Recently I read an article, “It’s Not Cute to be Scared,” in the February 21, 2016 Sunday edition of the New York Times. Writer Caroline Paul, a firefighter, had a beef: Girls are primed to be afraid; boys are prodded to face their fears. End result: girls turn into women who exhibit ‘deference and timid decision making,’ when they face challenging situations. Paul cites studies where boys are encouraged to take risks, while girls are warned away from difficult physical tasks.
This explains how many women reacted to my 25 years as co-captain on two big boats my husband and I owned. Men were jealous of the experience; women usually cringed. They asked me: “Aren’t you scared?” They never asked my husband the same question.
At no time in our quarter of a century cruising the Inside Passage (sometimes as far as from Washington’s north coast all the way to Alaska anbd back), were we ever reckless. Did bad seas, wind, current, debris, whales, and boat malfunctions challenge us? You bet. Was I frightened at times when we encountered unforeseen challenges? Of course. But why would some women ask me if boating scared me when they never asked the same question of my husband?
Listen. I grew up side by side with the feminist movement. Gloria Steinem is older than I am, but I consider her an icon, a mover and shaker in the women’s movement. My parents, however, weren’t privy to Steinem’s exhortation for parents to treat boys and girls the same way. Luckily, I grew up in a period when parents left us alone to experience life; my upbringing was probably more 'free range' than I see child-raising today.
In this helicopter parent age, are girls and boys challenged equally? When you read Gever Tulley's “50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do,” are you translating inclusion of all genders in the equation?
This makes me want to ask: Were you, as a female, told by parents, teachers and friends, to be careful all the time? Were your brothers/male friends cautioned in the same way? Did you grow up scared? Were you ever given the idea that being afraid was 'cute'? I'd love to hear about your experience.
Here’s the blurb and the buy sites.
Tally Rosella, an acclaimed psychiatrist who helps children fraught with anxiety, avoids adults because their brains rant at her. But the chance to start a second child study and connect her findings to PTSD, sets her squarely among devious colleagues at a big California university.
Army Major Cole Messer, Tally’s new neighbor, won’t admit that trauma from combat tours in Afghanistan, destroyed his marriage and hampered his ability to lead. As a teacher of college ROTC and single parent, he’s focused on enrolling his highly anxious son in Tally’s study and getting back to active duty.
Someone is dead set against Tally’s presence at the university, and blowback from her battles with co-workers put Cole and his son in jeopardy. Watch what happens when people struggling with shades of anxiety collide with corrupt, revengeful foes.