My oldest daughter was part of a group of young women who started a feminist club at the high school. When she first told me I thought, hmmmm there are enough girls interested in this in the school? And then I thought, will it be approved? I mean a harry potter club is one thing but a feminist club is totally another. But it was approved and there are about 10 young women involved and they meet regularly to discuss topics of, well feminism.
Feminism: a noun meaning “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men”. As I interpret this, it is not that all women should hold positions of power and make a lot of money or open doors for themselves. It is that women should have all of the opportunities, all of the esteem, all of the benefits in life that men have. So for instance, my daughter was taking a health and wellness class and the teacher asked them what they wanted to do for a living after high school and/or college. My daughter answered that she wants to be a lawyer. The teacher responded by telling her that she really should think about some other careers because it’s very hard to raise a family with such a demanding job. She really said this. Out loud. And this is not the first time I’ve heard this. When I was in college, I wanted to be a lawyer and eventually go into politics. My parents’ response was that I should become an occupational therapist or physical therapist because I’d have a flexible schedule and could have kids and raise a family. They put enough doubt in me in that moment that I quickly put away my ambitions and went to OT school. Now I don’t regret going to OT school but I do regret letting someone tell me that because I’m a woman, I can have a job but I should have a job that still allows me to “raise a family”.
Let me be clear. There is nothing wrong with having a career that allows you to have hours that let you be home with your children. There’s nothing wrong at all with not having a career at all and devoting your time and energy to raising your family. If, and it’s a big if, IF that’s what you want. I want to know how many teachers or parents say to young men, you know you really should pick a career that allows you to be home more with your kids. I can bet none. I’ve never heard of anyone telling a boy or a young man that they shouldn’t pursue certain careers or dreams because it wouldn’t allow them the time to stay home with their family. The perception that a woman cannot pursue her dreams because traditionally it’s not “what’s done” is absurd, demeaning, and speaks volumes about the gender inequality that still plagues the world. And we see it now with the current climate around the election. When I dressed up as Hillary Clinton for Halloween last year, people said things to me like “I hate her so much, she’s such a Cunt” or “She’s a fucking bitch”. No really, people said those words out loud. They didn’t say things like I don’t agree with her policies or she’s not strong enough on certain issues I believe in or that she’s not qualified to do the job. They point blank tore her apart because she’s a woman who doesn’t live up to what their expectation of a woman is.
Thankfully things are shifting. When I watch Elizabeth Warren tear crooked executives to shreds and command respect of the room I want to stand up and cheer loudly at the television. When I see that a woman has the possibility of being elected to the highest office in the nation my heart swells. When I look at my daughter and see that she is involved in political and social activism I am prouder than proud. When I look at my other daughter who wants to work in the helping profession because she has a heart bigger than anyone I am equally as proud. Let’s keep the conversations going. The ceiling is shattered for women. And I for one am overjoyed I got to see it in my lifetime.