Monday, June 19, 2006

Gray Day in Gray Day dissolved

It’s June. I apologize but I promise I have a good excuse.

You see, the hours turn into day. And the days into weeks. And soon a month has gone by. I’m looking for that point where I close one chapter in my life and start a new one, but it refuses to allow itself to be pinned down.

I’m living in San Francisco now. For a bit anyway. Driving here has been hard. I hate the hills, I hate the dead ends and one way streets, I hate the blocks that aren’t really blocks at all but more like triangles, or perhaps trapezoids. I hate the constant presence of double-parked cars in these narrow streets.

It’s difficult, and unpleasant, but in the long run I’m sure it’s good for me. And all in all, a minor thing. Still, it makes me think.

What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. Cliché, cliché, cliché. But it does take a certain amount of clear-sightedness to recognize when something isn’t killing you. Or when something is worth dying (at least a little) for.

It takes me back to months ago, early this year. Now let me preface with I dislike children. But anyway, months ago I spoke to a group of girls about being a scientist. Because you can be anything if you set your mind to it, even compete in a field that was, for all practical purposes, exclusively male within the memory of my grandmother.

Strong, Smart, and Bold rah rah rah!

And then as I’m leaving, waiting to turn at a light a giant Coors truck passes in front of me with a giant Coors ad printed on the side. A brunette, perhaps a cheerleader or just dressed as one? See: skank, hootchy, dumb bitch (colloq.)

Poignant in its timing.

It brings to my mind just how much opposition these little girls are going to be facing as they grow up. An hour or so of afterschool programming is like sending someone off to do battle with a butter knife. Maybe a few of them will be resourceful enough to MacGyver some useful defense out of it but those will be the exception.

Like most things worth having, equality isn’t something that comes easily. If you’re pretty, and popular, and you derive enjoyment from the prescribed Girl Activities with little (only enough to keep your boyfriend company) enjoyment from the prescribed Boy Activities then maybe it won’t seem worth it.

Because yes, it will be harder to insist on paying your way and fixing your own messes. And if you don’t want to be an engineer or go to a trade school then it doesn’t really matter if you’re allowed or encourage to.

But I couldn’t really say if that’s truly the case, because I’m not like that and I don’t know if there are women who do possess those qualities and feel that way. Maybe there’s nobody really like that. But I have considered the possibility, and wondered: What if I wasn’t socially inept, nerdy, conventionally unattractive; a person to who conventional measures of gendered success neither came easily nor were terribly welcome?

Would I go as much, or at all, out of my way to always give as good as I get if it wasn’t as important for me to get as good as I give?

If equality weren’t essential for my happiness, if it was an esoteric concern instead of a visceral need, would I care to pay the price?

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