I have two daughters. Right now, they are the sweetest, most loving little things, who melt my heart with a smile or when they tell me I'm pretty (like K did this morning.) I dread the days that are absolutely coming, when puberty hits and I am no longer the queen in their eyes, but the enemy, the one who "just doesn't understand," the one who is crushing their dreams and spirit by the simple act of saying "no" to something they "really, really" want. I dread those days.
At the same time, I question the state of the world that I am introducing them to. Have we, as a society, come far enough to accept them as equals despite their female status? Is the world ready to allow them access to all of the opportunities and avenues that I want open for them?
This subject came to mind this morning, after reading an article posted on Facebook about the 4 newest admittees to the NASA astronaut program. NASA only selected 8 into the newest class. Of those 8, 4 ARE WOMEN. Yes, you read that correctly, 50% of the latest class selected are women. They were selected out of 6300 candidates. They were NOT selected based on their gender, but rather based on their abilities. Several are accomplished pilots, several are certified scuba divers and all have advanced academic degrees. In a society where we make up half the population, shouldn't we be taking half of the jobs or opportunities? Such is typically not the case.
As my girls get older, I want them to get more from me than my love of reading or my ability to wrap a gift and square the corners and tie nice ribbon. I want them to get more than height or blond hair (for B) or blue eyes (for both.) I want them to understand that they can do whatever they set their mind to.
I got a few things from my mom and other women in my family - I can bake and cook and I was taught to sew as a kid. I inherited a creative gene from several sides of the family. I was also never limited in my dreaming of what I would become and I was never told that I could not do something because I was a girl. I was introduced to my grandfather's wood shop at a young age and could throw around a bale of hay just as well as the boys. My mom had a similar experience - she was taught to change a tire on the car, and check and change the oil before my grandfather would hand her the keys, something most kids (boys or girls) would be clueless to do today. Perhaps it was because my dad really wanted boys, or maybe it was by design, but gender lines were not drawn in my childhood.
I want that for my girls. I hope that the society they grow into accepts them for their brains and abilities, for their creativity and charm before they are cataloged based on their gender or their looks. I want their accomplishments to speak for themselves before they are pigeonholed by their sex. I hope.
This society will not be created overnight, and it will take more work. Work that has begun already and is being carried out by these 4 women, recently chosen by NASA, and others in other professions like them, blazing the trail for the little girls who watch from the wings. Once upon a time, women were told that they could not be lawyers or judges and now we can. Many women in my profession still get penalized for wanting to be wives and mothers as well as attorneys, getting passed over for partnership track or losing choice assignments, but we soldier on.
Our girls will grow into the society that we give them. And while we are working on world peace and cleaner drinking water and maintaining green spaces to play in, let's work on gender equality - heck, let's work on taking gender out of the equation and focus on equality. Let's give them a society that will encourage those dreams and help them believe that they can be anything they want to be, even if no woman has ever done it before. Brooklyn for President, anyone?