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Coming from Pagan Writers Press on March 8, 2013!

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Everyday Heroine: Aunt G.I. Jane

When you were a little girl, there was that woman you looked up to. She hung the moon in your eyes. She was just COOL. You said, "When I grow up, I wanna be just like her!"

Mine was Aunt G.I. Jane.

Due to her current occupation, my aunt wishes to remain anonymous and I am giving her a code name of her choice. It suits her. Not because she looks like Demi Moore, but because she has been in a position such as G.I. Jane more than once.

At the moment, she rises and works really long days (we're talking over 10 hours) with all male prisoners. She dresses in Battle Dress and starts her day with a morning wake-up run. Then she proceeds to do things we aren't allowed to reveal, but she is the ONLY woman drill instructor out of ten, disciplining 60 male prisoners.

Can you put yourself in her combat boots for a minute? You think it's awkward maybe giving a presentation in a room full of men? Imagine how she feels running, yelling, commanding, bossing men all day--and remember they've been put in prison for a reason. I'm sure more than one have a nasty attitude toward women.

Sometime in the afternoon, she runs again for 2 miles in 17 or 20 minutes.
There's also marching, cadence, drill movements, and other things.

Why does she do this job? you wonder. "Surely it's to help the women's rights movement," you declare.

She does this job because she got tired of working in a sawmill--not tired of the work itself, but tired of worrying about the constant layoffs and if she would have a job from day to day. There's nothing heroic in her career choice. She says that some of the greatest women in history didn't do what they did to prove anything to anyone but themselves. Instead of saying, "Look at me. I'm doing this," she says, "They did it to prove to themselves they could do it."

And that is how my aunt is. She does what she feels is right. She's not out to impress anyone, just prove things to herself.

She worked in a sawmill for seventeen years, another male-dominated profession. She witnessed fingers being cut off, arms pressed flat, and her first day on the job, a man actually asked her, "What are you doing here? Are you lost?"

You know what Aunt G.I. Jane said? 

"No. What, are you afraid I'm going to take your job?"

She says the man retired shortly thereafter, but other men doubted her at first. "Oh, you better go help her. It's going to get nasty", was a common attitude when she was around, but not for long. They would come to "help" her and she'd outwork them by doing both her job and theirs.

On top of this, her own family wasn't supportive of her career choice. "That's not a woman's job!"

I picture her back then, my aunt, chin up, eyes narrowed, a spunky grin on her face, as she puts on her hard hat and gloves. I imagine she looks much the same now as she gets up and puts on her BDUs and laces her combat boots. And I know what's going through her head as she did/does these things because her advice for women in male-dominated professions is quite simple: "Don't take their shit. Stand up for yourself. Keep your head up and trudge on."

My aunt never intended to be a feminist. There were no motives behind her life choices beyond "get a job, keep a job, do my job", but she's an everyday heroine. She's my everyday heroine. When I was a kid, teenager, young adult and I was trying to choose a career path for myself, I heard a lot of "You can't do that. You're deaf". But if anyone dared to say to me, "You can't do that. You're a woman", all I had to do was think of my aunt. "Look at this woman! Look at all she does and has done! Now tell me again a woman can't..."

She's a woman who faces obstacles everyday in her work, obstacles such as "She's a woman. She better be careful. Go help her. Is she lost? That's not women's work", yet in her mind she only has to prove herself to herself. That's tough. How many of us can say the same? That we don't have an agenda beyond ourselves for whatever we are doing?

What's HER idea of an everyday heroine?

"A person who does great things without expecting a reward or a pat on the back."

What's yours?


***

Tara Chevrestt is a deaf woman, former aviation mechanic, writer, and an editor. She is most passionate about planes, motorcycles, dogs, and above all, reading. That led to her love of writing. Between her writing and her editing, which allows her to be home with her little canine kids, she believes she has the greatest job in the world. She is very happily married.

Her theme is Strong is Sexy. She shares a website with her naughty pen name: http://tarachevrestt.weebly.com/index.html and they have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tara-Chevrestt-Sonia-Hightower/218383211513877.






1 comment:

  1. Your aunt sounds great, my aunt is also my heroine. Aunt Jeanette was the one (and still remains) who we count on, and look to for wisdom, guidance. She was always such a support for me, because when I was little, I was VERY SHY! I still am in one on one conversations(which is different from simply making an announcement).She helped me to venture outside my shell, and is STILL helping me! LOL that is also one of the reasons, why I am able to share on-line:O) Anyway thanks for sharing, your aunt sounds like a brave and inspiring woman!

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