I am so split on the whole ‘woman’ thing. I grew up in Santa Cruz, California in the 1980s. I never thought about being female, as in I never thought ‘Oh, I can’t do that’ because I was a girl. It was always about me being the best- FULL STOP- not the best for a girl. It was not until I was in my teens that I even thought there was or could be some sort of differentiation between being simply the top and being separated based on my vagina. In high school, I played boys’ water polo. We did not have a girl’s team, so with the boys I went. I could swim faster than any of them. Our coach would always start me off as the one who charged for the ball at the beginning of each game. I loved it, as the opposing team would be snarky, not even trying to hide their laughter that A GIRL was the one setting off to get first control of the ball, thus the game. I revelled in the disbelief as time and again I had the ball in my possession long before our rivals. Our coach encouraged me to grab and rip as many of the Speedos of the other team as I could, rewarding my efforts with a princely sum of $5 per destroyed suit.
It wasn’t until later that I really reflected on the experience: the surprise that a girl could be not just as good, but BETTER than a boy. Why was it so shocking?
Here we are at the start of 2019, and we are still having this conversation. On one hand, OF COURSE it is great that efforts are made to highlight the still gapping disparity between representation, pay and accessibility between women and men. But with 49.55% of the GLOBAL population being female, it seems trite, sad and bizarre that we are still seen as a ‘minority.’ In the music industry, which I have now worked in for (gulp) 30 years, why is it still a ‘story’ when a woman fronts a band, a group is composed entirely of females, or someone of the ‘gentler’ nature heads up a massive creative industry company?
It’s so cliché, it’s so boring, but all I can think is that we still do not have the right balance of mirroring. As a Gen Xer, who do I see above ME that I want to be? As a teenage girl wanting to play bass, guitar, write music, dare I say take up the drums, who do you have to look up to? I don’t think I have ever ACTIVELY been on the hunt for ‘other people like me,’ but it is subconscious, IT MUST BE. How can I dream, imagine, plan, create a path where I do not see one? It’s like looking at a ceiling and planning how to fly through it up to the sky when you do not know the sky is there- all you see is the barrier directly above.
So am I happy there is International Women’s Day? I guess so. But everyday should be a ‘Woman’s Day,’ as we mentor, encourage and pave the way for our own personal better selves and those that come after us.