Poverty is a Woman’s Issue. Ending poverty and homelessness is a process best done by kick ass women.
I am a female working in a female dominated field with low income families who are overwhelmingly led by , you guessed it, females. If I took the time to research, I would hypothesis that the children in these low income, mother led families are also predominantly female. There are many reasons why poverty is more common among women and children – but you can read up on that issue another time.
We are here to talk about changing the world – one kick ass girl at a time. Girl, chick, woman, female, mama, lady, miss … I use these terms interchangeably. There is no indication of age or rank that you should be reading into the use of these words – so be prepared and keep up.
In the most rudimentary of groupings, I find my clients fall into two basic groups : the Kick Ass and the Ass Kicked. We will call them KA and AK , just so you can stop reading the word “ass”. Anyone sitting on the fence between them will find me applying pressure until they fall off on one side or the other.
Kick Ass.women grab on to their struggles and study them. Even when it is uncomfortable to face the realities of hunger, not having a living wage or any wage, parenting and personal traumas ,the KA woman does it anyway.
The Ass Kicked chicks wear their problems like capes and hide under them. These issues are the first thing you notice about the women and you can’t get to the actual woman until you have done some digging under the cloak.
My parents raised a kick ass girl amid gender stereotypes and their internal family pressures. That girl, of course, is me. Yes, that does sound narcissistic and you are probably squirming a little, uncomfortable for me. I understand where you are coming for, and I am a little uncomfortable for you right back. When you are kick ass you can’t turn down the volume on your awesomeness just to please the established gender and social stereotypes everyone looks through like they were Google Glass.
Do I sound like I love myself a little too much? I am cool with that. Having to spend every waking hour with myself – it did not seem prudent to hang out with a self loathing loser. The only person I know whose self adoration eclipses my own personal valuation was made God Mother to Darla primarily because Lisa understands and advocates her own worth and that of her companion
Gender Stereotypes :
Pink, pretty princess toys and dresses and a room that looked like a galaxy of exploding bubblegum stars was trapped in it. Cooking and baking and sewing. I joined a social sorority called Job’s Daughters through the Masons. I wore heals and stockings to highschool on regular school days. I dreamed about boys and kissing boys and pierced my own ears and secretly wore makeup before I could permissibly do so. I owned 2 sets of hot curlers, 2 hair dryers and curling irons in a variety of barrels sizes. My closet overflowed with formal gowns and I owned more than one tiara. My mother was bent on giving me the frilly childhood that she had been deprived of as the older sister to three brothers.She was invested making sure I was comfortable as a woman and would feel confidant in the role I was expected to play. Mom’s only unexpected approach was to ban me from Barbie Dolls so I would not feel disapointmed when I grew up to have a body without curves ( the joke is on her, I am stacked).
I also built my own play house with my Dad using chalk string, saws, nails and paint. ( Don’t worry, my mom hand sewed pink gingham curtains and bought me a small pink rug for the floor. ) I played Little League ( and sucked at it) dug for worms, learned to fish, can change a tire and oil and kill a snake. There were plenty of physical fights in my childhood ( Sammy should not have thrown that orange at me) and I never lost any of them. I all but lived in my Levi Jeans and Chucks when possible and all of my favorite friends were the boys in my neighbor hood : the Quigley brothers, Allan Whitaker and Doug McCreary. Incidentally – they were all raised my amazing and strong women. My dad also had a sister who was the lone girl in a pack of brothers, so he experienced the importance of a girl being able to hang out with boys and hold her own. Although he has never said it – I got the impression from him that the only social ideal I needed to have for myself was the idea of who I wanted to be and accomplish.
I am boring you with this personal information to inform you of my perspective. My mother never made my father stop building things with me or engaging in typical “boy” activities. My father didn’t ban my mother from all the girly stuff. Neither of them thought they were crippling me by showing me the entire spectrum of my capabilities as well as educating me about how the greater world would try to see a female and pigeon hole her.
My parents were brilliant. Applause for my parental units should go right here.
To be sure, I never blended in and I developed into an unconventional adult. These are not bad things. Because I was raised to embrace my skills and find my own interests, I was never hobbled by limits that other people were.
At my desk I see mother after mother who never developed an identity outside of her social role. She had sex because she was validating her worth by how much desire she created in a man. She married because she was a young woman and young women marry. She had a child and dropped out of school because a woman belongs in the home raising children and making her husbands’ life pleasant. She spent every moment of her life following the appropriately sanctioned activities for women and all of those paths included placing her future into the hands of another person to define. When that did not work out well, these women were lost and became financially impoverished as well as emotionally adrift.
Let’s revisit Godmother Lisa Ferguson for a minute. Lisa is a music loving, cigar smoking sports fanatic who tends to travel internationally on a regular basis. Her primary identity is as a devoted sister, loving daughter, as well as a wife and a mother to three children and two cats. Twenty five years ago, when I met her, she was a firecracker. Lisa was a music loving, cigar smoking sports fanatic who tends to travel on a regular basis – but also working a full time job and ran a personal social calender that required detailed notations in a Day Planner, aka “Her Life”. What makes Lisa a Kick Ass lady is her ability to stay true to who she wants to be and love herself when she gets into difficulties. Lisa is very Laura Croft and the most likely all my friends to become an action movie hero.
My job is technically titled “Case Manager” – but in truth I am Alfred from the Batman Comics. It is my job to take lost and needy people and transform them into the heroes of their own lives. I build Kick Ass Women. I do this professionally and personally because, as it happens, I too am a mother of girls. It is exhausting to be your own unique self. Gender stereotypes are more than vague ideas or the difference between “Boy toys” and “Girl toys” in McDonald’s Happy Meals. Emptionally it feels like I am pushing against everyone else and sometimes that makes me feel bad, guilty, wrong, unsure and more. I take those (not too rare) moments to pop on Facebook or look at my contacts list on my cell phone. My Newsfeed on Facebook is not random. Every person I stay n contact with via social media was chosen for a reason – they mean something to me personally and they inspire me to be a better person. I put effort into maintaining friendships with women whom I admire. Most of them are Kick Ass Women, some of them are not and I use them as a guideline to validate my choices and measure my happiness against.
I don’t think that Gender Stereotypes should be abolished. They need to be acknowledged as important to many cultures. My hope is that they will evolve or die a quiet death as more and more women decide to create their own ideas of who they should be and what they can do.
p align=”LEFT”>I expect that poverty will decline when more women feel capable of having dreams and careers and running their lives in ways that make them proud.