I had a dream last night in which a child was screaming and crying in her father’s arms, saying she wanted her mommy. The scene flashed to the saddened father sitting at a picnic table, and as I was talking to him, his daughter, now a teenager, walked up and yelled at him, and without apology ended with, “Because I’m a girl!”
I woke up and wondered, “What was that all about?” It had nothing to do with the current #MeToo or #TimesUp movements, but I think it did have something to do with our culture. Two things came to mind: hormones and being a female firefighter.
The “Because I’m a girl” statement in my dream felt like it had something to do with hormones. Although I’ve experienced some hormonal emotions, especially since hitting menopause, I’ve had only one really intense, nearly-out-of-control feeling. I actually had to tell myself I was feeling the way I was because of hormones, and I was able to control myself—for the most part. There was no other logical explanation. Although hormones might give us a reason for behaving or reacting badly, they don’t give us the right. Girls should never use hormones as an excuse for negative behavior, and should apologize if that behavior hurts someone.
As an older, petite female firefighter, the thought sometimes runs through my mind—not as an excuse, but as a reason—that I can’t do some of the things my firefighter brothers can or as well, “because I’m a girl”. I try not to let it discourage or stop me, but I do try to work hard within my limitations and adapt, just as some male firefighters of short stature or older age have to. I want to be an asset and not a liability, so I am tremendously grateful that the volunteer department I’m with recognizes my strengths along with my weaknesses. My leaders know me and give me opportunities to serve and to become better. They challenge me, and they aren’t afraid of offending me by assigning someone more capable of doing a particular job. Neither do they take away my bunker gear because I’m older, or smaller, or because I’m a girl.
01/19/2018 Addition: A thought came to mind, and I realized I should have said that my limitations as a firefighter have less to do with being a girl and more to do with being older and smaller. Our Battalion Chief is a woman, and can keep up with the men. We also had a teen junior firefighter who beat out boys to be the state champion in SkillsUSA! So even though there are some biological differences between females and males, I need—we as a culture need to stop using the excuse or reason, “because I’m a girl”.
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