Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Calling attention to our differences...

I’ve always held that it does no good to measure people by their ethnic, racial, gender, or religious lines. Understanding how those things may have an effect on a person can be helpful. Measuring the person by it, that’s just plain ignorant.

The more attention you call to your differences, the more you isolate yourself, and bring about your own victimization. I’ve had a reader here that has e mailed me about “women’s rights”. I’m not the spokesperson for this, as anyone who knows me can tell you. I’ve long worked from a young age in male dominated fields of work if you were to speak statistically. Why are some women successful in these areas, while others feel “held back”? 9/10 of it is your personality. I’m lucky that I’ve gotten to experience what I have in the past year and a half. But I’ve worked for it, and I’ve never, ever felt like being a female holds me back from what I want to do. I might hold myself back, but that has everything to do with me as a person, not me as a female.

This I mostly attribute to my father and grandfather, who when I was 4 years of age, and wanted to learn how to cross country ski so that I could follow them into the woods, not only taught me, but encouraged me. Then, in years following, as I went with them on long treks I would get the warning first. “You can come, but you have to keep up, and there is to be no complaining.” I hiked my first mountain at age 2 (Mt. Monadnock). I insisted on walking up by myself and promptly fell so dead asleep at the top that my grandfather made a litter to carry me down in, as they couldn’t wake me. I always was a bit stubborn. And I was never ever told, “girls don’t’ do that.” Therefore, I didn’t look at myself as a girl first. I looked at myself as a capable human being. And personal responsibility was a matter of pride in an old New England Yankee family.

I like to share my experiences in Iraq, not because I think I’m some great person for having been there, I think I’m damned lucky, but because I want other Americans to know what I’ve seen there. However, the real credit goes to the people that are in there defending my rights that allow me to have become who I am, and do the things I do. That’s our military, and their immediate families, who often get the short end of the stick when talking about sacrifice. Everyone knows it is harder to risk the life of one you truly deeply love for something than it is to risk your own life. Every parent that would give themselves in a second for their child, every husband or wife that would take a bullet rather than see their beloved in pain knows what I’m talking about.

Anyhow, the point is that I have heard many times “it’s so violent over there, and you are a woman!” Er, thanks, I was unaware of that. You know, actually, being a female probably carries much more advantage in a country like Iraq than being a male does. Not that I ever thought of that until I started this conversation, but looking on it now, I can see where many things were easier for me than they would be for a male, particularly in the culture there.

I’m a woman. But I am Kerry first. And with Kerry lies all of the responsibility for decisions made, the successes and the failure, the setbacks and the disappointments and the things got right. Not one of those things will I ever blame on being female.

Do you think Rosa Parks looked at herself first as a black woman? Or maybe first as a human being that was taking personal responsibility for her rights. She knew it was because of the color of her skin, sure. And I know that there are some things that I’m denied because of my gender. But I don’t wail about it. I just keep moving towards the goal. All kinds of roadblocks get in our way in life. We don’t need to create any extras.


Blogger Matthew said...

Hi Kerry,

Strong post. Sounds like you had a great father and grandfather.

I found a very good post about Rosa Parks and her stand against segregation: "As tender as a rose and as strong as steel".

Ms. Parks was a tough cookie. She taught Americans a dramatic lesson about how to persevere, but she also served as an inspiration to Nelson Mandela and other revolutionaries in Africa.

The world is surprisingly small at times.

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Medicine said...

But I’ve worked for it, and I’ve never, ever felt like being a female holds me back from what I want to do.

3:53 PM  

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