Thank You Thursdays: When I Grow Up…

thank-you.jpgThank you to the brave women of the feminist movement for making it normal for girls and women to entertain a range of career options. When my grandmother was young, she knew she could either be a teacher or a nurse. She chose teacher. When my mom was young, she thought she might be a secretary because she’d heard that if you did your work very quickly, you could read the rest of the day. She never thought she could go into publishing or be a writer or other fancy man jobs that involved books. Despite being brilliant and dynamic, she only saw a very narrow range of options open to her job-wise. (She later would become a superstar social worker/community activist).
By the time I was five-years-old I told my parents that I would like to be a part-time waitress and part-time doctor. Then it was ballerina. Then it was vet. Then it was lawyer (until my dad took me to work and made me watch him talk on the phone all frickin’ day…it ain’t no Law and Order people). Then it was, finally and forever, writer.

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10 Comments

  1. BabyPop
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Yes, thank you! My mom would probably not be pleased with considering herself a feminist role model, but she was, to me!
    I wanted to be a ballerina, a model, a nurse, a lawyer, and, like you, lastly, a writer! (Still would like to be a lawyer, though finances prevent me.)
    I will never get tired of telling the story of going to meet “Barbie” at Wal-Mart when I was 5. She asked all the little girls what they wanted to be and the answers were “secretary,” “nurse,” “ballerina,” “princess.” When it was my turn, I proudly proclaimed “COMPUTER PROGRAMMER!” because that is what my Mom was. Thanks, mom!

  2. Posted February 28, 2008 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    My family is full of working women and I think they have provided me with a lot of support in my chosen career path(s). When I was younger and had dreams of being a scientist, my Mom got me a fisher-price microscope and telescope (I remember my huge disappointment when I realized the microscope was little more than a weak magnifying glass, which I discovered when I brought home some ocean water and sadly saw no plankton swimming around under the slide).
    I went to college as a chemisty major, quickly realized that was a horrible mistake, and redirected myself towards biology. I know my family doesn’t fully understand what I do, whenever they see a marine mammal biologist at a whale stranding they think it’s me even though I don’t work with marine mammals. But they’ve always been supportive, and I know without a long line of women in the biological sciences field, I may have had very different prospects. When I go to biological meetings now, both national conferences and student organizations, I am thrilled with the number of women in this field. There is still very few women holding tenured positions in academia though, so I’m hoping for a turnaround here…
    So, thanks to my mom, my aunts, and my grandmother for being such great role models, and thanks to the countless women I’ve never met that made it possible for me to be here.
    thank you Thursdays are truly inspirational…thank you Feministing!

  3. Posted February 28, 2008 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Agreed! Even though my mom has never been supportive of her daughters’ career aspirations (she tried to talk my sister into being a nurse instead of a physician until the day she entered medical school), I have wonderful aunts and sisters who have always said women can be whatever they want. Whether or not all of them realize they’re feminists, I think they are. Thanks, aunts and sisters!

  4. elizabear
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Can I say a big Thank You to Feministing on this Thursday? You remind me everyday of what I want to be doing, which is working in an organization that supports women’s issues. Vague, I know, but I get so many new ideas from reading posts and comments on here. I love it.
    Also, my career path went as follows:
    - ‘famous’ author (awww…I had to be ‘famous’ — this potential career lasted for years)
    - PR person for NASA (I went through an astronomy stage)
    - High school guidance counselor
    - Student affairs professional at a college (actually started a Masters for that)
    - *IDEAL* — I want to work at Planned Parenthood now. And I like that goal.

  5. biancamarisa
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    No, being a lawyer is definitely NOT law and order. But I am so thankful to be doing it!
    It is fun reading what everyone wanted to be and what they wound up doing. I went from vet to actress to doctor to lawyer.

