Humans are born generally into one of two sex castes; impregnating and impregnatable. Though some of us turn out to be sterile and cannot have biological children, we are all socialized as boys or girls as children, even when our parents resist this. It’s ubiquitous.
And it’s tragic. It ruins so many of us in so many ways. Gender socialization trashes our potential so frequently, as it pressures us to limit our options.
Humans are so complex. We understand so little about ourselves and how we come to be what we wind up as.
Are our talents genetic or developmentally related? How can we know, in a culture that enforces gender roles?
I was a math whiz when I was a child. For awhile, I was allowed into advanced placement. But due to family problems, for which I in no way blame my mother, I was moved around and wound up eventually in math classes that did not challenge me. I would do the homework in a few minutes and read novels during the rest of the class. I was about fourteen at the time.
For years I believed it was nice of that math teacher, Mr. Fernandez I think his name was, to ignore me thusly.
Now I see it differently. I could have been one of those people who use math to evaluate climate change, or patterns of biological extinction. I could have been one of those people who used math to fight against those who insist it’s okay to just kill the planet. I could have been one kick-ass mathematician if properly challenged.
But nobody pointed that out to me. I was just a girl.
When I finally crashed out of high school, my beginning calculus teacher, Mrs. Cranston, was furious at me. I give her credit for that.
It’s too bad she wasn’t able to communicate with me about how math might be useful.
She was involved in nuclear research. I was taught by family members that this was not a good thing.
But they didn’t tell me about how mathematicians can work to fight against lies about climate and biological extinction.
They didn’t tell me about geological extinction events.
At school, they made me learn to sew. They tried to teach me how to cook.
My family and extended family did a much better job of teaching me how to cook.
And it’s nice to know how to sew.
It’s even better to know how to do carpentry and weld steel and repair cars.
They did teach me how to type in high school. That was before computers. That was before anybody realized this was anything other than a slave skill.
So, I have that.
But I don’t have what I could have had. I don’t have the math I could have had, the friends I could have had, the whole social environment of fighting back against the evils of this culture, using math as a tool.
And that bothers me. I’m too old and messed up to fix it. It was to a certain extent a matter of luck. I don’t focus on blame.
Losing the people is the worst, though. Losing the potential and knowing it. Knowing that I made bad calls and opted out of whom I should have been, and what I should have done and become, without realizing that I was working as an accomplice to limit my life.
It haunts me constantly.