It’s Different For Girls

Different for girls - Female Superheroes in hot pants - Supergirl has a very short skirt on - Wonder woman in pants whispers to Teela in pants “Gym skirt again?! ...Bet she got her period.”

Growing up in the late 70s and 80s, there were only a very few exciting role models for girls if you didn’t aspire to be a superhero in hot-pants, or a Prime Minister with a swinging brick for a heart, hated throughout the land, but I digress… 

Luckily for me, I have always struggled to pick up on social cues, or miss them entirely, and because gender is mainly a social construct I failed to notice it’s existence.

Two girls with sticks - Kate “It’s a Fairy-wand!” Me “It’s a Light-Saber!” Dog: “It’s clearly a stick.”

It genuinely never occurred to me that I couldn’t grow up to be Indiana Jones or Magnum PI, …or B.A. Baracus, and I was going to grow up to be the hero, the tough guy, the main character in my own story.

Me as BA Baracus on the Titanic shouting “I’m the king of the world! Fool.”

The only female character I could ever really get on board with was Princess Leia, partly because she was smart, independent and could fight like the boys, but also because my Mum had that exact weird Danish-pastry hairstyle on her wedding photo and it was both familiar and comforting.

Black and white pic of my mum with Leia buns and a bouquet

As I got older, the social cues for how I “should” behave as a girl got stronger and stronger, to the point where even I couldn’t ignore them anymore.

Initially I was devastated, I had already mapped out my life as a private investigator, with a side-line in treasure-hunting, who would eventually see out my days as a lovable hobo – I couldn’t do any of that as some stupid girl.

Young me giving my hobo stick (ala Dick Whittington) to a hobo saying “You might as well have this, I’ll never get to use it apparently.”

As a teenager I started to grow boobs, great boobs, and with great boobs came great power, and not a lot of responsibility, and finally I got on board with being a girl. 

…Unfortunately, I was a little behind on actually being a girl and it took me a good few years to catch up on some important socially-constructed behaviour.

Kate: “Great boobs yes, but you’ll find them more effective if you shave your damn legs!” Me in tight dress with incredibly hairy legs considering this carefully.

Even after that it wasn’t a smooth ride because, on top of the personal grooming issues and behavioural expectations, I’d never really learnt how to talk to girls, all I knew was how to talk AT them – to this day I remain a proud and accomplished woman-splainer.

The power of my boobs has now diminished, or at least changed.  Don’t get me wrong they’re still a knock out, but in more of a physically capable of rendering a passer-by unconscious than impressing them kind of a way.

Short man lying unconscious with a black eye and stars circling his head - me apologising “Sorry I swung around too quickly and hit you with what was almost certainly the corner of my shopping bag...”

When I look back at my life so far I feel happy and proud to be a girl BUT I do wish I hadn’t let embracing being a girl distract me from realising that I was right first time round; there was no reason I couldn’t be Magnum PI.  

…Frankly, at this age, I don’t even have to rule out being able to achieve a Tom Selleck level moustache.

I look at the world now and I see fabulous role models for girls everywhere; amazing comedians, powerful pop divas, women in science, art, even politics, and to my utter delight actual female Ghostbusters AND Jedis. 

I’m not naïve enough to assume it’s a done deal, I’ve seen progress before following by a period of recession, but it makes me unbelievably happy to know that this generation of girls could grow up without the assumption that they have to be the sidekick in life.

4 thoughts on “It’s Different For Girls”

  1. I love it! I cracked up a couple times reading this! Those damn boobs …I can’t wait to rip my bra off at the end of every night! I want you to know that you can still be a PI! It is never too late. I know you have boys, so I want you to know that my girls are movers and shakers! Great post!

    1. Aw, thanks Sandy! I am still considering becoming a PI – partly due to what is almost certainly a mid-life-crisis, and also cos Magnum PI is still the coolest! x

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