So, somehow I got on this kick recently of reading books about gender and gender-related issues. It started when I was in the parenting section looking for books on weaning (which maybe I'll discuss at some point in the future, maybe not :P ) and a title leapt out from among the sea of titles: The Way of Boys: Promoting the Social and Emotional Development of Young Boys. I thought, hey, I have a little boy. This could be interesting. So I read it, and dang but it was. Fascinating. It gave me so much to think about, made my mind feel engaged again, and mostly it encouraged and uplifted me. You wouldn't think a book all about how tough it is to be a little boy would do that, but it did. It gave me a lot of hope for my little guy and his future and all the joy we're going to have navigating it together. Here's a picture of my cutie, just to break up this text-heavy post:
Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men. This one was just as interesting, though maybe less uplifting. In fact it made me feel a bit panicky about the schools my little boy will some day go to and the video games he will certainly want to play and even the plastics we have all around us (endocrine inhibitors, holy crap! I'm almost ready to throw out everything plastic in our house... :/ ). But even with the slightly panic-inducing content, I felt like it was a hugely beneficial read. I felt like I learned a lot about the plight of boys, even if I didn't feel as equipped to aid in that plight at the end of the book as I did at the end of The Way of Boys. Mostly because I felt Dr. Sax seemed to be pushing for changes in education, society, and psychiatry that I just really don't have all that much control over.
Anyway, all this reading about boys got me wondering the obvious, well - what about girls? If I read a book about the difficulties of navigating life as a female, would I find myself in it somewhere? So, back to the library I trucked (gosh I love libraries, but that's a post for a different day). This time I found Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters. I'm only on the second chapter, but I've already found a lot to think about. First, I find it interesting that in all these books about gender that I've read (yes, all two and a beginning :P ), there seems to be an element of competition. When they bring up the other gender, all three of these authors have said something to the effect of "We recognize it's hard to be an x, but really it's harder to be a y. This annoyed me. Why do we have to downplay the problems of girls in order to help boys, or vice versa? Ridiculous.
But, that's a sidebar. What I'm really wanting to get at in this post is one little sentence that Dr. Deak wrote in Girls Will Be Girls. I can't for the life of me find the book, but she said something to the effect that when girls were asked to list their role models, their lists were only half as long as a boy's list would be. On average. Something like that, she said it so much better. Wish I could find my book.
It got me thinking - who were my role models as a young girl? I sort of came up blank. My heroes were Abraham Lincoln and Helen Keller. Yep. Truly. But now I realize those weren't really role models. I never planned on being a leader of a country in crisis or a deaf and blind woman courageously navigating a dark and silent world. Those were not, and still are not, roles I anticipated filling. So, then who were my role models?
Well, I didn't keep a journal and I have a terrible memory, but here's a list I came up with of women I can remember looking up to when I was a girl: Anne Shirley, Corrie Ten Boom, Jo March, Beth March, DJ from Full House, Storm, and Kirsten (the American Girl) . . . at the moment I can't really think of anyone else.
I know who my role models are now. And while my childhood list was made up mostly of fictional characters (they called me The Girl with the Book, what can I say?), my list these days is made up of real women. Real, awesome, women. I'd like to take some time and post about them over the next few days. I'd love it if you'd read and comment along. If you got this far, I'm impressed.
What about you? Who were your role models when you were a girl?