A couple of weeks ago I changed a tire for my neighbor and her sixteen year old daughter. Neither of them had any idea how to go about it. They were completely lost, reading the owner's manual of the car, couldn't figure out how to work the jack, much less where to put it under the car. There was no way they would be able to do it themselves.

I learned the same day that my wife simply didn't know how to throw a ball. She threw like a girl, so I teased her about it. She got upset and told me that no one had ever shown her how to throw a ball. I taught her how to throw a baseball, then a football. She was actually pretty good, once she was taught the proper technique.

I am the father of a beautiful four year old daughter, and these realizations troubled me a great deal. What if my daughter was stuck somewhere all alone and had to change her tire? What if her oil light came on?

I then resolved to make sure that my daughter knows the following:

Most importantly, I will teach her that she is beautiful, and that hate is ugly.

I was lucky. My parents never suggested that anything was out of my reach, just because I was a girl, or that anything was offlimits because of my sex. If I wanted to grow up to be a ballerina, an astronaut, a surgeon, the prime minister, well, it was up to me to work for it and find out what I needed.* I was taught to bowl, and throw, to cycle like a lunatic, to ride horses at high speed, to use a library, and to fight my corner.

My school, however, disagreed with this modern nonsense, and insisted that I wasted time baking jam tarts and learning to sew aprons, and worrying about if people thought my bum was too big.

So, teach her:
to use power tools without fear or foolishness
the basics of plumbing and wiring
to climb a ladder
to balance a chequebook and not panic about finance
to stop apologising, and blaming herself for other people's problems
to be bold and brave and strong
to explore and cherish adventures
to climb trees and not cry about dirt on her clothes
to laugh like a drain
to ignore any comments about something being "not for girls" or "not suitable for a lady"
to value style over fashion
to understand the offside rule
to say no without guilt
that she can learn anything she wants to learn
Oh. hey. all these ideas work for boys, too.

Now, will someone please pass me a stepladder so i can get down from this damned high horse?

* and they didn't get depressed when I decided to join the circus or be a Great British Novelist. Still unable to juggle, and still stuck on non-fiction. Sigh.

As several others have pointed out, females are not alone in experiencing the inadequacies of gender role typing. While in the Army I met many men who couldn't cook, sew or clean. One chap in particular I recall, placed an entire box of laundry detergent in the washing machine with his clothes. While the entire platoon spent the wee hours of the night scooping soap suds out of the washroom with shovels, he proclaimed "I've never washed my clothes, my mom always did it. How was I supposed to know?"

It's true that he could have simply read the instructions on the box, but that's avoiding the point. I know as many men as I do women who are affected by this sort of problem.

I consider myself lucky and thank my mother dearly for pulling me aside at a very young age and teaching me "womens work". Due to her foresight I can bake a cake, darn my socks, and iron pleats as well as replace a radiator, build a table, and lay tile.

As an aside, my mother also taught me how to quickly kill and clean game.

I can build a computer, fix a car or a ring mains wiring system, am technically competent at techie things. But although these are useful skills to have, the below are essential life skills for women, and things that, in the main, are not taught to girls:

  • Self-defence. If they're physically able, some form of martial art. If not, women's self-defence classes. Basic self-defence techniques for women can be learnt by almost anyone.
  • How to fight back, verbally and physically: standing up for themselves.
  • Independence of thought: how to rely on your own judgment, without feeling the constant need to refer to others for advice.
  • Independence of action: avoiding the 'ask a man' syndrome.
  • Assertion: how to state their needs, opinions and preferences without aggression or feeling like they need to apologise.
  • The art of debate: ties in with the above - how to hold your end up in an intellectual debate and respect your own opinion, without being dogmatic or over-emotional in the face of argument.
  • The art of abstract conversation: how to converse generally, without constantly turning the conversation to relationships or feelings.

Yup, there are probably heaps more..

  • That you get to come too when you're fucking...

  • ... OK, fine, or at least that you should get to come at some point, before after or during fucking, and that he should in fact give a damn that you do.

  • That the housewives that didn't were missing out, and that sacrifice isn't cool; nor is stoicism, heroism, or love for your man.

  • That you have a CLITORIS and damn it's cool.

  • That just lying there and letting him hump at you won't do it.

  • What to do instead of just lying there and letting him hump at you.

  • That showing him where your CLITORIS is is OK.

  • In fact, that he probably actually wants to know where it is and will enjoy this all much better once you're starting to act like more than a hole in the wall.

  • That you're probably going to have to teach him to give head. And no, that it's not fair that nobody really taught you and you were expected to be able to suck him off like a vacuum from Day #1, but that that's how it goes. And that if he won't give you head there's a 50/50 chance that he doesn't know how!!!!

  • That he's not annoyed at you for wasting his time by trying to help him to help you orgasm!

  • That, as rewarding as it is, the sheer knowledge that he got off and that you're oh so very very very much in love with him does not make you sexually fulfilled.

  • That you're kidding yourself if you think it does.

Oh yeah, and all that other stuff about cars and power tools and stuff like that goes too. Um, yeah. This may seem common sense to you, but I know how long it took me to figure it out, and it sickens me. I know how many people have yet to figure it out and it doesn't actually sicken me, so to speak. It just makes me really, really sad.

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