“Great Work! For a GIRL.”
These are words that I heard from my first grade daughter’s mouth this morning about her OWN work.
There was a major learning event in our home this morning, and it is fitting that it unexpectedly happened to happen on International Women’s Day 2014.
As our daughter worked on a very intricate Rainbow Loom rubber band bracelet, I heard her utter the words with pride and seriousness,
“Great Work! FOR A GIRL!!!”
It is not an exaggeration to say that I felt like my heart stopped a little.
What did she just say with such happiness? How? HOW????!!!
It was clearly time for a serious talk.
I asked where she’d heard that phrase and she said she heard it on Scooby Doo.
I explained to our daughter that it was a line meant to be an insult because whoever said it didn’t think that a girl could do great work in whatever situation they were working in.
Both our 5 year old son and our 6 and a half year old girl found this very confusing.
How was that an insult? That was not an insult. They said, “Great Work!” and it WAS “Great Work… For A Girl!”
Oh My. Oh My. Oh My, My, My, My, My…….
There is work to be done in this home…
in this home where we celebrate women….
In this home where we celebrate PEOPLE
who work hard and achieve,
who do good things, and who make a difference.
There is work to be done in this family of open-minded people,
from our ancestors,
to our extended family,
to the friends we laugh with,
to the teachers we honor,
and in the way we live,
where we recognize
and exalt and read about
THE PEOPLE WHO DO GREAT WORK….
The first answers to the questions I asked were a bit alarming from our little Pre-Schooler and First Grader.
”Do you think girls can do the same great work boys can do?
‘Do you think girls can be just as strong or fast as boys?”
“Do you think girls are as smart as boys?”
“Do you think boys can be just as good as girls at art, or cooking, or fashion as girls?”
(*I used those fashion & cooking examples because they are traditionally ascribed to stereotypically “girly” pastimes and commercial toys- like the color pink. And, I know these are the activities my children associate with activities that GIRLS should be better at than BOYS).
And, then, I recalled a Super Hero episode I overheard recently where Batman and Superman ordered burgers and milkshakes and then cut Wonder Woman off as she ordered a salad and whole wheat toast.
“She’ll have the same! Make it 3!” Superman yelled.
“You’ll work it off later, Princess,” Batman responded.
Wonder Woman sat quietly and waited for her burger.
The Messages. Those Messages.
The Subliminal and The Overt.
They had already chipped away at the developing worldview of my perspective-vulnerable kids, and I had not seen it.
I remember watching an Independent Lens Documentary about the rise and fall of Wonder Woman.
She went from empowering icon to a female super hero who needed to be rescued herself as her own powers had devolved to be…Just….LESS THAN.
I watched that documentary because it happened to follow the other Independent Lens Documentaries I’d DVR’ed.
The Wonder Woman episode followed one about a man obsessed with Chinese Mail-Order Brides and another on the dwindling number of nomadic Mongolian tribes still bartering with precious strands of silk that had to be vigilantly protected from mold or rot to avoid complete destitution.
It was just a documentary between documentaries.
It was just a documentary because we really had moved forward and past that kind of thinking.
TODAY, WONDER WOMAN LOOKED AT THE NEW LASSO OF HOPE
THAT SHE MADE HERSELF
ON THE UBIQUITOUSLY AVAILABLE AND AWARD-WINNING
“TOY OF THE YEAR!”,
AND SHE EXCLAIMED,
“GREAT WORK! FOR A GIRL!”
And, it happened, of all days, TODAY, on International Women’s Day.
By the end of our talk, I feel like both of our kids understand why saying ”Great Work! For A Girl…” is NOT a compliment.
“Great Work” Is Very Simply “GREAT WORK”.
EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US IS CAPABLE OF IT.
AND “BAD WORK” is equally, and simply, “BAD WORK”….
“BAD WORK” = Bad script writing where Wonder Woman isn’t capable of ordering her own lunch.
I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW, PARENTS….
IF YOU HEARD THOSE CRAZILY ANTIQUATED,
AND SO INNOCENTLY UTTERED WORDS
COME FROM YOUR OWN AMAZING, CAPABLE, SMART, DEVELOPING CHILD’S MOUTH…..
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE SAID?
AFTER OUR TALK, I HAD BOTH OF MY KIDS YELL SOMETHING.
OUR BOY YELLED IT.
OUR GIRL YELLED IT.
I YELLED IT.
I HOPE YOU AND YOUR KIDS YELL IT, TOO.
MAY EVERY SINGLE PERSON
ALL OVER THE WORLD
ORDER HIS OR HER OWN LUNCH,
AND BE GIVEN CREDIT FOR GREAT WORK
BECAUSE IT IS JUST, SIMPLY, GREAT.