Ever since I was a little girl I always had an obsession with women who were different than the "average woman". When I was a wee little girl I was smacked on the knuckles by the nuns far too many times for asking why everyone always blamed Eve for everything. When I was nine years old, I was given a spanking at school because I wrote a paper in class that I thought that Adam was the weak one because he ate the apple and that Eve was merely curious. I was sent to confess my sins to the priest and was sent home for the day.
Growing up as a little feminist bad-ass in a Catholic school was very difficult until they finally ended up kicking me out, thank Goddess. From a very young age, I can remember asking my mother why the man was the one who led the services and not the nuns. I would constantly get in trouble when I asked questions as to why females were portrayed somewhat negatively in the bible. They tried to brainwash me, but I've been known to have an extremely strong character and thumbed my nose at all that they taught me about being a good little girl.
As a young Latina growing up in Los Angeles, I rarely had role models of women who rejected conventional gender roles. Most of the women in my immigrant neighborhood catered to their husbands and sons, my young friends catered to the boys in the neighborhood while practically doing backflips to get pregnant, and my teachers pretty much expected me to grow up and wipe a man's ass. Frustrating and depressing, to say the least.
The only refuge I had were my books and occasional shows on television. The first book that made my heart jump for joy about being a bad-ass little girl was The Paper Bag Princess. I've blogged about the book before, and the first time I read it as a child it was like a little light bulb went off in my head that I was not the only girl who was different than the others. It was the first time that I had ever seen a girl or woman who was portrayed in a powerful light.
I later graduated to reading all of the Nancy Drew books, which I can't currently recall, but I remember loving as a child. I also fell in love with Anne Frank and Wonderwoman. I didn't have many other examples of strong, independent women and girls until I was in high school. After reading The Scarlet Letter in high school, I made a pact to myself that I would never let anyone make me feel ashamed for my sexuality. The book The Awakening was the first time that I had ever heard about a woman who was not happy with being a wife or mother and would rather commit suicide than live a constricted life.
These small little glimpses of unconventional women that I read growing up were life savers for me. Young girls who don't fit the typical mold can be prone to depression and might internalize that there is something wrong with them because they are different than other girls.
I've been running in search of strong, unconventional, and diverse women for years. I look for them everywhere-in books, on television, in music, in real life and make believe. It's something that I need to nourish my soul on those days when I walk around and am reminded that I am different than the average woman in society. It's my own personal brand of therapy and sometimes the only thing I can do to maintain my sanity in a world of fools.
Am I the only woman who was in this predicament as a child??