I wanted to be Hakeem Olajuwon. Then I injured my ankles. I wanted to be writer. I still sort of secretly harbor that ambition but at least I work in my chosen field. I believed in certain inalienable rights guaranteed to all humans...and then I went to college.
Backing up, there are many, many things about growing up in a tiny town that I resented and against which I've struggled for most of my life. It's an invisible cloak that, for better and worse, I will never shed. Small towns--and I'm talking a town of 2,500 residents--are gossip factories and offer limited resources. At the same time, though, I am well aware that, though I couldn't take Latin in high school, I could participate in any activity I chose. Sure, there were the mean girls who terrorized junior high and high school as detailed in the wonderful Queen Bees and Wannabes and Tina Fey's adaptation Mean Girls. By the fifth grade, though, I threw down, told the worst to go to hell, and though junior high had it's petty, girl-on-girl spats, I mostly worried about other things. Like band. And basketball. And academic competitions. And pretty much any activity in which I chose to participate. One of the good things about small towns is that in order to have teams and activities, everyone has to play, and there weren't stigmas about being a band geek or jock or whatever. The drum majors for the band were also captains on the football team and stars in the one act plays.
|These images are all over the web...|
and they are appalling.
I am proud of my job. I work in a field that was a childhood dream--I always wanted to be involved in some way with books (assuming that I'd never be Hakeem). I am proud of my sister, who always wanted to work in the space program and now is an aerospace engineer in a male-dominated field. I'm proud to work for a company where I see women at the top ranks of the management and make up a significant part of what was a boys club back in the day. I am treated as an equal with my male counterparts. Books are tricky, though. I also see what's selling, what the general reading public wants to read. I wonder if there's a chicken-and-egg argument going on here--do publishers print books glorifying submissive women because that's what readers want, or do readers want books about making the husband the focus of one's life because that's what we suggest is correct as publishers of the material? I think it's probably some of both.
This is a weird, weird, imperfect world.