And girls … well, girls don’t.
In my family I was the only girl for 12 long years, surrounded by boy cousins.
While I was doing lame stuff, like dressing the barn cats in doll clothes, those bratty boys were whooping it up in the hay wagon.
Everywhere I looked, gender expectations were in place. Girls had pink pencils and played with boring Barbie dolls. Boys were too cool to even carry pencils. And they got to be dangerous by jumping homemade ramps on their bikes.
Apparently no one but me got the hint about my dark future as a traditional female.
Looking back now, I am surprised that I didn’t blow up my Easy-Bake Oven. Lord knows the smoke alarm in my apartment sounds much more frequently than my doorbell.
When my high school teacher told my parents that journalism was not a field for women, I realized that the boy versus girl business could be a big problem.
I was told to become a teacher or a nurse. Trust me, I would have been lousy at either of those professions. But the biggest sting was being told to choose a career based on my sex.
So just to avoid doing what I was told, I became a social worker.
I also became a young and very naïve single mother.
My world was again rocked when I tried to get a much higher paying job as a forklift driver. When I tried to show the hiring manager that I could operate the forklift, he flatly let me know that he would never hire a woman. I wanted to hijack the forklift and pin him to the wall with it.
While interviewing for another job, the male supervisor quoted nearly $12,000 less on the salary than what I knew it to be. When I challenged that, he barked that only “the bread winner of the family” was offered that amount.
“Excuse me, pig head,” I wanted to say. “But you’re looking at the breadwinner.”
I bit my tongue though. By then I knew if I admitted that I did have a baby but not a husband, I would never get the job. Later I learned that because I dared to question him about the salary, he chose someone else.
Like countless other women, I was also sexually harassed in many workplaces. Because I had a child to raise, I spent a lot of energy avoiding any opportunity for men to “accidentally” rub up against me and worse.
Also like many women, I was helpless when men stole my ideas. When male bosses put their workload off on me and male co-workers made twice the money I made, but worked a lot less than me, the rage I felt was almost too much to bear.
To survive it all, I developed a poor attitude and a foul mouth to match it.
Unfortunately, years went by before many women – including me – were ever lucky enough to work for wonderful male employers in much more positive environments.
In the last 30 years a lot has been done to protect female employees. Yet in some arenas we are still discriminated against. We are not always paid equal wages, either.
Chauvinists just have enough sense these days to more quietly discriminate.
Well, a few days ago I cried and cried while watching a female accept the Democratic nomination for president.
The moment was not political for me.
The moment was history being made.
With every step Hillary Clinton took across that stage, she was guaranteeing my future granddaughters and their daughters professional respect and equal pay.
The moment was a delicious “Yes!” for a worn-out old feminist like me.
The moment was a forever gift to young girls everywhere.
Sherri Coner is an award-winning journalist and humor writer who speaks to women’s groups. To learn about her books for women and to join her on Facebook, visit www.sherriconer.com.