Whenever I first tell someone that I went to an all girl school for high school their reaction is typically something along the lines of asking how we met boys (it is possible), if all we did was make out in the hallways, read magazines, do each others hair and makeup, or gossip. Yes a lot of the “typical girl” things did happen but I am pretty sure just as much went on in co-ed environments too…
Anyways, going to a single sex school in high school shaped who I am as a person a lot more than I thought it would. At school it was very obvious that boys weren’t present, but that being said, it was not just that they were not physically there but also the fact that we were not affected by the role that society deems males should play. Men and women traditionally take on gender roles that are based on norms created by society, but we did not have those men to take on those roles therefore women had to fill them. This allowed for each student to create her own identity without having to worry about whether or not, because she was a girl, it was acceptable for her to do so.
It is culturally engrained in young boys and girls minds from the time that they are born that they must dress a certain way, like a certain color, not play with certain toys, and act a certain way in order to be accepted as their gender within society. Verizon recently came out with a commercial that demonstrates how words can affect a way a girl grows up and how it can shape her interests. By saying small things such as “don’t get your dress dirty” or “give that to your brother,” you are telling that girl what she can and cannot do because she is a girl. If a young boy was playing in the dirt it would be highly unlikely that someone would make a comment about him needing to stay clean but they would say something more along the line of “he’s just a boy, it is what they do.”
Suzy, a member of the United States Army, came and spoke to us about her work as a soldier and being a woman. The two things that she discussed that I believe are the two most important things are: 1) equality and 2) respect. Suzy was put in a lot of situations in which she was the minority when it came to gender because she was a woman in an occupation which is typically seen as “man’s work.” She explained that she wore Old Spice deodorant and wore a wedding ring as “protective tactics” so that she would be seen more like an equal rather than a subordinate. She was the only woman at her combat outpost, which would make her standout, but she wished to be treated no differently than anyone else was treated and to be treated with respect.
I am not ashamed to be a woman and I definitely not ashamed to be a feminist. I am very proud of my gender but I don’t believe that people should do things specifically because their gender indicates that they should. If I am better at cooking than a man, then I’ll cook. If he is better, then he will cook. It should not be that because I am a woman, I am supposed to be the one cooking and cleaning or because he is a man he needs to be the “bread-winner” and take care of me. Society’s social norms should be based off of equality and respect rather than trying to separate the sexes based on trivial things like colors and toys.