Today, when I was driving in to work, I caught the end of NPR’s Forum program on Marissa Mayer and The Work-Life Debate. It dovetailed nicely with my recent thoughts on going back to work versus my brief stint as a stay-at-home mom and my new curiosity in this thing called feminism – which I’ll admit I never gave a thought to before I started blogging.
When I got into work, after reading a blog post directed towards me that sounded straight out of a silly high school episode of Mean Girls, I realized that what I say and do as a role model will greatly impact how my daughter carries herself in the great big world, as well as how she is perceived and treated. And it will determine whether she grows up to be a “woman,” with all the negative stereotypical trappings and obstacles, or her own person.
Which brings me back to this idea of feminism. I still am not sure exactly what it means, as I’ve seen many a self-proclaimed feminist trampling on her own kind or harming herself in a way that opposes everything she stands for. Regardless, today’s experience has strengthened my conviction not to raise a daughter who conducts herself according to her socially-prescribed gender role.
She will know how important it is to:
- Know who you are and what you stand for. And never waver.
- Be heard. If they don’t hear you the first time, tell them again.
- Live authentically. Honesty and integrity are uncomfortable, but fundamental to life.
- Respect yourself. If you don’t, no one else will.
- Know that no one owns you. Cherish your freedom and don’t give any piece of you away.
- Be confident in your talent, wisdom, and abilities. You are strong.
- Be kind to yourself. You control your happiness, but you have the power to destroy it, too.
- Know that you are the only person who will always look out for you. You know what’s best; trust your instincts.
- Know that knowledge is power. Wealth and beauty can disappear, but knowledge is a tool with you forever.
- Take the high road. Even if no one follows you.
If she knows these things, at least she will have the tools to become a kind, strong, capable human being – whether she’s in Girl World or the Animal World (the only two choices we get from Lindsey Lohan’s character, Cady Heron, in the movie Mean Girls) – and hopefully, in the Real World.
*Luckily these things are all equally applicable to my son, so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel for him.