As a little girl, I worked at my uncle’s recycling shop most summers. I lifted various metals: carbonite, steel, all the heavy stuff. I’d consider myself a pretty strong girl in the physical sense. Even so, as a child, I was always told that boys were stronger than me. Whether it was in a direct sense or by micro-aggressions like “I need some strong boys to help me carry chairs.”
I was always annoyed by statements like these, especially because at such a young age none of us had really developed muscles yet. So, why, then, do we consider boys strong and girls weak from such a young age? How many girls have been taught that we should let our dads, brothers and boyfriends change a tire or carry something heavy?
Many girls don’t know how to defend themselves due to being viewed as weak, which is relatively damaging. Since girls are taught to let a man do things for them, we’re often never taught to change a tire or shoot a gun. Women are put at risk in situations where they don’t have to be just because they need to ask a stranger for help, whereas most men know how to change a tire themselves. This is just one example on a whole list of risky situations we’re put in by not being taught “masculine” things that should just be common knowledge.
I know that I, for one, was raised the same as my brother. I was taught to change a tire and defend myself, but after puberty, that changed. Maybe I started to see myself as weak because of the way I had been treated by others as a child, or maybe I truly was weaker than my male peers. But why did they see girls as weak? Where did this whole idea start that females aren’t as strong as males and that we can’t take care of ourselves?
A common theory is that a million or so years ago before society had developed, women were just about constantly pregnant. Because of this, men had to do most of the work involving tools, women were viewed as weak. There’s only one problem with this theory: women actually did most of the foraging in hunter-gatherer societies, so it’s not exactly probable that they were constantly out of commission due to pregnancies. It’s more likely that this type of thinking evolved when monarchies developed and women were little more than baby-making machines.
The answer to this is simple: raise boys and girls the same. If a girl wants to learn to shoot a gun, drive a tractor or lift weights - let her. Encourage girls to be strong both physically and mentally.