As a society we are encouraged to say yes and if we say no people try to make us feel guilty about it. But the thing is, no is a complete answer, and it should not be accompanied by guilt, nor does it need an explanation.
Saying no does not make you a bad person. Saying no is not a bad thing. And yet, it comes with a huge guilt burden, especially for the female population. From the time we are little girls we are primed to think that we are responsible for other people’s behaviour and happiness. The image that a woman is supposed to ensure that everyone is fed, cleaned and clothed is insidious. The role of a mother is projected onto all females, and heaven forbid, a young lass bucks the trend. Girls are supposed to be feminine and want to be pretty. They should not have fun climbing trees or be geeky. Nor should they ever confess that they don’t want to have children.
This week I went shopping for a little boy and a little girl who I knew absolutely nothing about apart from their ages. It was an enlightening experience because I found myself noticing biases that I did not know that I had. For instance, why did I dismiss the puzzle with a picture of a rocket as being inappropriate for the young girl. Perhaps if this young lady ever goes to space she will have a similar sentiment to Sally Ride:
The thing that I’ll remember most about the flight is that it was fun. In fact, I’m sure it was the most fun I’ll ever have in my life.
The thing is if you had asked me about this bias I would have strongly disputed its existence. Yet, it clearly influenced my behaviour. Logically, I should not have such a bias, I am a highly educated female with a professional degree.
I also found it fascinating about the fact that I was asked about my children, and when I replied that I don’t have any I was subjected to an interrogation regarding why I don’t, and when I’m planning on changing this. But the important thing is that really is nobody’s business except mine and Riaan’s. I don’t owe anyone an explanation, and yet I needed to fight the urge to justify my decision to other people. It’s my life and I have every right to live it my way.
For this post:
the author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.