INDEPENDENT. Now, let’s look at that for a sec. There’s a whole movement going on lately where women my age are harnessing a whole new level of independence. Don’t get me wrong, the ladies before us killed it and blazed the trail for girls like me just trying to prove ourselves, but now we’re tackling something much deeper– social stigmas (e.g. “like a girl…” or “for a girl…”).
*que Peggy Olson on Mad Men not giving a single F as she moves into her new office super hungover with a ciggy hangin’ out*
I’ve always been super independent, even as a kid. I was pretty mischievous and independent. It was practically protocol for me to wander off in the grocery store or Blockbuster or -name a place-. But, I remember I didn’t do it for attention, except when I’d run away from home, I’d write a note and make them read it lol. Anyways, I remember wandering off because I’d just see something I wanted to check out so I’d go do it by myself because I felt like I didn’t need anyone to come with me or even know I was going. Call it ADD, call it curiosity, call it independence, call it whatever you want. I did stuff like that just because I wanted to.
My parents never told me I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. They let me play street hockey with my brother and his friends, play on the trampoline with them and participate in general debauchery with them. I wasn’t a tomboy, I wasn’t a girly-girl though either. I just did what I wanted and dressed how I wanted. Seriously, my mom tried to make me wear bows in family pictures as like a 2 year old and I literally ripped them out… like with a chunk of hair… that’s dedication. Anyways, I’m just trying to convey the message that my parents never made me label myself as one or the other, they let me run free because they trusted me and they let my adventurous nature take hold.
It wasn’t until I guess middle school when I started to notice that people inherently associated differences between boys and girls. The first thing that comes to mind is that standardized physical fitness test they made us do in school, the Presidential benchmark or something? Can’t remember. Anyways, I remember a friend of mine (a girl) was super athletic, a soccer superstar. During the shuttle runs, she and one boy made it to the very end. She stopped and then he did one more just to beat her. They beat all of us by a staggering amount, they were both super athletic. But, I remember one of the teachers saying “wow, she did so good for a girl!” Like whaaaa?
Like, what does that even mean? “For a girl…” is such an idiotic statement. Only two kids made it that far! Why should her accomplishment somehow mean more just because she’s a girl? That’s when I realized that, as girls, we are expected to somehow be less capable at a lot of things. Once I noticed it here, I noticed it everywhere and virtually through every era of my life. In high school, in college, at work. Don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of people don’t mean to separate girls from boys like that all the time, but its hard to ignore.
Because of how I was brought up, not ever separating myself from boys in what they can do and what I can do, its weird to see other girls count themselves out sometimes.
I think I’ve proved myself in college, I’m in the top 10% of my class and absolutely love what I study. However, the advertising industry is pretty male dominated…yay. Luckily, where I worked this summer was pretty good at having a 50/50 work environment. Actually, 7/8 interns I worked with were girls GRL PWR. But, I know many other agencies are a little bit more old school–a boy’s club if you will. I’m not trying to cause a scene or come in like a feminist wrecking ball; I just know what I can do and I don’t see how I’m any different from a guy who can do the same thing. Honesty, I’m probably more charming and tactful than him. So I’m a win-win, really.
I’m sure you’re wondering how all of this ties together. Well, my dedicated reader, my point is this: if you are female, stop counting yourself out just because you have 2 X chromosomes instead of XY. I’m so grateful that my parents just let me be as a kid. I’m thankful that it was never a question if I could do what the boys were doing. I’m thankful that they let me keep my rebellious spirit (even tho I sucked when I was 16-17, I’m sorry mom & dad for being such a diva once I got my license). I’m thankful that I grew up in Texas where everyone embraces that same kind of independent spirit. I’m thankful I got to study abroad and push myself even more because, yeah, I have become even more independent and self-reliant. I didn’t even know that was possible. So, ladies, this isn’t a feminist rant, its just an attempted wakeup call! You can literally do anything a guy does. The only thing standing in your way is you. The other important part of this is to celebrate your accomplishments as a human, as a person, as a student, as a professional– the fact that your a woman shouldn’t matter, it shouldn’t make your accomplishment even greater somehow. Basically, stop thinking so much, stop thinking about stereotypes, stop thinking about other people’s BS so much and just do what you wanna do. Go wander off in Blockbuster, go for that job at that law firm. just. do. you. Be Peggy.
A friend of mine, Adrian, asked me to elaborate on a few things in my post. He’s taking this female sexuality-based class and is actually really interesting in the subject on an impressive level. Sup, Adrian. Anyways, something he wanted me to address is how exactly the ad industry is a male dominated industry, when in fact the last place I worked had a very evenly distributed work environment. Historically, the ad industry is extremely male dominated–Mad Men is the perfect example of this. Even though its a TV show, it is extremely accurate for the ad industry in the 60’s. Smoking, drinking, scheming, general tomfoolery was part of the job. The office was seen as a cut-throat environment, no place for a woman. To get ahead in the industry, you had to have the balls to step on a few toes here and there. The 60’s was arguably the “golden” era of advertising because its the first time we see the purpose of advertising shift from purely informational to having persuasive, even manipulative, purpose. This is my conjecture on the matter: advertising was/is still a male dominated industry because of gender roles. Men and women are to blame here, no one party is more at fault. Traditionally, men are the leaders, they tell everyone else (including women) what they think they want. It is up to the men to show us what we want. That is essentially what advertising is. Women are to blame for this problem as well; historically, women allow their abilities to be defined for them, not ever testing the water or pushing their own boundaries to discover what they are capable of. Sitting back and being told what they can or cannot do is just as harmful to the progression of women as it is to define their abilities for them. Now, with the complexity of advertising ever-growing and changing and consumers are now part of the brand’s advertising efforts through social media and things of that nature, marketers can’t be as blatant with their intentions. Advertising has to be sneaky in a way. It has to be done in a way where the consumer feels that they had a say, they need to identify with it. Its like Inception, they have to think it was their idea– we just plant the seed. Another conjecture of mine: women are better at this than men WITH EXCEPTIONS OF COURSE. I think most women are born with the ability to plant idea seeds… how else do we get you to go to the mall with us? Subtlety is key. Call it ninja advertising, if you will. We’re in, we’re out, you didn’t know it, but all you know now is that you want a Pepsi really, really badly. BOOM. Anyways, the point I’m trying to make is that advertising was and sometimes is very male dominated because of the nature of the business, it makes you feel powerful and in control–that’s the dark side of it. But, now that consumer trends are changing, women are needed more and more. The ad world is fast-paced and brutal at times, its eat or be eaten. The companies that get on board early and have well-rounded input from men and women will survive, those that cling to the past will be weeded out.