This afternoon while doing the washing up (AmE: washing the dishes), I had on WMHK, a Christian radio station in Columbia, SC. On their morning program they have a lot of ‘share stories time’. Most of it is bland, run-of-the-mill stories that go something like this:
Presenter (AmE: Host): What’s your story this morning?
Mom (it is usually a mom): I had the most wonderful conversation with my 5 year old in the car.
Presenter: Go on (they love stories about children).
Mom: We were talking and my little Sarah said, ‘You know mommy, God is really good, isn’t he?’ (said in mom’s imitation of child).
Presenter and mom together (in a syrupy , excited voice): Oh, out of the mouths of babes!
I usually roll my eyes and wait for it to be over. Other times, they can express the stories of such sexism that I get angry. I find myself doing this more as my daughter grows up. This morning, they were talking about words that you heard that made an impact on you. Well, the presenter told a story of someone going down the dating path. The guy she is with is ‘really intentional’. That means for this friend that she doesn’t have to do anything but say ‘yes or no’. He asks, ‘Do you want to go out Friday night?’ If she does, everything is planned. He has the place, the activities the time all set. The friend says that ‘he has given her the ‘freedom to be the girl’.
There is a sense in which if this is what ‘the girl’ wants, then fine. If she wants to be lead (or pampered) in such a way and she has found a guy that will do it, there’s really no point in me trying to dissuade her, even if I knew her. But, it does raise a question of where she got this definition of ‘the girl’ from. Does being ‘the girl’ really mean having everything taken care of by ‘the boy’? What kind of expectations does this make for ‘the boy’? Why does ‘the boy’ and ‘the girl’ feel that these expectations need to be met? Why did she need to get this from freedom from ‘the boy’?
What really angered me was the presenter’s reaction. After she related the story, she pronounced, ‘Wow, what an incredible statement! Kudos that guy about being intentional about the girl he wants to win!’ First, this gives the impression that this is the way things should be. If she praises the guy for being intentional (i.e., planning everything so she can be ‘the girl’), it enforces all those listening that girls should expect ‘to be taken care of’ and have all their decisions made for them, and that it the job of ‘the boy’ to do these things – i.e., she can’t think for herself. This may sound like ‘a great gig if you can get it’ for the girl, but what it really says is that the girl needs someone to do this for her. It also seems to imply that the girl doesn’t do any of this for the guy. April and I do our best to do this for each other, without one or the other having the main lead role (we each take a lead in different areas, but it’s not a decision determined beforehand based on gender).
Second, and this really angered April, was that the girl was a prize to be won. I guess the girl sits in her tower and waits for the guy who will come along and do everything perfect and he wins her as if she is a prize at the state fair.
Come on, Christian radio, give us good examples to give our children that are based on boys and girls, men and women being equal!