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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.