This week, Fangirls, Feminerd is turning to observe something more from my own life. However, I feel that it’s something that can most likely translate to the lives of many women in our world. Growing up, my incredible mother would teach me little life skills that she would file under something referred to as “Little Lady School”. This so called school’s curriculum consisted of skills that she was raised to believe made a proper lady and that she wanted to pass on to her own daughter. Though these were all very useful tools that I appreciate learning, it always bothered me that they were labeled as things that women must learn.
This is no way an attack on my mother & her parenting. My parents did an amazing job raising me, and I like to think I’ve turn out pretty well. My mother was in no way trying to instill in me that women are inferior and are the only ones that need these valuable life skills. She was just teaching me things that her mother & grandmother had taught her growing up. They’re very useful skills. Things like how to properly iron clothes and set tables. However, it was the label of “Little Lady School” that always bothered me.
Even as a small child, I could tell that something was wrong with this. I appreciated my mother teaching me these things, they’re skills I use almost daily. But when she told me these things, she always ended the statement by kindly saying something like “just a lesson of little lady school”. Now, I’ve always a more androgynous sort of person. As a kid, I preferred to wear my brothers’ hand me downs, begged my mother for short hair cuts, and I hated being associated with anything that was so called “girly”. I felt almost uncomfortable when people pointed out my gender to me, and I didn’t understand why it was a problem that I just felt better associating myself more with male styles & clothing. I even remember a specific event on the playground in 2nd grade, where I asked my friends to refer to me with gender neutral pronouns. Though I’ve since grown to be much more confident in being a woman & my gender identity, gender binaries have clearly bothered me since my early years. So when my mother told me I was a student of this Lady School, I felt uncomfortable.
Why did this have to be Little Lady School? These lessons clearly can apply to anyone of any gender or identity. I concluded that this “school” was merely more of a product of the times. My mother was taught these things in a different generation, through a very traditional mother & grandmother. I can’t blame the social constructs that they lived in, I can’t change or brutally question the past.
I so deeply appreciate the things my mother has taught me. I use my proper ironing skills weekly. I can say that I’ve actually felt proud sharing my knowledge of table setting, people are oddly impressed by it. I don’t know how many times I’ve been happy that I learned how to sew buttons or patch holes on shirt & pants. But, I’ve also learned that the idea of these skills making me more of a better or more proper lady is bullshit. They just make a better person. These skills are universal. They don’t make you a proper woman, they just make it easier to do a lot of shit. Gender & home skills are totally separate, and I’m happy to see that idea starting to fall away a bit. In my family, the school will live on, I will pass on these skills to my children, regardless of gender. I’ll just have to give it a different name. The School of You Need To Know This? The School of You’ll Thank Me Later?
I’ll keep brain storming.
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