Is It “Cute” To Be Scared?
Recently, a New York Times article came out online that posed the question “Why do we teach girls that it’s cute to be scared?”
Well, the title was really more of a statement than a question. It was never really answered in the article. It claimed we teach girls to not take risks, to be afraid to launch out in the world and go for our dreams. It was written by a woman who said she was one of the first women firefighters in the San Francisco fire department. She talked about how she didn’t flinch pulling bloated bodies out of buildings and worked in neighborhoods where gangs fought with machetes and .22s. She expected people might question whether she had the physical ability to do her job but was dismayed when more people asked “Weren’t you scared”? This insulted her. Was she talking about strength or fear? Maybe both.
Her view is that “fear conditioning” is taught early. What she meant by this is that girls are cautioned not to take risks, much more than boys. She says we fail to prepare them for life. All I know is my parents never taught me that being afraid or not taking risks was cute. My mother wrote the bestselling book Fascinating Womanhood in 1963 and taught women to be all things feminine. She was the queen of feminine. What she did teach was we are different from men; they are larger and physically stronger. We have our own strengths and talents unique to us. We learned that women need to be vigilant in our safety however. We are more vulnerable than men. That’s just a fact. Does that mean taking extra safety precautions is wrong because it promotes fear of being raped or mugged?
When most women go out at night alone, we are more careful even than in the daytime. Law enforcement officers have cautioned us for years to park under lights and look around as we walk from a parking lot into a store. We are encouraged to carry pepper spray or a taser. We are careful. Of course we are. When was the last time you heard of a man being raped by a woman? Exactly. Not only that, we are kidnapped, mugged and abused more often than men.
Both male and female brains are wired to alert us to possible dangers, from real to all sorts of imagined threats. To say we are conditioned to feel fear is just not true. Fear must be managed, not eliminated. To attribute unnatural fear to parenting of girls is not fair.
Why Do Feminists Hold Masculinity Up As The Gold Standard?
Many women are spectacularly courageous. I don’t know if the writer has ever had a baby before but, giving birth and then, raising a child, takes a great deal of courage and strength. It's been said that if men had to have every other baby, no family would have more than 3 children. Most men simply wouldn’t put up with the pain and discomfort of being pregnant and going through the birth process. The whole idea that we must emulate men’s physical strength as well as aggression is permeating our culture. We are losing touch with the value of being female. Women are different from men but every bit as precious. Why is it half the time men are held up as the gold standard by feminists? The other half of the time these same women treat men like they are all worthless and not to be trusted. So why do we so often feel we must be more like men to be validated? Masculine attributes are celebrated today in women more than feminine ones.
The woman who wrote the article said she was a 5’10”, 150 pound ex-college athlete. If she were a man, that would sound a tad wimpy wouldn’t it? In addition, she would be no physical match for most men the same age, height and weight. But nevertheless, she seems to take a lot of pride at being able to do something men traditionally dominate. She can do what she wants, but there is no need to take the approach that there is something wrong with most of us being traditional women.
Femininity Should Be Our Gold Standard
We need to be proud of being feminine women. That is our gold standard. We don’t have to compete with, look like or act like men to be of worth. Being feminine is not weak; it’s female. Take pride in being you!