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Response to noiretextatique (Original post)

Mon May 7, 2012, 07:56 PM

31. I grew up in the 70s and 80s

coastal California. 5th of 5 children and my parents were well ahead of the curve on gender equality for their kids- at any rate my dad was and he mostly kept my mom in line with it. Where my family was concerned, I was never told there were things I couldn't do or would not be able to do because I was a girl. I wore jeans, played in the mud, caught bugs and spiders, rode a bicycle and had dolls too. My parents and siblings were bookworms and news junkies, and I had open access to both from early childhood.

School was different: I went to a private religious school. To their credit my teachers never implied in any way that I should damp down my intelligence to suit the boys. I was never discouraged from being smart or from studying anything I took an interest in (with the possible exception of evolutionary theory, but that wasn't a gender thing). But there were very clear gender lines on everything else. And we also did the split into Home Ec for girls, shop for boys, even though the public schools had pretty much moved away from that by then. I always had the impression that I was being pandered to as a "gifted" child; I was "different" and therefore exempt from the usual requirements, but the other girls were just there to kill time until they could marry and breed. If you asked me to put a finger on why I thought that, I would not be able to pin an incident down; it wasn't an overt attitude.

"Brains" aren't popular, "pretty girls" are. I picked that one up from my peers. I was the shy, unpopular ugly duckling, and by the time I turned pretty at 12, I'd become neurotic about my looks. I was anorexic by the time I was 14. This was the main area where I really felt a gender difference as a child and teen- girls were supposed to be cute and girly!- but it was peer-driven, and was not an attitude I ever got from an adult. By 16 I had pretty much decided this was bullshit, stopped wearing makeup and hairspray, and went back to jeans.

So I guess I was one of the lucky ones: I didn't take a lot of gender-related hits growing up, and the ones I did take didn't last long. I have always hated being told what to do for any reason; "because you're a girl" just didn't register as a good reason for anything, ever.


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