I’m raising a son and two daughters. My girls are growing up in a time when there is a renewed societal focus on women’s rights – more so than there has been in a long time. The #metoo movement is putting a spotlight on sexual harassment and assault. For the most part, acceptance of gender equality continues to spread, and important conversations are being held about wage gaps, household work inequality and reproductive rights.
But, I’m also raising my daughters in an era of social media. Bullying, criticism, and downright cruelty are part of the norm, as hatred is able to hide its face behind a computer screen.
I’m raising my girls during a time that we have actually elected, as our president, a man who was taped talking about how he touched women inappropriately without their consent. I’m raising them during a time that a Supreme Court judge who allegedly sexually assaulted a woman is now sitting on the bench. And my girls are old enough and smart enough to take this all in. What does it say to them about their value in society? Of the worth that is placed on their precious – at least to me – heads?
I hear a lot of talk about women’s empowerment. Empowerment is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as 1: to give official authority or legal power to 2: enable 3: to promote the self-actualization or influence of. Here is the problem that I have with all of that. I don’t want my girls to feel that 1: someone has to “give them official authority or legal power” 2: that they need to be “enabled” to find their own power or 3: that anyone needs to promote their “self-actualization or influence.”
If you could have seen either of my girls when they were babies, you would have known that no one needed to give authority or enable one tiny bit of power to either of them. They were power. They were strong and fierce. They both knew what they wanted from a young age and they went for it.
What I want for my girls is to stay self-empowered.
To not let society, or peers, their government or social media slowly drain them of their worth as human beings. To not let their femaleness become a weakness, a handicap, a thing to apologize for or move back in line because of. Because, let me tell you, these girls – their passion, their smarts, their love, their joy – they are what the world needs. They are what we all need.
So, I will tell them this. Don’t let anyone diminish your roar. Look for the weak, remind them of their strength, link your arm with theirs and bring them along with you. Identify those that build others up and make them your tribe. You will be stronger together. Notice those that seek to spread gossip or hate and cut them loose. Don’t look for anyone to give you your power, for it was never theirs to give you in the first place. And when the world knocks you down – because it will – get back up, dust yourself off and go at it again. For you ARE power.