  6. EG
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Yes. Getting the right to work outside the home in a wide variety of positions is so often dismissed as evidence of feminism’s class bias, but the stultifying, soul-destroying effects of women not having such a wide range of options were immense.
    My mother weeps when she listens to me and my friends talk about our careers, she’s so moved. She quite literally tears up with happiness. When she was young, she says, there was no question of women caring about their careers–young women had few options, God help you if you set your sights on one of the many that were not deemed acceptable, and the girls she knew tried to hide their intelligence and aspirations. She’s said that “ambitious” was a dirty word when applied to women.
    Because of this state of affairs, my mother wasn’t able to find a career she loved and cared about until she was in her forties. She was a wonderful SAHM, and part of what was wonderful about her is that despite–or because of–her experiences of sexism, she always, always emphasized to me that I could become anything I wanted to.
    Thanks, feminism.

  7. Vodalus
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    This is a copy/paste from my blog, but I think you guys might find it (although not the rest of the blog) entertaining:
    From about age 6 to age 9, what I really wanted with all my heart was to be the captain of a pirate ship when I grew up. More precisely, I wanted to wear a big floppy hat, a scimitar in a big red sash and go around in big floppy boots. That’s right: in 1991, I wanted to be Captain Jack Sparrow but with boobs instead of a beard.
    I also recall specifically *not telling people* that this was what I wanted to be when I grew up because I knew that wanting to be a pirate would be frowned upon. I wouldn’t even admit to wanting to be a sea captain, because that didn’t seem adequately feminine. So mostly I told adults that I didn’t know what I wanted to be and did a lot of pretend fencing.
    I have a very specific memory of being thrilled to discover a National Geographic article about modern piracy. I ran upstairs and locked myself in my room to read it. My immediate responses were as follows:
    * Wow, I can’t believe that there are still pirates! I thought piracy on the high seas was a thing of the past. I’m so lucky!
    * Oh, they just use speedboats and guns now. That’s a bummer.
    * Man, these guys are so cute.
    * I am so going to run off and be a pirate one day.
    Thus far, I only have the boots and an exaggerated swagger. I am also only moderately less strange, but my attitude towards criminality has toughened up quite a bit. For instance, I no longer support murder, theft and enslavement.
    Thanks feminism for letting me want to be a pirate. And thanks for letting my potential daughters to one day want the same thing–but not have to feel like they need to hide it because they have the wrong genitals.

  8. Monika
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    This is a great reminder to call my Mum and tell her I consider myself a feminist now. I was in the “I’m not a feminist but … ” category for a long time I’m embarrassed to acknowledge and I know that my refusal to call myself a feminist disappointed Mum in the past.
    Mum was always an awesome feminist and she (and Dad) told me I could be anything I wanted to be. Although they did steer me away from teaching because they were both teachers! I’m an accountant now and I love it. Wanted to be a lawyer for the longest time until I actually studied some business law at uni!
    Mum was sent to seamstress school by her parents which she tried for a couple of weeks before coming home and telling her parents she was going to university. She has several degrees now and was the first women in her family to get one (I was the second which made her proud). Then when she got married the bank tried to close her account because of course she wouldn’t continue working after that and wouldn’t need her own bank account. Boy I would have liked to be a fly on the wall at the bank that day!
    It’s because of people like Mum I don’t have to ever worry about anything like that. Thanks Mum. And thanks Feministing.

  9. Carly
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    This post is great and it gives me the opportunity to say thanks to my dad for buying me an electric guitar, amp and effects pedals when I was a teenager. It started me on my path to where I am now, which is in audio engineering school. He had a stroke a little while ago and so he can’t really tell me his thoughts, but I’m pretty sure he’s proud since last time I was home he cranked up the speakers he had rigged up and directed me to stand in the “sweet spot” in the room, knowing I’d appreciate it.
    Plus, a big thumbs up to my mom for getting sent home from school for daring to wear – *gasp* – pants.

  10. CourtneyEMartin
    Posted February 29, 2008 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m so ridiculously moved by all of these comments. Thanks all you scientist/pirate/feminist/savetheworlders!

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