Friday, July 29, 2016

Growing up girl

Terry Orr, me, Jackie McLees and Marilyn McLees (year and age debatable

 When I was in kindergarten at Jefferson School in 1956 I was in an outdoor pageant. I think every kid in the school was.

But the kindergartners were part of the story of settling the West. Jackie (above) was a settlers "wife" and was riding in a covered wagon. Terry was a cowboy (I think---give me a break it was a few moons ago that this all happened!)

I was suppose to be an Indian "squaw" and stay in the background around the teepee.

Well, I objected. And apparently I objected loudly. I wanted to be in the war party. I was told that girls weren't part of war parties. I saw no sense in that.

So my grandmother sewed me a fringed "Indian" dress and my mom got me a toy bow and arrow and somehow, I was allowed to run from the back towards the "settlers" screaming at the top of my 5 year old lungs, waiving my bow and arrow. I was part of the "war party"!

I was 5.

When I was 8 I was told that I couldn't go fishing with my dad and brothers because it was too dangerous for a girl.

When I was 13 I was told that I couldn't run in track because it might damage my private parts.

When I was 16 I was told that I needed to be "more appealing" (translation: sexier looking) And just a note of reality--I am built exactly like my father---skinny legs, rounded belly, no waist and no butt! I was a tomboy and built like one.

When I was 22, living in Florida, I was told that I could not buy a car without the signature of my father or my husband. My spouse was in a B-52 somewhere over or nearly over VietNam and my father was in California.

In the late 70's, as a single mom, I was told that I could only work as a secretary at minimum wage.

I objected. I had a beautiful, smart daughter and I would provide for her. So I decided to go to law school.

I was told that I would not be allowed to work in a courtroom.
I was told I wasn't smart enough. 

My first interview out of law school started with this question (from a guy in a blue suit):
 "So, why does a pretty young thing like you want to be working in law?"

 I left.

When I began my career in a courtroom I allowed judges and other attorneys to bully me into taking a back seat. It took me a few years but that no longer happens. I strive to keep my power, my words.

Those are just the highlights that immediately came to mind when Hillary Clinton took the stage to accept the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States. 

And I thought of all the slings and arrows that she has taken. I thought of all the slings and arrows most women have taken in this world.

And I cried.

I didn't think I would. I didn't think it would bring up old stuff. But it did.

All the times I was told that I was less than a boy. All the times I was told I wasn't as smart as a boy (when I knew I was) All the times I had to find different ways to get to my goals because I didn't have the boy connections. They all came forward in those few minutes.

I can and have let go of most of the feelings of anger and frustration. But I will always remember all those times. I will hold them close and cherish them. They made me who I am.

And the beautiful, smart daughter?

She went from picking cherries to picking juries.

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