Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Girls

A post for the gallery

Better late than never, I have been pondering all week on what it means to be a girl

My post for the boys showed geekydaddy and his little son, so I found a picture of me and my little girl for this week.

I had always wanted a little girl. My first two pregnancies ended in miscarriage, but for those weeks beforehand, I fantasized about a baby girl called Geekygirl. Well obviously not actually called Geekygirl, but with her real name, a name I chose for my daughter before I even chose a husband.

My sister and my best friend back in the UK both had girls first (and second and third), and I longed for a little girl of my own. I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe because growing up as a girl is something I know how to do. I longed for a fierce and feisty girl, determined and opinionated and passionate. That is exactly what we got, and I soon learned that these qualities, so wonderful in an adult woman, make for a rather challenging little girl!

I'm excited about her future. What a world it is now for girls. Many people worry about the pinky princessification permeating the world of our female children.  Peggy Orenstein, an author who writes thought provoking books and articles about issues affecting women addresses this in her upcoming new book, "Cinderella ate my daughter". I'm looking forward to reading it. I'm not too worried though. The choices facing our girls are so dazzling,  and I don't just mean the variety of sequined hello kitty shirts in Target, that I think the explosions of freedoms for women are worth the downsides. 

I reserve the right to change my mind if geekygirl chooses to be a pole dancer rather than an an astronaut though.

We recently watched the movie "an education". In it a bright young girl struggles between a future at Oxford university, or being the plaything of a dodgy but glamorous older man. In one scene she challenges her headteacher, the wonderful Emma Thompson, to tell her what the world can offer an educated woman, since all she sees around her are spinster teachers. The movie was set in the mid 1970's, very recently to my mind. The girl in the movie would have been about ten years older than I am, but in terms of opportunity for women it seems so very long ago,

My new workplace, a biotech company, has more than fifty percent women on the scientific staff. I sit in meetings where there are twelve women to two men. Amazing, smart, driven, brilliant women (and men too). It is humbling and thrilling to be around them. Many of them love shoes and clothes as much as they love genes and proteins, so I'm cautiously confident that despite dressing up as princesses and loving pink, our daughters will be able to decipher the mixed messages in our society, and forge their own career paths in ever greater numbers.

On balance I think that right now is a great time to be a girl.