Societal Expectations Connections to the Unit Theme: Ever-Changing Adolescence Identities
Discuss • Discuss chapter 6 notes- gender roles and societal expectations: • Do you feel that these gender roles, as discovered by Myers when he was growing up in the 1940s, still apply today in 2012? • Can you add to that list? • What other kinds of restrictions are you frustrated with?
Ann Curry • Read Ann Curry’s letter to her younger self from the book, "What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self“.
Hey there, Anner, I'm watching you fend for yourself at your first job in a six-man newsroom in Medford, Oregon, population fifty thousand. Every day that you walk into that smoke-filled all-male stronghold, you feel like it could be your last day on the job. You're doing twice as many stories as your middle-aged colleagues, but failure seems to lurk just around the corner. One of these gentlemen even said it to your face: "You have no news judgment -- and besides, you can't carry the camera." Oh yeah? Watch me, you thought, ever more ferocious in your determination. You feel energized knowing that your performance could pave the way -- or close the door -- for the women behind you. Bu there's a profound fear underneath the bravado. Will you -- the half-Japanese outsider who never fit in while growing up in all-white Ashland, Oregon -- have to change some deep part of yourself to make it in this world? Your heart is weighed down by the worry that you'll never be seen for who you really are, that you'll always be misunderstood. The irony is that you, Ann, have struggled your whole life against being put in an easily categorized box. And now, the girl whose appearance always prompted questions like "What are you? Hispanic? Asian?" is thrusting herself into an industry where looks count for so much. The girl who's happy in grungy flannel shirts and jeans has to learn how to pluck her eyebrows, put on makeup, and wear suits. You're conforming to what people expect you to look like -- but it's scaring the heck out of you.
Think back. You've never bent to those kind of expectations before. Remember that your Japanese immigrant mother wanted so much for you to be pretty and popular that when you were in fifth grade, she hemmed your skirts to miniskirt length and bought you a pair of go-go boots. You wore the mini skirt to school and ripped out the hem because you knew it didn't matter if you were pretty or fit in. You wanted to be smart. You were happy being a maverick. You were extremely opinionated, but were also extremely nonjudgmental. No matter what anybody thought, if they truly felt it, it was okay with you. You refused to judge other people. But now you're in the real world and the real world seems to have no hesitation about judging you on appearance, so you're changing as fast as you can. You've cut off your waist-length hair, gotten a perm, and you wear floppy bow ties to the station. You're even cussing. No more “Horsefeathers!" or "Heavens to Mergatroid!" You're spewing real curse words to make sure these old guys don't feel threatened by heaving a woman in the newsroom. Is it surprising that you hardly recognize yourself? You should understand that being different is fantastic. In fact, rejoice in all those things that make you different. Ultimately, it's not how you look or what group you're in that will determine your success in the world. I think you can carve new territory, you can do something completely out of the box, and if it is an act of love and goodness, it will be completely embraced -- as bizarre as that may seem.
If you can have faith in your real self, you'll suffer less. You won't waste valuable time that could be spent on more important things At forty-seven, I sometimes feel like a late bloomer. I feel it would have been possible to do much more, much sooner, if I hadn't been so worried. What I know now after the loss of my mother, my brother and all the suffering I've covered as a news reporter is that there's no time to waste. It's time to be bold about who you really are. With love, Ann
It's time to be bold about who you really are. • Discuss what you thinks this means… • Homework: • Write a letter to your future self (in ten years) how you plan to overcome these restrictions, hurdles, and expectations in your life. • Letters will be sealed in an envelope and given back to you at the end of the school year.