Monday, April 16, 2012

40 To 40 Day 28: On Having Daughters

Confirmation Bias was really kicking me in the butt today, which told me it was time to write about this. Anyone who has even been watching 5 minutes of news lately knows that there is quite the anti-women movement going on. And yes, it's anti-women. If you are going to pass laws that take away choices for anyone, you are against that race/gender/sexual orientation. You take away power over their lives.

I link to Debbie a lot, because she has a lot to say. She also doesn't give a shit what anyone thinks. I wish I were that brave. Many tell me I'm opinionated, and that is surely true, but I always worry about what others reading will think. I need to work on that. I tend to be sensitive about other people's feelings, and sometimes I take it too far when I don't have to worry so much. Debbie writes a lot of great things that have made me feel stronger and braver speaking up about, because frankly I agree. I get tired of hearing others mouth off with their own opinions all the time as if it's the only way to live and they are better than YOU because of it. It's not the only way, and no, you are not better than anyone else.

Another friend, Mur, who isn't just a great writer but a great person also wrote about the anti-women movement happening lately, and how it's always been there. She nailed it in the very first sentence. And it's all true, every single word. We are seen as less, treated as less. No this does not mean that everyone (read: every man) sees women this way. You need a big brush to paint this picture, and you can't cherry pick your information. You have to really look at the world and look at history to see the truth. Even the poorest white man didn't have to fight for his right to vote.

I spent almost 17 years in a household where I was treated as less. Where I was raised to think that if I couldn't make it with the one talent I had, I would be a failure at life. I believed it. I saw my mom and my sister treated as less. Our lives were dictated to us. When I met the man who would ultimately start the snowball that started my new life, I didn't realize at the time that he was also holding me down, keeping me from my independence. This wasn't necessarily because he was a bad man. He wasn't. He was just much older than me, and when you're at a different place in your life you want and expect different things.

Once I did get married, it was with someone who was in the same boat as me. Meaning, we didn't really know what the hell we were doing, we just knew it would be the two of us doing it together. But I could still make the choices I wanted to within the marriage. Sure, we struggled with gender roles, but at least we were able to discuss it together, and work it out together.

Now here I am and thanks to the extra X's, I have two daughters. Well, that's just great. Obviously they are not going to have the same upbringing that I did. However, I constantly worry that I'm going to behave in a less-than-independent fashion that they will tap into. I still deal with a lack of confidence in my life, and a lack of worth (hey look another topic to cover!). I never EVER want them to feel that way because of me. They will have enough problems just growing up as females in Arizona, they don't need their mother's insecurities seeping into their psyche. So I try and give them as many opportunities as I can for them to build their confidence and learn about themselves. So far this seems to be happening with the older one more, but she also has a lot of Bret's personality in her. He's got the confidence and drive to push himself, and it shows in Allison. The girl took a plane by herself up the west coast to Alaska last summer and spent two weeks hiking with her Uncle and Grandmother. Hiking equals that plus kayaking and glacier-climbing. Every sport she takes on she seems to master. On top of this she still makes all A's and B's. In a prep school.

Sam is a lot more like me. She sticks close to home, dips her toes in the water but most times doesn't want to jump in. I encourage what I can, and I'm hoping next year when she is at a school with more opportunity she might find a little more confidence in herself. I'm also hoping as I've been working on my confidence lately that perhaps that will seep into her psyche instead of my fears. Still, I can't help but worry as I see how much more passive Sam is.

One thing I know for sure, I will never deny them an opportunity simply because I'm afraid of it myself. They are not me, and they deserve to try anything they want. Succeed or fail in anything they want. Now, affordability is another story...

The other thing I know for sure is I will do my best to educate them enough, to make sure they are empowered enough that the last thing they want to do is settle down in Arizona. Unless the politics here takes a complete 180 turn, I'd never recommend Arizona to anyone as a place to live, if someone was lucky enough to have a choice in where they live.

I hope you'll take the time to read the links here- I also had them on Facebook. My friends know what they are talking about, and I love them for their outspokenness. One more thing I hope you'll check out when you have time- this Ted Talk by Melinda Gates, speaking about the dire need to have birth control be back ON the agenda as a family planning choice, with a world view that is sure to make you think. It's about 25 minutes but very engaging and informative.

Encourage your daughters, encourage your female friends and family members. Stand behind them and support them, because there will be more than enough holding them down in their lives.

No comments: