Now this one’s going way back.
I was driving through my home town today and you know how you see a place you haven’t truly *noticed* in years and suddenly the memories you’d totally forgotten flood back?
So it was today with memories of Jake. He was one of my first “boyfriends” back in the days when that meant meeting him somewhere halfway between my all-girls group and his all-boys group in that middle ground for established couples outside the school doors for the 15 minutes of before-school “bus wait.”
Ah, junior high.
What is remarkable about Jake in my memory– above any of my other twelve-year-old crushes– is not Jake himself (Sorry, Jake.)– though I do remember his spiky dark hair, his freckles, and his braces– but his *mother*
Because Jake one day in that awkward couples’ middle zone, while blushing and flirting and hand-holding, gave me his (gasp!) phone number and one day (gasp!) I called him– because we were going biking or swimming or something. Now, I don’t remember if we ever actually went out outside of school, but I *do*remember what his mother said when I asked “Hello, is Jake there?”
“Girls do not call boys.”
She may have hung up on me. She may have handed the phone to Jake. I don’t remember. I do know that Jake asked me never to call his house again after that.
Keeping in mind that I did not grow up in the 1950’s, what kind of world is it where a girl can’t call a boy? What does that teach girls about the requesting what they want or the value of being assertive?
I’ll tell you: it teaches them *not* to be assertive, to be docile and to wait for a man to initiate.
Pardon me, I think I just vomited a bit.
As an adult, I now recognize that perhaps Jake’s mom simply thought her son was too young for girls to be calling. We were only 12 or 13, after all. But I think she should have taken that up with Jake rather than crushing the enthusiasm of a budding young woman just learning to navigate the world. Instead she blamed the female, as society so often does.
Can girls ask out boys? Why not?
Regardless of Jake’s mom’s opinion, a woman should be able to express her needs and desires as much as any man. And what I mean by “should” is that it ought to be socially acceptable– a given.
As for young women, they must learn to stand up for themselves, to express what they want rather than sitting around waiting for a man to start something. A young person, regardless of gender, can never achieve leadership skills without the training and permission to freely express opinions.
All children should be encouraged to respectfully request that which they need and desire, in order to become adults who can effectively function in community with others. Traditionally, men have been taught these skills, and encouraged to practice them, while girls were left behind.
It is 2014, and it’s time to turn that around.
But what if the man doesn’t like a woman taking initiative, or thinks a woman too forward? If a woman’s request deflates his ego, he’s not worth it to begin with. His ego would be the center of the entire relationship, and what self-respecting modern woman wants that kind of antiquated high-maintenence man anyway?