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Crying Like A Girl illustration by Hannah BartleMy friend has been struck by an insan­ity induced by the pres­ence of chil­dren. She cries when she sees tod­dlers hug­ging their par­ents, obli­vi­ous to the fact that the par­ent is only just restrain­ing them­selves from squeez­ing the liv­ing day­lights out of the brat who, only moments ago, stopped cry­ing after three days straight. She takes pho­tos of adults being kissed by babies — this is not a joke — and posts them online. She’s talked about baby names, but at last check Sparta­cus was at the top of the list, so that’s not going well.

My friend has fallen vic­tim to that mad­ness that comes over women in their late 30s who meant to have chil­dren but haven’t man­aged to find the right man, or the right mis­take, or the right moment in their career to take mater­nity leave.

Bal­an­cing ambi­tion and ovar­ies: just one of the many down­sides to being born without a doodle. Here’s anoth­er one. The monthly gentle sug­ges­tion that maybe what you’re say­ing is a little irra­tion­al because maybe, you know, it’s that time again. Nice work. That’s a sure-fire way to induce irra­tion­al anger. Then, as a spe­cial treat for every­one, all women who live or work togeth­er start mak­ing like an Apple device and syncing. Only, we’re not syncing our way into the Apple cloud. We’re pretty much syncing ourselves and every­one around us down into the Chris­ti­an oppos­ite. Thanks a lot, Eve. I hope that was at least a can­died apple you sold us out for.

We girls learn about the curse early. Try climb­ing a tree in a dress. The only boys who know what I’m talk­ing about come from the Pacific Islands and medi­ev­al Scot­land. After the tree phase it briefly becomes a won­der­ful thing to be a girl. There’s mum’s per­fumes, your friend’s makeup and your own first bra. By 20, you hate those boob braces.

Think that’s it? Oh no. Blow-dry­ing, bikini-wax­ing, Botox, breast­feed­ing. And those are just the words start­ing with ‘b’. Cry­ing like a little girl, driv­ing like a woman, nag­ging like a fish­wife. Even the Eng­lish lan­guage picks on us.

Now, what you’re read­ing is a well-dis­guised argu­ment for pay­ing women at least the same as men. At least! Right now, guys earn more across the board, just because they’re guys. Maybe it’s because they’re pushi­er in pay nego­ti­ations, or his­tor­ic­ally the bread­win­ners, or men in a man’s world. Rub­bish. Women deserve to be paid equal because we are men’s equals. But we’re more extraordin­ary because we pull that off while privately cop­ing with being a woman. You know those gender signs where boys get the circle with the arrow point­ing out one side and girls get the circle with the plus sign dangling off the bot­tom? That plus sign stands for plus more pay.

Hav­ing said that, giv­en that a plus is the inter­na­tion­al sign for pos­it­ive, it’s pos­sible that who­ever dished out the gender signs just had an iron­ic sense of humour.

Heather du Plessis-Allan

Heather is a Jafa who's called Wellington home for seven years and counitng. The wind still drives her crazy, but the bucket fountain still makes her smile. She's running around Oriental Bay and learning to surf Lyall Bay. Her day job is reporting for TVNZ's Seven Sharp.

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