Do You Know This Girl?

When I was young Gloria Steinem took up the banner of feminism. My older sisters, especially my hippy-chick sister, led the way and I stumbled behind.

The older sisters.

The older sisters.

And now I know a girl. And she epitomizes for me how the times have changed since I was her age, shy, hiding in a corner, most often found buried in a book, or in daydreams.

When she was little she was our local wild child. Bare-butt naked, free soul, half fish in the river, half elf in the woods, bare feet in the mud, in the snow, in the grass.

She eventually had to put clothes on and go to school. I worried her spirit would be quenched by the bullies. And girls are so cruel when they bully. Grade school was hard for her. She grew taller than all the other girls. I saw her sitting alone, face buried in a book and was afraid.

Don’t turn into me. Stay free, stay wild.

Her mother made sure that happened.

One winter when the river edges froze and snow fell, she walked past my window dressed in black tights and tee shirt, her bare feet crimson red with cold, her long hair drenched. Coming back from her daily dip in the river.

Snow-melt water.

Snow-melt water.

Still free, still wild. Child on the threshold of girl.

Now, in high school, she’s taller than most students. She wild-forages for licorice root. She hikes. She defines gender by what it means to her, not by what society labels her. She stands firm against social media trolls, those who would tell her to change. She writes poetry that opens your eyes, that makes you pause as you glimpse her soul. This past weekend she walked, barefoot, through a festival, with her poetry.

Still free, still wild. Girl on the threshold of woman.

But one who is not bound by labels.

I can’t wait to see the next blooming of this flower. I worry that sometimes she is too hard on herself (like we all can be). So I want her to read this, to recognize herself, to see that being…just being, without labels of girl, feminist, lesbian, trans, woman, is beautiful. Just as beautiful as taking all those labels, fixing them to your chest, standing proud and saying, ‘this is who I am’.

Our little wild forest child.

She's not in this photo, but she was there when it was taken.

She’s not in this photo, but she was there when it was taken.

Those of you reading this, who recognize her, please do not name her in comments. It should be her choice to be named in such a public way.

Cave Life

Elizabeth Peters once wrote that there was something about a pair of hairy legs next to you in bed, even if they were attached to someone completely useless.

Last week there was a discussion between myself, another woman, and a couple guys in uniform, about why so many women like men in uniforms. The person I was with said it was because the men represented safety, someone who knew what to do in an emergency and could take care of you when zombies attacked. I said it was because I coveted their guns.

Another woman, a while back, told me she thought my husband was ‘hot’ because he looked like the type who would know what to do when ‘the world went to shit’.

All of this has made me think about something other than writing. Such as:

Hey, I know what to do when the world goes to shit. I know what to do in an emergency. I might be terrified, but I know what to do. In most emergencies. I admit to not knowing how to replace a transmission in a car.

The kid.

The kid.

But hey, I got ‘Firefighter of the Year’ once. My pantry is stocked. I can bake bread. I know how to shoot. I may not be able to hit much, but that’s why I have a shotgun.

But if I’m honest, I do feel safer when Art is around. More secure. I do trust him completely to hold it all together. He told me once on a fire I was nervous about, that I was his highest priority. I asked him how he’d tell me apart from everyone else in bunker gear. His response – he’d look for the shortest firefighter.

I am not someone who believes women are helpless little women, and I dislike it when women think that. One of the stupidest things I heard a woman say, during a boat fire at Disneyland, was ‘I don’t know what to do, I’m a woman!’. Seriously. She said that. While the boat’s engine belched smoke and the boat was full of children. While she was the tour guide responsible for those children that she ran right by to get to the far end of the boat. My husband put the fire out.

So if I feel self-sufficient and capable, why is there still that tiny piece of me that wants the scruffy guy to save the day? I mean, I don’t even read romance novels. And obviously there are a lot of women who think the same way, even if we are ashamed to admit it. Look at the post-apocalyptic movies out there. How many have women saving the world? I wish there were a few more.

Is it some sort of inherited genetic programming from cave-man days when reliance on the hunter meant survival? I’ve read that the male who could guarantee survival of offspring was the preferred one.

Is it that women are not as independent as we think we are? I refuse to admit that. Not only because I don’t think it’s true, and for reasons above, but also because there are plenty of guys out there who wouldn’t have a clue how to fish.

I don’t get it. I can stand on my own two feet, but admit to admiring a man in a uniform. Heck, I’ll admit publicly to admiring scruffy men no matter what they’re wearing. Just like I admire a nice looking truck when it goes by.

Seriously though, I wonder what the reason is. My personal opinion is that this has nothing to do with gender or uniforms. I think it has to do with companionship, a sharing of responsibility, a person to take away our fear and tell us it’s all going to be okay. A deep-seated desire to not face life alone.

What are your thoughts?

Or maybe the dog saves the day...

Or maybe the dog saves the day…