I have two daughters. Two little girls. And you know what I recently realized? That one day, assuming there is no shift in gender identity, they will grow into women.
I know, you’re probably asking “What did you think they would grow into? Monsters?” No, no, I didn’t think that. And only partially because they don’t need to do any growing to become monsters, they already are.
Yes, I always knew that they would be women one day. But what really hit me is that they will be women in this world. A world that values women below men. A world where women are not viewed as equal or capable or worthy of the same pay as men for doing the same job. And it broke my heart.
When I first heard the word “feminism” as a kid, it was attached to all of the stereotypes that have been floating around for years. Bra-burning, hairy-legged man haters. This is not to say that this is what my parents or teachers or other family members believed, it was just the stigma that had always followed the term. To be honest, we never really talked about feminism or women’s rights in my house. So I had very little basis to form an opinion of my own. It wasn’t until college when I actually started to understand the reality of the feminist movement. How the world had already evolved, how it was continuing to evolve. The number of women in the world who were sticking their necks out to make life better for all women.
Of course things are better than they used to be. Better than they were even ten years ago when I first became aware of the feminist movement. But they’re still not good enough. And they won’t be until hate and condescention and inequality are no longer part of the equation.
But I look at my girls and to think of them working themselves to the bone in school or college or at their jobs and not being compensated adequately, in the same way as a male for the same work and effort, downright disgusts me. This is not the world I want for them. Being born with two X chromosomes and a vagina shouldn’t mean that you drew the short stick right out of the gate.
Oh, and let’s talk about the social treatment of women. The sexual harassment, the cat calling, the rape culture. Women are not weak. Women are not objects to be judged and compared. Women are more than breasts and curves and physicality. I shouldn’t have to worry about my daughters being called awful names or attacked when they’re walking down the street simply because they are women. But I do.
Being a woman can be a pretty wonderful thing and I am teaching my girls to embrace that. To be proud of who they are and to not let preconceptions and stereotypes break their spirit. But when they get out into the real world, they won’t be able to ignore the fact that those preconceptions and stereotypes are the way of society, of the job industry. Stomping our feet and screaming “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR!” isn’t going to change anything. We are the change. I am raising daughters and a son who will be the change. Daughters who won’t tolerate second best and a son who will respect women for their brains rather than their bodies. Children who will teach others that the current treatment of women is unacceptable.
I feel like a lot of what I’ve just written is common sense. Or at least that it should be. So maybe I just reiterated the thoughts of every woman out there. But it still needs to be said. Shouted from the rooftops, even. Until things change for the better.
They’ve grown so much already. They’ll be women before we know it.