I do and would have always liked to have been able to do something like it. When I went to her funeral I volunteered to go through the pictures and select some which was a mind-blowing experience. She was always grandmother to me, never a 'worker.' But there before me was the evidence in black and white that for her entire life my sweet grandmother worked- and did so surrounded by men. So. That's where she gets her feistiness from. 
The best one was a photo of her at her desk and she's got this boss look on her face. I mean, she's killing it. And my boobs swelled with pride. No wonder I didn't want to dutifully put on the apron and go to my assigned spot in the kitchen. It's just not in me, for that look in her eye -the one where she is OWNING it - that's my look. 
Recently, one of the female leaders at work invited some of us to an event. It took all of my self restraint to not scream out: vagina power! when she was speaking. The kicker that I wasn't expecting was she had us get up and speak. I naively sat through watching the bosses above me, smirking to myself that I was so glad I wasn't them when she called my level of bosses up as well. I would love to report that I killed it, but sadly, no. Before you smile and think to yourself: oh, I'm sure it wasn't that bad, the leader pulled me aside afterwards and said: 'you have to get better at this.' To which I said, yes ma'am. 
You see I'm better at one on one interactions or at reflecting on an event whilst in my pjs. Truth be told though, she's right, I do have to be better. For in my mind there truly isn't two separate races- one for men and one for women- it's all one. I learned that in kindergarten. It was the end of the year race and I gave it my all. Not that I am really that into running, I'm just into winning. So when I made it to the end- in third- I was disappointed. The teachers all cheered for me and one of then informed me I was first. I argued. He may have even been the principal. I kept arguing: 'no! I'm third!' I seem to remember my dad intervening and telling them it was best they drop it for I certainly wasn't going to see it their way. They of course meant that I was the first girl. I knew I was still third. 
My point with all this though is that we all, women too, have to change our mind sets. We still limit girls constantly, in our speech, in our ideas, and in just about every way that we communicate to them. We need to get to a place where we look at someone and see who they are and then try to help them get to the fullest version of themselves. 
My daughter is not a warrior. I'm not saying that to slam her, and I'm not saying she's not brave for she truly is. I don't know yet what she will be, but I hear her saying things like: I want to stay home and be a parent. The interesting thing is she has chosen this primarily because she sees it modeled by her father. Hence why she says parent. Part of me hopes for more still for her, but I have to accept who she is. It may just be that in fact she is meant to be a parent primarily and she will totally kill it. She will own changing those diapers and running around in the minivan (hopefully they will fly by then for Pam's sake - I just made that up by the way, don't know why we always say Pete.) and become the version of her she is meant to be.
For I don't think it's a step forward if we force all women out of the house when all may not want to be. (Though I do think more men need to be brave enough to do what my man does which is get in that kitchen and put on the apron and OWN IT.) No, I think getting to a place where we look at our kids at first like they are blank slates, and we wait to see what strokes they start painting with themselves. Where we take them the whole box of colors to choose from and not just offer the blues to the boys and the pinks to the girls. Some girls like blue and some boys like pink. It's all ok. 
Once we see what picture of themselves they see, then we help. 'Oh, you want to be a doctor? Study this. Work on that.' Don't even begin to address that she may be the only girl. It is frankly a non issue. She obviously won't be dumb if she is striving for doctor, so she will look around the room and see she is the only one with a vagina in the room. Maybe she will find a friend in another male-dominated field and they will become best friends. And they will tell stories about these idiot men they get to deal with while they eat chocolate and watch Gravity. (This actually hasn't happened yet, but I'm about to text my doctor friend and make a date because it sounds awesome.)
I also think we need to encourage more of our kids to try out stuff, that we may even think isn't them, and be willing to let them go as far as failing at it. I learned a lot more this week from my failed impromptu speech then I did from a work problem I was successful at solving. Fail up though. Get up off the ground, grind your teeth, and say: I'm gonna give that another go and I'm gonna keep at it until I own it. 
Tell the boys you are here and you are staying. Tell them you are third when you are and try your best to be first. Use the vagina power. We truly think different and it's a wonderful thing. God clearly thought man wasn't good enough alone, and though we may have started with a bit of them that doesn't mean we can't stand on our own two feet and roar if we freaking want to. 
Above all, be yourself but only if you are the self that you were meant to be. If you got sidetracked, or listened to a different story, were forced to paint with green when you wanted orange- get out the white bucket of Gesso and start all over. Slap down a new canvas. Doesn't matter if your seventy. It's never too late to own who you are and kill it. Go vaginas.

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