Some thoughts on raising a girl

I read this post on Design Mom about the #yesallwomen discussion the other day and it really struck a chord with me. It’s about all the uncomfortable experiences, big and little, we have as women that we tend to brush off as “just the way it is.” But if you really think about it, these things can’t be OK with us.

In my life I can’t say I’ve experienced much blatant sexism, as in “you can’t do X because you’re female,” and thank goodness for that. But there have been many, many other small things (paper cuts, as someone called them) that add up over a lifetime to a feeling of being vulnerable and less than. I remember at my first job at a fast-food restaurant there was another guy who worked there who would stand in the doorway so I had to touch him in order to get by. And one of the managers used to punch me on the arm. I know it was in a joking way, but like, why was it OK for him to touch a 16-year-old girl he barely knew? I don’t know how many times I’ve been cat-called while running, ugh. And I remember reading “Wild” and thinking how sad it was that a woman couldn’t do a spectacular hike like that without fear of being assaulted.

There are so many ways in which our culture still needs to change to be more fair to women, and it feels so much more important now that I have a daughter. I really don’t want her to have all the same struggles when she grows up, but I fear she will. (Don’t even get me started on the division of color in the toy aisle…) On the other hand, I sense a change that I’ve never quite felt before, and it gives me hope.

All the discussions “Lean In” brought up about women in leadership roles, all the commercials that have been going viral that address the way we urge girls away from math and science, all the brave women on college campuses speaking up about rapes going unpunished — those are all conversations that are so key to our girls having a better experience.

I think the one thing that desperately needs to change is asking, or demanding, more from men. I’ve often thought the conversation about rape has to stop focusing on women and become much more about the men who commit rapes. Who are all these seemingly normal men who think it’s an acceptable thing to do? And why? And why aren’t we upset about THAT?

So I guess what I’m saying is that I’m glad we’re finally waking up and realizing the ways the feminist movement is far from over. And I think as moms we have to be honest about our struggles so our kids can learn what is and isn’t OK. Harper is such an adventurous little girl, and I just hope we can raise her without putting up any barriers to her success. I hope that someday when I tell her she can be anything she wants to be when she grows up that it’s really true.