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  • 09/22/2003
  • WildlandFire.com Team
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While I understand and respect your position on “being singled out simply because you’re female” I don’t agree with it. Which is okay, right? We have that latitude here. In a crew scenario, I certainly do agree that group cohesiveness is crucial and gender differentiation for the purpose of function is not only counter productive, but can be downright dangerous for the entire crew.

But, you have stepped to the plate on an issue that has been alive and well for a number of decades…There are valid points on both sides. But, I for one, fully support applauding and shining a light on strong women in occupations they previously weren’t allowed to set foot in. By doing that, we’re NOT saying “Hey, look she’s s-p-e-c-i-a-l.” The message should be a clear and resounding, “She’s strong and capable and has succeeded in an area where her passion is. And you can do it too if that’s what you want.”

Nerd, that’s the message us older folks have been trying to get across to our daughters and our granddaughters. But, the message, if it has been successful, doesn’t come across in billboards and picket signs. It comes to you by opened doors and occupational (and income..) opportunity… It comes in the form of freedoms and options…yours to pursue should you CHOOSE.

Let me broach the subject of competition…If you haven’t had your face slammed up against a grisly monster called “The Good Ole Boy Network” yet, that actually would be unfortunate. Because, once you do, the understanding of competitive advantage comes blazing through like a quasar. Having slogged through that swamp many, many times over the years, I know full well that being a woman has been used against me in order for my competitors to win. “She’s just overemotional. It must be “that” time of the month. She’s just being oversenstive. She’s overly aggressive.” On, and on, and on. Names and classifications used to derail straight forward issues. Only be keeping the issues on the table and refusing to hack into the “Red Herring” that’s repeatedly thrown on the table as bait, have I made progress in my chosen paths. I will say, however, that I have come to know incredible business people of both genders. Those are the individuals I look to for advice and guidance. I do think our society is growing weary of the whole gender equality debate. But, the debate surrounding South Africa’s Apartheid bored some folks too.

Yesterday we took BQ to the River Forks park at the confluence of the North and South Umpqua for a picnic. There is this incredible fort structure there that encloses a kid’s play area. BQ really loved it because she’s enamored with Lewis and Clark right now. Her last summer hoorah was at OMSI’s Camp Kwanalong over at the coast for “Lewis & Clark Adventurer” camp. Anyway, she was having a blast, playing with her cousins and some other kids. There was a young boy who sauntered into the fort enclosure and started yelling “No Girls. Girls Out. No Girls. Only Boys.” Big deal right? BQ looked at him like he was an idiot and kept playing. My husband came around the corner with his camera and called to BQ to come sit with me on the cannon for a picture. She stopped and turned around…she was standing right by the boy. When my husband called her name (which is clearly very much a girl name…we don’t call her Bionicle Queen in public..) the boy’s mouth dropped open. BQ has short hair and refuses to wear barrettes, so, doesn’t look real girlish. The boy pointed to her and said “This one? This is ___? Right here?” I thought he was going to start crying. Why? Well, seems just a few minutes earlier they’d had a foot race out on the grass and BQ left him in the dirt. Why is this significant? Because it was okay for him to lose to a boy, but not to a girl. BQ just smiled a big smile and jumped down to come have her picture taken with me on the cannon. The boy stood there and glared.

How do mothers overcome this early conditioning? By raising healthy boys and girls who feel free to make their own choices and respect the choices of others.

Nerd, I’m thrilled you’re immersed in an occupation you very clearly enjoy and seem fulfilled in. I’ll say to you what I’ve said to my own daughters, put yourself on the outside of your current situation and look in on it. Pretend its Christmas time and you’re looking through a plate glass window at a treasure you know you’ll never touch. It wasn’t that long ago when that was exactly the case. The gratitude you can show is not ignoring the efforts that went into opening that opportunity for you. The gratitude can be shown by encouraging young people OF BOTH GENDERS to pursue their dreams regardless of outside societal and cultural pressures.


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