I’ve spent years assuming that I was shut out of the boys’ club. That they knew so much more than I did. That they were exposed to so much more than I was.
Recently, though, I read a wonderful post by an author that made me realize that my assumption is terribly, horribly wrong.
See, I’m not nearly as isolated as men are.
Oh, sure, I don’t have the conversations that I thought they had when they were in the restroom (turns out they don’t talk as much as we do). Or on the golf course (not that I know many people who play). Or at the three-martini lunch (does that even happen anymore?).
On second thought, maybe I am slightly more isolated in the business world. HBR published a recent article on how women aren’t helped out as much as men are at the very beginning of their careers.
But you know where I’m not isolated? My imagination. My dreams. My role models.
When I was a little girl, I could read biographies of both men and women without worrying about whether people would make fun of me just because I was reading about the other gender. I could play sports more easily than my brothers could take dance lessons. (Although I sucked at them. I sucked at dance, too.)
I could be obsessed with JFK and Albert Einstein right alongside Corrie ten Boom and Eleanor Roosevelt. I could picture myself following in the footsteps of either Jonas Salk or Jackie O without judging myself. I could follow my grandfather to college without worrying about being mocked or skewing my gender identity.
If I were a boy, that wouldn’t be so easy.
If I were a boy, I’d have to hide an obsession with princesses. As a girl, I could be completely obsessed with Harry Potter, no questions asked. Growing up, I did exactly that. I read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys with equal fervor (although I preferred the tomboy Trixie Belden, even if she hated math).
If I were a boy, I wouldn’t be encouraged to find role models of both genders. I wouldn’t read many books by women authors. If I didn’t fight against it, I’d easily be stuck in a man’s world and surrounded by completely male points of view.
If I were a boy, I could miss out on the viewpoint of half of my species. As a girl, I didn’t really have a choice – the male viewpoint was in front of me, and I was encouraged to look at things from a female viewpoint as well.
I grew up as a female, so I have a broader view. I didn’t have to fight for it. It just happened. For this, I feel extraordinarily fortunate.