What It Means To Me Be A Woman (What My Mum Taught Me)steemCreated with Sketch.

in feminism •  7 months ago

What does it mean to be a woman?

First of all I want to say that to be a woman all you have to do is identify as one. Then I'd like to tell you a story about my mum and how she raised me and my sister.

When I was growing up, my mum was a carpenter and my dad was a nurse. I wasn't even aware that was unusual. I had a great start in terms of gender norms, it was instilled from as early as I could remember that nothing was off limits because of gender.

"My parents building a conservatory together (early 90s)"

My mum trained to be a carpenter in the late 80s, she told me recently that stepping into the workshop and working with tools and wood felt like being home, like she'd suddenly found what she was meant to be doing. Sure, some of the guys on her course scoffed at her for even being there, but she didn't stop and her teacher was supportive so she didn't care. The college she went to had daycare and I remember being 3 or 4 and walking alongside her when she picked me up and looking at all the wood shavings in the turn ups of her trousers. I grew up thinking my mum could build or fix anything and I wanted to be just like her. My grandma even made me a tool bag, just like my mum's, and filled it with tiny tools-not plastic ones, real proper tools, just tiny.


The playhouse my mum built us; me (left), my sister (back) and the neighbourhood kids


When I got older, she started teaching me how to fix things, even when I was really young. If a plug socket needed rewiring or the lights tripped she'd always have me and my sister sit and watch so we could learn to do it ourselves. She never said it was because we didn't need men or that we shouldn't think that we couldn't do it just because we were women, she just said "you need to learn how to be self-sufficient". Now, if something in my home breaks, I always try to work it out for myself, then I call my mum, then if we can't work it out I'll call a professional. That's the process.


Me with my first drum kit (8 years old)

My mum was determined not to raise us to think we couldn't or shouldn't, just because we were girls. She always told us we could wear whatever we liked, have our hair however we liked and never told us "that's not for little girls". She also knew that it ran deeper than something that she could just teach by telling. Gender norms are so ingrained in our culture that it takes much more than just telling. She knew she had to consciously and constantly watch what she said or didn't say for the risk of us learning society's gender norms, almost by osmosis, the things she didn't even really notice in herself.

She told me recently that, before my older sister was born, she read a book all about this. The book described a study that had been done showing that even parents who said that they wanted to treat their children equally, regardless of gender, still let their male children run further or climb higher, before they called them back. The parents in the study didn't even realise they were doing this. My mum told me this really stuck with her. She was determined not to allow us to be held back by her fears. One day we were at the park, me and my sister in our rollerblades, I was about 6 and my sister 9. We'd got to the play park and my sister had climbed to the top of the climbing frame, in her roller blades! Me, being the younger sister, of course followed her up there, not to be outdone by my big sister. So, as I clambered higher and higher and my sister began hanging upside down from her knees right at the top, my mum watched us. We were calling out to her "Mum look! Look!" Every part of her wanted to call us down, but she was determined not to let her fear of heights stop us. Other parents began looking over to her, willing her to get us down, but she just kept cheering us on, telling us how well we were doing. I think that has stuck with me throughout my life, fear doesn't stop me. I feel it, but I know that it's ok to be scared and to go for it anyway.

IMG_2591.JPG

Me and my sister at Vancouver pride 1998 (I'm on the right)

My mum is my hero, she taught me that anything can be achieved with hard work and practice. She taught me to give it a go, whatever 'it' is. She taught me to get up every time I fall (and I fell a lot!) In a nutshell, she taught me that if somebody can do it, I can do it. I'm so grateful to the lessons my mother taught me and I know that when I have kids, if I can do even half as good of a job as her, then my children will have everything they need to conquer the world!

My wonderful parents: My Dad, my Mum's partner, Luise and my Mum
My Mum in her workshop (she now has a framing business)

Which lessons have stuck with you over the years?
Is there any particular values you're determined to teach your children?
If you already have children, how do you put this in to practice?
Let me know, big love!
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Oh man, this has so much impact! Just a thousand fuck yeahs for you and your mom.

That is the kind of mom I aspire to be, and its the kind of sibling and babysitter I try my hardest to be too. It takes a good deal of effort to watch what you say. I am a rebel, but I still am conditioned a bit so I still have to watch out for that! And, it is even harder to unwork the conditioning I went through to become less stuck in gender roles. Yet, one step at a time, we get closer!

