My earliest memories are of Monroeville, Pennsylvania. We moved to the Pittsburgh suburbs when I was a toddler. My father, recently graduated from college, had gotten a job at US Steel. For a brief moment, it looked as though I wouldn't be saddled with the accent of my parents. Alas, it didn't happen. We moved back. Nonetheless, the first enduring memory I have was of the fallout when my brothers lit a bit of wooded area behind our rented house on fire. I remember Halloween that year. I remember visiting my grandfather's horses at a local farm there. Fleeting memories. We lived in the rented house while our house was built in Irwin.
What does all this have to do with being a feminist, you ask?
I attended my first birthday party in Irwin. I was in kindergarten. My best friend was my next-door neighbor, Gina Stewart, who in reality, was a spoiled, insufferable little brat. We didn't hang that much. I did a lot of playing alone in our flat, unlandscaped back yard or swinging on the swing set. But Gina and I went to the party together with my "real" best friends, Randy and Roger Oates (the twins), but of course a girl wasn't allowed to have boy best friends back then. In any event, I have no idea who the party was for. I do recall what seemed like endless row upon row of tables with paper covers, each with a place setting and a child's name, and a party hat. I found my place and my hat. It was a nurses cap.
A nurse's cap.
A nurse's cap?
But I didn't want to be a nurse. Nurses sucked. Slowly but surely, it began to sink in. I had gotten a nurse's cap because I was a girl. The boys had policeman caps and fireman caps and doctor caps. The girls had nurse caps and teacher caps that I think had rulers and such on them.
I was being indoctrinated into a sexist society in kindergarten.
What amazes me more is that I refused to wear the hat. I rejected the assumption. If they wouldn't give me a police hat or a fireman hat or a doctor hat, I wouldn't wear a hat at all. I remember some female adult, possibly the mother of the birthday child, encouraging me to wear the hat. I flatly refused and it was dropped.
I'm sure the last thing a mother hosting 30 children needs is an irate four-and-a-half year old feminist on her hands.
It was quite possibly my first instance of social disobedience.
PS: Whoa! I can't believe I found this. Here is exactly what I'm talking about. The kid holding the baby in this video is wearing the hat. It is also from the 60s.
Hair jokes and an uppity reporter.
19 hours ago