Of Hoses and the Women who wield them

It`s Thursday again and this follows on last week Thursday’s post on Stereotypes: I`m cross-linking with Jeremy at Urban Trash. So, mosey on down there when you’ve finished here and have a look-see at what he has to say on the same topic. More or less…. (hold onto your chair when you do…it’s funny!!)

So, when I was about 12 I announced that I absolutely finally have made up my mind. I was going to be a fireman. Well, that`s great…except you`ll be a firewoman and little girls aren`t supposed to play with fire, are they?, said my Aunt. Now firstly, this happened after I had absolutely finally decided to be an actor, doctor, boss (don`t ask) and a vet. So, I wasn`t too put out. I was absolutely finally sure I was going to change my mind again anyway. But my aunt putting my absolute final dream`s inaccessibility down to gender and age just didn`t sit right. Especially as I had just obviously displayed my prowess at fire dowsing by dumping litres of water onto the braai.

I couldn`t quite understand why I couldn`t be a fireman. Why did I have to be a firewoman? I mean….sure. They had these big hoses (well, technically most boys have hoses. BIG being the debatable question…but I hear it`s not about size. I digress…). And they have a red truck to play with! With sirens! And they had a fireman`s suit. What makes a firewoman different to a fireman?

I asked the FPU (Female Parental Unit) who, in all her wisdom said something like, You aunt`s crazy. Do whatever you want to do, my baby. The boss idea was the best so far by the way.

My early years were that of single parenting. One mommy, who occasionally had to be daddy. She worked, paid the bills, drove just about anything with an engine, caught and gutted fish with flair and knew how to fix stuff around the house. There was no need to employ any uncles.

I grew up understanding, but never having been explained to, that there is no difference between Krisma Boet and I. He had to cook now and then. And he had chores similar to that of my sister and I. We all did the dishes and the cleaning and had turns making sarnies for school. We all had to help paint the house (in my case it was a disaster, but that`s for another post), clean the garden (I ate a caterpillar once on a dare from Krisma Boet…once again, another post) and we shared toys. Not bought Barbie dolls or racing cars. Made toys. Ketties and bows and arrows made of reeds cut in the vlei. We bred tadpoles (technically we caught tadpoles and they kind of did their own thing…but we felt we were running a thriving business of farming our tads and frogs to the resident kids. We were cool.)

Today, I work in an industry that was for years male dominated. Male positions of power. Even male positions of non-power. My absolute final knowledge that I am no different to anybody no man or woman makes my life a tad harder at times.

Many of you know this of the Princess Echoes…28, single, accomplished in my career to a certain degree, independent and just a tad too driven. Gender stereotyping has not been kind to the single and single-minded career woman living in her own space, paying her own bills and occasionally changing her own light bulbs. My male friends have often told me that this intimidates men. The inherent need to go out and hunt, to protect and to fix is thwarted in the face of my determined independence.

I am no feminist. I love wearing my rokkies with nice skoene. I love being romanced and, like any girl, I like to feel safe and protected.

However, in a world where we have come to understand (for years) that women play a certain role in society and men the other, things have become rather confusing of late. Women do men`s jobs, men stay at home and look after kiddies. Fewer women want to have kids and men say that women do not know their place. In fact, a simply thing like ‘shall I open the car door for her` becomes a 10 minute agonising decision. *ouch*

Gender stereotyping…Be careful. It can kill ya`. Our preconceived notions of what may and may not happen in the dance between the sexes can be the death of a relationship whether that is a business, personal or physical relationship.

So what of my aspirations to become a fireman? *smile* I`d rather meet a fireman, thank you. They have big hoses and play with red trucks. But I will not accept anybody relegating me to the position of ‘little woman` and I will not stand back for any other goal or dream I might have because society says to me that I am a woman and, by nature, should not be able to or want to do accomplish certain goals.

But, I`ll be damned if I`m going to be the boss and I`m not allowed to wear my rokkie as well….

with nice skoene.

Do not box me. I will dump litres of water on your gender stereotyping ideals.

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