Perspiration by Gender

I was out in the garden after a couple days off and there was so much that needed to be harvested. As the rivulets of sweat freely ran down over my glasses and I gave up trying to wipe them away, a story popped into my mind of my early training as a young girl. My mother was repeating a tale she’d been told as a child, one of those that are used to cement gender roles and the rules of polite society.

A little girl came into the house from playing and declared, “I’m so sweaty!” Her mother, shocked and horrified, told the girl, “Nice young ladies do not sweat, they perspire. The girl did not know this word and had trouble pronouncing it. Her mother said, think of it like a church spire and it’s easier to say.

The girl went back out to play and ran into the minister out on the sidewalk. He asked if she was having a nice August day, and she replied in a proud and polite manner, “It is so hot out here, I believe I am persteepling.”

This story made a big impression on me as a child. I was learning in not-so-subtle ways what was acceptable for girls vs boys. Girls had to learn to hold their knees together when they sat, not to speak too loudly, and to wait patiently for their turn, unlike the boys who were like wild things with no good manners.

Times have changed so much since those days in the 50’s and 60’s of American society. Is it any wonder how the generations look at one another with amazement for the biases they hold – or are ignoring? I think I have come a long way since my childhood indoctrination and have become aware of so much that we all took for granted many years past. It makes me sad for all the boys and girls who did not fit easily into the molds that were closing in around them and had to keep their real natures hidden in a secret inner box. Especially, I cry for those who accepted the stories they were told and hated themselves for the ways they were “wrong.”

I believe the world is gradually improving, generation to generation. The things I have overcome and the rules that sank too deep into my DNA to ever be completely erased will one day be read about with disbelief by future generations. How could they have ever thought that!?

About bluestempond

Hobby farmer living at Bluestem Pond in Michigan.
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1 Response to Perspiration by Gender

  1. acquest13 says:

    Made me think of my mum who used to say ‘ horses sweat, men perspire, ladies merely glow’. 😅😅

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