Much like every little girl, there was a time in my life when I wanted to grow up to be a princess. By the time I was 4, I was exploring my talents and the possibility of becoming an Olympic Gold-Medalist in Gymnastics or a professional Ballerina. Throughout my early teens I dabbled with the ideas of becoming a nurse, a successful business woman, or a teacher. Now, I am a freshman in college, still quite unsure upon which career field I will land, however, throughout my life there is one idea that has never been lost upon me – that someday I want to be a mom. All my life I have known that I want to fall in love, get married, settle down, and have children – a dream that in today’s society may be labled as “old-fashioned” or “domestic”.
The word “domestic” is described in Keywords for Children’s Literature as having “a connotation of the old-fashioned, especially of a world in which fiction for middle-class girls was expected to facilitate adjustments to home duties and focus primarily on the interior, both of the home and of the individual, rather than on outdoor adventure or imperial conquest.” (67)
The very girly and feminine part of my heart doesn’t see a problem with falling into this description of the word “domestic”, but there are so many rambunctious little girls reading books in which this definition of domestic is so prevalent, that is it understandable why they start to feel like this kind of behavior is what’s expected of them and that if this is not what they want, they are “not normal”. Characters like Jo in Little Women, are constantly made to feel like they need to act a certain way and look a certain way, but what happens when they start to push these boundaries?
Actually, women have been pushing these boundaries for quite some time, and in the case of the US Military, they are succeeding! As of December 2015, all combat occupations have been opened to women who meet the requirements; meaning, there is now no limit to the roles that women can hold in the military.
As a woman in the military, there is another, more daring, part of my heart that feels the urge to abandon my lifelong domestic dreams to chase a different one. But will I? I’m not sure. Just because there are more jobs available to women, doesn’t mean they are taking them. It’s more about the principle of the matter. It is so important for there to be the opportunity for women to fill these jobs, to be given the choice.
So many women want the opportunity to choose and to do whatever they want, but often times there seems to be something that forces them to fall through on their intentions. Like Jo “who had formerly thought about forgoing marriage and pursing a professional career … abandoned that dream and become a model and … even multivalent [mother].” (223)
What is it that makes us so badly crave the opportunity to choose the way we want to live our lives as women, without any limitations, but still fall back on the domestic and somewhat stereotypical gender roles we’ve tried for centuries to break?