What should we tell our daughters? Our daughters who are the next generation, who walk beside us every day, looking for guidance, who, despite all the battles that have fought and won, are still growing up in a world where they are still being persecuted every day because of something arbitrary assigned to them at birth. What should we tell these women in the making who are watching our every move while we sit on the precipice of total female genocide?
Do we want to teach them the importance of using their voices to stand up for themselves, or how to walk into a business meeting with confidence even though more than likely they will be in the minority? Or do we want to tell them about how they might not have access to birth control in the future, or have to go into an alley to have abortions because some men in a nice suit who don’t have vaginas and uteruses have decided that they know better than all the women who currently struggle with trying to take charge of when they are ready to have children? Should we tell our daughters about the terrible treatment women get in different parts of the world, the slavery and the mutilation, or the sex crimes perpetuated against them every day for simply wearing what makes them feel empowered? How should we even begin to explain to them that society says that they must be sexy and virginal at the same time, and strive to have a family and raise children as soon as possible?
The better question is why should we have to tell them any of that? How sad is it that this is what our society has become that we have to warn the future generation of women about walking down the street in broad daylight being afraid for their safety because of something they chose to wear something that makes them feel beautiful or that we have to teach our girls to have strong voices because one day they might have to scream to be heard in a board room? Why should we have to be the bearers of bad news and hand the weight of the world over to the daughters of tomorrow when today we’re still fighting for a more equal voice? Why should we have to teach them that they can be anything they want to be, when rigid gender and societal norms are telling them the exact opposite?
What we should be able to tell them is much simpler than that.
We should tell our daughters how love and family are simple, when you take the time to find the right person and not rush into it just because everyone else is telling you that you need someone to settle you down. We should tell them how it’s okay if they don’t know exactly what they want from love, sex or relationships; they don’t have to know right away. They shouldn’t have to force something just because they feel that they should follow someone else’s rules. It’s more than ok if they need to spend some time with themselves in order to figure out who they are and what they want before they figure out who they will be with. Spending time figuring out what they want from life is just as, if not more, important as finding someone to share it with.
We should be able to sit our little girls down and tell them that the only expectations that they should be following are the ones that they have for themselves, and that only they can decide what they really want. No one else can look at them and say what’s best for them, and the walls that people put up are only there until someone tears them down. No one else can tell them how they should look or sound or act to be accepted in society because they should develop their own uniqueness and beauty and personality. We should teach our girls that their dreams are only limited by human possibility and there’s no reason that they can’t achieve any goal that they have if they work for it hard enough. The world is open to them, open to them for anything.
Our daughters should know that all strong women need to ask for help every once in awhile, and that there is no shame in it. In fact, it’s just another facet of their strength, to be able to recognize when they need someone else to help them. Strong women are able to lean on other strong women, and use their strength to lift them both up.
What we should really tell our daughters is that they are people. They are people who happen to be women. And they should be forever proud of that.