I know that some people find affirmations very useful. They can be encouraging, can give some people strength and security, and can help people “reprogram” themselves after bad experiences and emotional problems.
But certain manufacturers have gone too far, in my irritated opinion.
I’m not someone who benefits from most “affirming phrases.” And I sure as heck do not need to be uplifted and encouraged by my sanitary products. Just because I have two X chromosomes and the biology that goes with them doesn’t mean I want to read chipper and empowering slogans when I look at packaging, especially packaging for stuff like this.
Actually, I’m heartily tired of the “you go Girl! Show the patriarchy what you’re made of” rah-rah junk. The US is not a patriarchy, women are not oppressed by society at large, and we can do anything our minds are capable of and that our bodies are strong enough to do, if we want it badly enough. This ain’t Saudi, or Guatemala, or China. If girls have the talent and the desire, they can be theoretical physicists, professional athletes, soldiers, astronauts, pilots, engineers, brain surgeons, garbage collectors, farmers, loggers, truck drivers, corporate presidents, accountants, teachers, costume designers, dancers, authors, and anything else. Yes, we have certain biological limitations and things we have to keep in mind. (So do smaller, leaner guys in some cases.)
I’ve worked for a business that was pretty darn patriarchal. The owner was well-meaning, traditional, but quite willing to hire a woman who could do the job and pull her own weight, just like the guys. He preferred that the women in his family stay with more traditional roles, but also acknowledged that without a good, well-educated wife and mother, the family would be in a lot of trouble. One of the supervisors was a horse’s patoot and felt threatened by a smart, unmarried woman without a father near-by to keep her in check. He also had serious problems at home that he took out on all his fellow employees, male and female. (At least he was even-handed about that.)
I’ve worked with (and around) guys who took the “male head of the family” too far and got in the way as I tried to do what I needed to on the job, because they could not stand not intervening when a woman did physical labor. That was what men did. Women had their sphere, men had theirs, and it made them feel as if they were failing their duties if I moved planes and equipment by myself. That got… annoying… quickly, because it wasn’t safe for any of us.
MomRed, Grandmother Red, my other grandmother, my great aunts, they all worked outside the home. At one point, Grandmother Red was de facto in charge of the largest parts warehouse in Houston, keeping track of and sending out everything from automotive engine parts to washers for sinks to gas-valves for baking ovens to Steelcase™ desks and cans of mimeograph fluid. One aunt worked for the Houston Fat Stock Show, another was a seamstress, one was a civilian secretary in the US Navy. One acted on Vaudeville and never drove or took a train if she could fly – this being in the 1930s-50s!
I don’t need affirmations to tell me that I can do what I want to and what I am physically capable of achieving. A pound sign and “go girl” don’t mean zip. Giving me room to try and to fail, and to learn and try again is a lot more important. And saying that I “should” be an engineer even if I’m not wired that way, and dumbing down the coursework so that I can be patted on the head and called an engineer? That’s more damaging to me and to every person with two X chromosomes than is the outright discrimination and abuse in places like the Sudan or China.
You want girls to go farther? Then skip the affirmations on feminine hygiene products and just get out of our way. Let girls be girls, let boys be boys, and if we go different ways, then hey, let us go different ways.