I’m hardly a hardcore feminist. I wear a bra. I shave my legs. I enjoy having a door held for me on occasion (some of those suckers can be heavy).
But I don’t appreciate when the same opportunities available to men are not available to me. I don’t consider myself weaker either figuratively or literally (except when it comes to some of those damn doors).
Which is why I particularly enjoyed Karen Mangiacotti’s essay over at The Huffington Post. But it also got me all kinds of irritated.
She received an email from her 13-year-old’s teacher late last year about needing parent volunteers for some physics project called pumpkin chunkin’ (yeah, I have no idea what that is, either).
Here was the rub: The email called for dads. Specifically, strong dads.
So Karen sat down and replied to everyone on the email:
Dear teachers and parents:
Are you guys seriously only asking for Dads?
Is lifting done with a penis?
Surprisingly (or not?), instead of a flood of support for her calling out the antiquated notion that only dads are strong, she was chastised by administrators and other parents on the email for her potty mouth (it remains unclear if her kid goes to the same school as the Ingalls family sent their kids).
Parents were horrified. Who knew this might happen? Not us. OK, we probably knew — but seriously? Asking exclusively for dads to help is offensive on so many levels to me. I am freakishly strong and could mount a trébuchet with the best of them . . . As someone who was a single mom for a good long time, I take issue with the assumption that every home has a dad to contribute. But most of all, I resent the message we are giving to our daughters that because of their gender, they are unwelcome to participate in physical tasks — that they are not strong enough and that only a man qualifies. I resent the message to all our children that we judge the value of contribution based on sex and not competence. What the hell year is this? I better double-check that. Still 2011.
As Karen points out in her essay, it’s inappropriate to use the word “penis” but it’s appropriate to “send socially regressive requests out that diminish our girl’s sense of worth?”
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a progressive home in a liberal area. And I now live somewhere similarly progressive. Or maybe it’s because it’s not 1952. But really, People at Karen’s Kid’s School? I mean, come on.
Moms can lift. Moms can use the words penis. We just can. Let’s move on. Or better yet, let’s move forward. And fast. Because I assumed we were already there, but it turns out, we have some serious catching up to do.
Are you a Penis Mom, too?