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Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category

Smarter than me

When I was in the 6th grade, my teacher made us write in a journal every week (remember Ms. Yamamoto, Jillian??). One of the topics was something like “What do you think life will be like in 20 years?” I kind of wish I kept the notebook, because I’d be curious to see what I wrote. I do remember writing about having a family and specifying that my husband had to be smarter than me. A few days after handing in the notebook, my teacher pulled me aside and asked me why I felt my husband needed to be smarter. What a silly question!, I thought. How could I ever marry someone who was dumber than me? Men were supposed to be smarter and more successful than their wives. That’s just how it works.

10 years later, I have to say my views haven’t changed that much, except that I use “success” instead of “smartness” as a ruler now. Call me old-fashioned, backwards, or anti-feminist, but I want to feel “taken care of” in a relationship: mentally and financially. In other words, my husband should make enough money to be the sole breadwinner.  To be clear here, a fulfilling career is still very important to me. After all, I’m not spending 5+ years doing my Ph.D for shits and giggles. I have no desire to sit home all day as a housewife, making my family the only redeeming part of my existence. However, I do want — no, need — the option to quit my job any point to stay home and take of the kids. Hence I need a husband who is “more successful,” but still respects me.

Or maybe I just really like the idea of being filthy rich without having to lift a finger. I could just drive my kids to soccer practice with this car:

Yes, please. I’d give up science to be a trophy wife for that.

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Minority report

It’s hard being a woman. We want babies while maintaining a successful career. Yet we still end up doing most of the housework. And we have to suffer from monthly emotional roller coasters. Whine.

(I was going to write about this on my NSF personal statement until I realized that, well, it’s a pretty stupid thing to write about. Which is why I’m writing about it on my blog! YAY.)

So far, one of the biggest disadvantage about being a woman I’ve faced is the advantages for being a woman. You know, Affirmative Action. After I got into MIT, the number of times I heard “well, you only got in for being a girl” is innumerable. It really hurt after a while because I felt like all of my hard work was dismissed by my gender. The inferior one that “requires a little help or push” to succeed. By the time I graduated high school, I figured all of this demeaning talk would be over. Wrong. Recently, when I mention that I’m applying for NSF graduate fellowship, people keep telling me “oh you’ll get it easily — you’re a girl!” Maybe they’re meant to be words of comfort, to destress me, but I don’t take it that way. I find it insulting.

There are two scenarios in these situations. I either achieve what I was working towards (undergrad or grad school acceptances, or NSF funding) and feel like I didn’t really deserve it as much as the males on the same level, or I fail to achieve my goals, and it hits my self-esteem even harder. If it was so much easier for me to get the awards, how bad must I be to not get it? See, it’s like catching the number 22. Perhaps 22 catches. OF FAIL IN ALL SITUATIONS.

The summer after high school ended I found a shirt that resonated with my frustrations (most of you probably are familiar with that shirt.) “Wish I Were a Boy,” it announces in large, bold letters. I truly did wish I were a boy for a while and to take out gender of all my equations. But now, as a full-fledged feminist (who enjoys knitting, cooking, and cleaning…), I won’t stand up for this shit. It’s just not fair for me to feel BAD about being rewarded for my hard work. Let’s just cancel out that variable and pretend it never existed.

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