by Elizabeth T. Andrews
American Reporter Correspondent
November 15, 2006
DON'T THINK PINK
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- I know women who would rather die than grow up.
"Grow up" as in questioning everything you've been taught, deciding what you agree with, and defining the rules by which you will live.
"Grow up" as in wanting a man but not needing one, because you've proven you can take care of yourself.
"Grow up" as in taking personal spiritual responsibility all the way to the top, and concluding God did not author inequality, suppression of women or the right of men to define anyone's spirituality other than their own.
I am not unsympathetic with any form of human suffering. Been there. Done a lot. Over the years, however, I have grown increasingly impatient with women who refuse to take a good hard look at why they think, feel and act as they do.
There is no door that lets in more fresh air on the suffering, sobbing, soul of a woman than the opening of the door marked: Unexamined thinking or refusal to accept full responsibility for one's own life.
In the 20-plus years I have been working with women I have found most of their mental anguish and self-imposed suffering stems from these two characteristics.
It begins with the pink sheets, the pink baby gowns and the pink booties.
Mama sets it in motion: "Daddy's gonna think you're so cute, Mary honey, with this new pink bow in your hair that matches your new pink ruffled dress." And then mama turns to little Johnny who can barely tie his own shoes and says, "Now, Johnny, you be mama's big boy and take good care of your little sister."
Mary records: Johnny's a boy. He's big and strong and will take care of little helpless me.
Thus begins the insulting programming that has to be recognized later if Mary is ever to believe she can take care of herself. It also does a head-game on little Johnny that burdens him for life, but that's another story. Right now we're trying to find out why grown-up "girls" think somebody is supposed to take care of them.
As Mary tries to grow up, daddy calls her his little princess, smiles approvingly if Mary continues to wear a lot of pink, and praises her for helping mama in the kitchen while he takes Johnny fishing.
At home Mary records: Daddy loves me if I act like mama. And at school Mary records: The teacher thinks Johnny is smarter than me, therefore, I must be dumb. Statistics prove elementary and kindergarten teachers call on little boys more frequently while little girls upraised hands flap in the unbalanced breeze.
At about age 13, Mary discovers on her own that if she pretends all males are bigger and stronger and smarter than she is, she can chalk up a lot of Brownie points and make life sweet and easy for herself.
Around age 18, Mary realizes somebody has to work if she is going to eat and, my goodness, why should she work if she can marry Tom and let him put in the grueling 40-plus hours?
Three squealing kids, a thickening waistline and about seven years later, Mary looks at the littered living room, last night's dishes in the kitchen sink, Tom's dirty shorts on the bedroom floor, and whispers softly to the empty air: "Is this all there is?"
Getting no answer and afraid to open the door marked "unexamined thinking," Mary rushes out to Harry, a male doctor who has been ego-programmed to think he should take care of all Mary's twinges and twitches. He tells her she is just having a few nervous female problems and an anti-depressant will fix her right up.
One day Mary squints through her blurred vision and discovers the kids have grown up and the house is empty. The afternoon hangs like a frozen grey sheet on a December clothesline. She'll need just a sip or two of the vodka to get through the long, dull afternoon.
A couple of years later, Tom packs his suitcase and moves across town with a woman half Mary's age. At this point, Mary will wash down a full bottle of pills with some vodka or she'll end up sitting in a counselors office wondering how it all went so very, very wrong.
Unexamined thinking. Refusing to question the-way-it-has-always-been. Allowing mama, daddy, the school, one's church, and society to decide how one should live. Preferring to be treated like a grown-up child rather than a woman with native intelligence, talents and the ability to find self-identity, self-esteem, self-responsibility and self-reliance.
Any able-bodied woman who can work and doesn't is living out the painful truth of "The hand that controls the bread and butter controls us."
Most of the intelligent men I know prefer the company of working, self-reliant women who think Mary's mind-set is an old joke.
Among these good men, however, are a few who remain locked into going home from work every day to a child-like, whining, aging little Mary. These are the men who will drop dead of a heart attack at age 48 from frustration, confusion, and the care and feeding of someone who should be taking care of herself.
Granted, there are many men who still prefer the Marys of the world.
Of such men I would ask, "Don't you get tired of playing Big Daddy all the time and of having to be responsible for the daily potatoes, the physical security and the well-being of another adult?"
And finally I would ask this hard-working, tired, grown-up little Johnny who has never questioned why he always had to take care of his little sister or his wife: "Johnny, why don't you just unlock the door to your wife's pink, antiquated cage and ask her to set you both free?"
Elizabeth T. Andrews is a newspaper columnist in Cartersville, Ga., where she writes poetry. Contact her at rainytreefoundation@yahoo. com or P.O. Box 816, Cartersville, GA 30120.