You might think that I hate being a woman. Freud certainly thought so about pretty much every female, anyway. And I did spend those early years of my life dressing like a lumberjack and wishing I were a boy so my mom wouldn’t make me wear dresses… Still, I love being a woman and I am so proud of what I’ve accomplished in my life as one.
But driving into the city today, I realized that if you were an alien from another planet—or even another country—and you took a peek at the billboards on your journey, you might think that my gender is a sorry thing to be. First, there’s the casino ad with an ecstatic old man sandwiched between two scantily-clad, buxom women shoving their assets in his face. Hmm. A woman must be a prize or part of what you get if you go to this casino, right?
Cue next billboard: an anti-abortion ad. Well, since women are the only beings who can get pregnant on this planet but there are ads telling them what to do with their bodies, that must mean that they are owned by the public. Further research would indicate that laws mirror this statement.
The next billboard isn’t as bad. It’s a Halloween costume shop advertising fun Halloween opportunities to play dress up. However, upon the alien’s further inspection while visiting said shop, he/she/it sees lots of fun costumes meant for men—as indicated by the photos on top of the costume packaging—while all of the costumes designed for women are just like the first billboard, allowing them to display their bodies as objects—even the little girls’ costumes. (Note: I’m all about being sexy when you want to be. But I’m also all about having the choice to be scary or just plain fun, too—and for NOT making little girls into objects!)
My almost seven-year-old daughter was in the backseat and all I could think about was how she was interpreting these signs. Like me, she often says she’d rather be a boy. She doesn’t like the “girls toy aisle,” and she would rather be a werewolf, vampire, or cat for Halloween—the kind that bites and has blood, not the kind with a teeny, tiny skirt. All I can do is talk to her about these and get her thinking critically—while hopefully teaching her she is worth so much more than her body—while fuming that I have to in the first place. I love my job and don’t mind teaching her about anything, but I also demand a better world for half the people who inhabit it.