Bravo to you and your mom, and thank you for sharing your story! I do hope to see more from you on feminism and the like, sounds like you got the spirit down pat! Also, please do come and chat at team girl powa discord, if you have not already!

Thank you! -@skycae - journalist mod at @teamgirlpowa

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Thanks for your comment :)

Yeah it takes a lot from everybody to bring about the end of social gender norms but we can get there, like you said, little by little.

I haven't stopped by but I'll come check it out.

I'm on a bit of a mission to promote women's skateboarding, I'm about to head off to Palestine to coach skateboarding in the West Bank, so I plan to write a lot about that and then I want to do it again somewhere else. They have charities doing this kind of work in Iraq, Cuba, India... I'm thinking Columbia might be good to go to next. Girl power/gender equality through skateboarding - That's my mission!

I was raised on a farm, we where all taught to do everything and help out with the chores, my mom was a business owner, and CEO of her own tech start up but she still made dinner and changed the tractor tires, when I had kids I showed them the same lvl of work cross over, I used to tell my son all the time, "work has no gender it just needs to get done." Thank you so much for this it was a very enjoyable read!!

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Ahh living off grid that is what it is like. Although I cannot lift such heavy stuff thats just because I dont work out lol. I still am a wood-chopper and dirt digger! -@skycae

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It's such an important value to have and nurture in children. It's great to hear what stuck with someone else :)

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"work has no gender it just needs to get done."

That's such a great saying, @steampunk-penny!

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Thank you! I find its helpful in life🦄💜🦄 it worked well for my kids I think😁

Awesome article , I hope that along with financial norms being challenged by Bitcoin we can also challenge gender norms.

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Thanks Stick! Keep pushing, in skateboarding and gender equality!

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So happy to come back and see you got a real good upvote good job. How is that heelflip comming along .

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Ha ha the heelflips have been parked for the time being, I'm concentrating on my ollies and half cabs, trying to get that height and become really comfortable on the board and then I'm gonna circle back to the heelflips when I've got some hang time to work with :)

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oooh half cabs one of my favs, I have found with half cabs and popping and turning fakie things it is really just the smallest of taps on the tail combined with some good speed to get them up and lofty. In skating you quickly discover whether you are fakie or nollie . I am a fakie person and half cabs are definatly my thing . Will maybe try do some sort of tutorial

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Yes, please do! I was gonna do a vid of them on Thurs at Girls' night but I just totally failed, couldn't get them at all. I think they'll really help with my 180 ollies too.

Congratulations @ambermayormaynot!
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I love your mom already. And your dad, you don't talk about him that much here, but I can take one look at his quirky raised eyebrow smirk in the picture you shared at the end of the post and I can tell I like him as well :)

What a great post. The family pictures you shared were perfect, the perfect illustrations for the points you were making. You tackle some serious issues here in gender norms, parenting roles, sexuality, but do it through a moving tribute to your mom that no one could be offended by. I love that these important issues are normalized in your post itself! They are not dragged unnecessarily into the spotlight, you didn't make a big deal about it, I saw the picture of you and your sis in the pride parade and your mom with her partner Luise and saw them as normal parts of a healthy happy family full of love and light - and that is how it should be! It is normal! It is healthy! Thank you for sharing your awesome family with the world. Resteemed.

Much love - Carl

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Thank you so much Carl, I'm so glad you enjoyed it :) I'm so grateful for my weird and wonderful family. I'm going to keep writing about them and everything they've taught me and everything I was was normalised for everyone, just like you said. I'm also trying to get my mum on steemit so you might get chance to meet her (sort of) :) xx

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Yay! That would be awesome if mum joined!

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This is one of my favourite posts this week, @carlgnash. So glad @curie saw it and gave it a much deserved boost! It makes me happy to see this important, inspiring content be rewarded on the blockchain.

What an inspiring and powerful post, thank you for that @ambermayormaynot

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Thanks for stopping by SBS :)

I absolutely love this. Tears in my eyes right now, as a mother, thinking of how strong your mother was in her conviction to let you be free. I would have called my children down out of fear. Now I'll think twice before I do that. What a wonderful post!

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Thank you so much! I'm so glad that you saw and enjoyed the article. I'm eternally grateful for the strength my mum showed when raising me and my sister. As I get older it sort of unfolds as I understand increasingly how hard some of these things must've been for her. Thanks for stopping by.