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11.05.2011

Sarah Josepha Who?

Lunch at McDulgence with 2 boys (their idea of a treat, not mine) and figured I'd blog on some peripherals since all seems well with the kids.

This past week I wrote a few times about some women I love and respect. They are but a small fraction of the women I look up to in this life, both those I know and those who inhabit the larger world now and through history. As I'm sure my regular readers know, I want the boys to have a clear and strong respect for women but it's not so easy because of this still is a world defined by men. For a school aged girl to assert herself as an equal with boys she has to do it through the prism of being demure, constantly pretty and appearing less intelligent. Not only does that make her less equal, but creates the frame that young boys must see her through. Sure, life is more equal than ever before but the rules still demand girls fit a man's role for her before she can then be herself. Imagine a boy and girl toddlers dropped on the proverbial desert island to survive there alone. Would the boy automatically assume the dominant role? Would the girl decide that primping and cooking were her best features? Is there any other species on Earth that we assign female traits like those we impose on women? The answer to all three questions of course is a resounding obviously not. Yet that's the world we inhabit.

A bobble head of Sarah Hale
Our town is the birthplace of Sarah Josepha Hale, a nineteeth century writer and editor, most remembered for writing Mary Had A Little Lamb, and a strong advocate for women. Sarah is a good example of a strong woman in a man's world. She helped increase women's ability to express themselves but only through the role provided by men.

I want the boys to grow up without seeing those trappings but that's a hard sell. It means accepting that girls can behave differently while wanting the same things boys do. It means the only way it will ever change is if men work with women to tear down those not so subtle walls.