My father was a school teacher during a time when females dominated the profession. They still do. Through my adolescent years I received conflicting messages as teachers tried to push me to excel in the academic areas that society deems acceptable for women, while discouraging me from things that were usually considered men territories.
On a macro level this taught me that my family was strange and I remember for a short period of time flipping the roles my parents played in the work world. I would tell others that my father was the biologist and my mother was the teacher. I believed it fit more with what the structure of society expected from a normal family and I was at an age where being a normal family was of utmost importance.
My friends at the time also fed into the gender difference beliefs as they began to eye the football team and cheerleading tryouts based solely on gender.
I had a friend named Bobby. Bobby was a boy who wanted very much to be a cheerleader. I happened to be at his house the day he announced this at the dinner table and the explosion will never leave my memory. His father called him names that H. had never heard come out of the mouth of an adult, met alone a father toward his son and he was told that I had to go home and he could not have me over again as it was about time he began socializing with men not women.
When I got home I was visibly shaken and my parents put me in the car and went to Bobby's house to discuss their treatment of me with the parents.
It was at that time that my macro sense when into overtime as I could see the writing on the wall. It happened exactly as I believed it would once the father of that family found out that my mother was a scientist and my dad was a teacher.
Let's just say that we left and I was told by my parents to never associate with that family again expect for Bobby at school.
In a micro way I was affected even more deeply as I found myself associating primarily with females and shunning the boys who had once been my friends. I felt dirty and ashamed as if I had somehow caused the problem with Bobby's family and I wanted to be sure I was never responsible for something like that again. I was going to be a girl if it killed me.
It was also during this time that the media caught my attention. Because I wanted to become a journalist during my middle school years I found myself paying close attention to the print media and the bylines that went with it. I found that several bylines in our local paper were female names and it excited me to no end to discover this was a profession in which women were allowed and apparently treated as equals.
This impacted me from a macro standpoint as I realized there was one small corner of the world in which women were in fact considered to be equal to men.
It was during this time in my life when my entire family converted to the practice of Catho9losicm. Talk about a macro gender shock! My entire life had been spent in the Methodist church. In this church there are not many female leaders but there are some and those who became pastors were treated with same respect and dignity that the men were afforded. We had a female pastor in our church for years before she left and Pastor Mike took over.
I am not sure why my parents decided we needed to explore the Catholic faith but they did and it had a significant impact on me from both a macro and micro standpoint.
The Catholic Church is probably the most sexist faith on earth. The men are allowed to become priests while women are only allowed to become nuns. For my entire life I had been fighting against a macro standpoint being forced upon me about a woman's place compared to a man's place and here I was in a faith that divided the genders into football and cheerleaders all over again.
A rebelled. I was angry. I spent every Sunday morning asking my mother how she could sell out the way she did, she a woman of science taking me to a church that insisted if I wanted to devote my life to God's work I must do it in a skirt called a habit and if my brother wanted to become a man of God he would be allowed to lead the church as a priest.
It angered me beyond words and I was shocked by my mother's conversion. The time spent in the Catholic Church during these years had a grave impact on me from a macro standpoint as I saw what society, at least Catholic society thought of women as compared to men and I was not happy.
When I became an adult I was allowed to be free of this faith and went to a faith that accepted all men and women as equals. I returned to the Methodist fold however, it was not as equal as my childlike memories had led me to believe it was.
When I arrived home to my faith I was ready to be embraced for being the open minded, gender savvy woman I believed myself to be however, I was disappointed to find that even in this faith there are gender divisions that cannot be ignored. We were expected to go to the women retreats where we would be taught to be better wives and helpmates to our husbands when we married, while the men were off learning how to better serve the Lord and control and run their families.
A loved the church but balked against being told that I must be subservient to my man.
Again my attitude from a macro sense was impacted because at this point it felt that every world religion divided men and women and the women got the short end of the stick.
I had spent my life fighting against such stereotyping but realized that I had been taught this from the day I entered preschool and had been fighting against it since that day.
I was tired, I was angry and I found myself refusing to go to church. I also realized that I had played into it while in high school when I let guidance counselors talk me into staying away from the math majors and working toward excelling in the world of literature.
I was appalled to look back and see how I had supported society's discrimination of women by my actions and decided as I entered college to change the world.
Imagine my surprise when I got to college and found I was fighting a non-existent battle.
My college experience helped to undo all of the years of macro insistence that men and women were to be treated differently.
It helped me to realize that it was not a bad society but poorly educated or underdeveloped individuals that I had been dealing with all of those years.
In college I was exploring my interests and nobody told me I should ignore certain areas because of my gender. After a lifetime of fighting an uphill battle I was finally allowed to be me and not be ashamed or told I was not normal because of who I was.
My macro sense was finally able to view the world as people without gender, however, I was old enough and wise enough to understand that this was a campus experience and out in the real world of work and adults there were still many issues that were unresolved.
My micro sense brought me to a place in which I was no longer the rebel and I was able to stop trying to prove myself and instead able to just be who I am and enjoy the interaction.
My family had left the Catholic Church and returned to the Methodist faith and I was once again proud of my mother's actions, profession and abilities.
All seemed right with the world from most corners however, in my work life things remained at odds.
When I began school I decided to get a job and supplement the funds my parents were providing. I wanted more spending money and if I wanted more they told me it was up to me to earn it. The first position I got was in a restaurant. I was a waitress. As a waitress I had many duties to fulfill. I had to serve, clean tables ring up customers and greet them at the door as they came in. It was the first place in my life that I experienced gender differences in a…