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From me to you, highlighting challenges faced by girls

Dear Daughters, Girls Can Change a Flat

Dear Daughters,

Today I learned that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that I should not be able to change a tire.

As I backed out of the driveway for work this morning I knew I wasn’t going to make it far. Something was not right and it felt like a flat tire. I was right. The left rear tire was so flat, the part of it sitting on the ground looked like liquid. Everything happens for a reason right? I like to think that this flat tire was keeping me off the highway this morning because I just wasn’t supposed to be there, or maybe it was the universe giving me another personal anecdote to use on Dear Daughters. Whatever the reason, I had a flat and I did not know how to change a tire.

I know the basic steps and their order of completion but not well enough to be confident in my ability to perform the proper safety steps to avoid the van from falling on me, for instance. I do not have confidence that I will secure the tire properly enough that it won’t snap off once I put the van into drive. As always, this made me stop and think…why not? Why do I not know how/trust myself enough to change my own tire? Why is it a safe assumption in our society that all men know how and are confident enough in their ability to do so that they will change tires not only for friends, but for complete strangers stranded on the side of a road?

Don’t get me wrong, I do know a fair amount of women who know how to change tires and I would not hesitate to call them. However, I cannot think of one man I know right now that would not be able to change his own tire (although I am sure they exist). Why is that?

I am a woman who grew up with the opportunity to do exactly what my brothers did. I was never told I could not do something just because I was a girl. I played hockey, baseball, and soccer. I had to take my turn washing the car and mowing the lawn just like my brothers. We were very busy with sports so most likely if our car needed repairs, my dad (my mom doesn’t drive) probably repaired it and rushed us to our next event without us even knowing there had been a problem. He did not teach my brothers how to change a tire and exclude me, it is just not something any of us learned. So why do I still rely on others to change my tire while my brothers change their own?

It really boils down to the fact that I never really had to learn. There were enough people out there (mostly guys) who knew how to do it. I could rely on my dad and once I got married, my husband. But now I am divorced and don’t “have a man” so now I need to rely on myself, as I should have all along. And now that I needed to know, I learned. Ironically, guess who I learned from? None other than my ex-husband who generously came and changed my tire for me this morning. While he was changing my tire, I made sure to learn how to do it myself. And I am going to make sure you, my dear daughters, learn how to change your own tires. It seems to me that even girls who are raised free of stereotypes in their own home, still fall victim to many of society’s stereotypes and expectations. One of my friends says in her household there are “pink jobs” and “blue jobs”. Most of the “blue jobs” involve technical skills and strength and are performed by her husband. Changing a tire would fall in the “blue job” category. I was horrified to think she would assign gender to these jobs but as I reflect on my own life and the couples I know well, sadly, for the majority of them, they seem to follow the “pink” and “blue” job trend.

Jobs are jobs, there are no “pink” jobs and “blue” jobs. I am determined to raise my daughters to be able to complete any job on any list so they do not have to rely on anyone but themselves. There is too much “pink” and “blue” divide in our society and it is affecting our children.

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