Man, I really hope I’m not the only girl. I walk down the dark, narrow hallway to the Auto class. I had chosen to take it so I could fix any issues my car had on my own. However, I was beginning to wonder if it had been such a good idea. I round the corner, and see the open door. I take a deep breath, and walk in.
There is not one girl in the crowd of faces looking at me. Crap, crap, crap! Suddenly, one of the boys speaks up.
“This is Auto Mechanics…What class are you looking for?”
I smile and say that this is where I’m supposed to be, walking on wooden legs to my desk. What have I done? Just then, the teacher walks in. It’s Mr. Haacke, my old welding teacher, and he smiles when he sees me.
“So, you’re the princess among the frogs, eh?” He chuckles, and sits down. More students continue to file in. All of them are boys. Behind me I hear whispering, and manage to pick out one recurring question.
“What’s a girl doing here?”
What have I done? I think to myself for the hundredth time.
The year goes on. As I speak with more of the other students, it becomes clear they still think I will fail. Some are nice and we become fast friends. Others are patronizing, offering to help me and talking to me like I’m stupid. However, I soon prove them wrong. By the time we get to the lab portion of the class, I am well ahead of the majority of them. I go in more confident than before, eager to continue to prove them wrong.
And I do.
I change tires and balance them just as well as any of the boys. I take apart a brake and put it back together twice as fast as any of them (maybe having smaller “delicate” fingers isn’t such a bad thing?), and finish top of the class.
While I found, and still find, this experience to be amusing, it made me think about what our society expects of each gender. Today, even after many women’s rights movements, women are still classified as the weaker sex; supposed to stay at home, raise the kids, do the cooking and housework. When someone acts out of these norms, like when I joined Auto Mechanics, it creates conflict. We have become so used to seeing these gender roles displayed that we have begun to accept them as normal and as what we are supposed to do. But what happens when we don’t conform?