Last week, a friend left a comment on my Facebook wall thanking me for raising a daughter who will never feel inadequate, and who is being taught that she is worthy. Naturally, it warmed my heart and made me feel extremely smug (my very favorite feeling in all the world). But then this week happened, and I was reminded of the uphill battle I face.
Once again, or news cycle has women being forced to face the notion that men simply don't have a lot of faith in us. Now, this isn't a commentary about abortion, but rather the things that people in our society say about women, and the messages that are being sent behind those statements. When Mr. Akin made the now-famous statement about "legitimate rape," what he was really saying was that women cannot be trusted to know or understand what our own experiences are. The underlying message was that women are just hysterical, and making mountains out of molehills. Women are crazy, right? We're guided exclusively by our emotions and aren't capable of having a rational thought in our pretty little heads. Unless we're ugly. Then we're allowed to be smart and logical. Gotta throw the ugly girls a bone, right?
Of course, our overwhelming hysteria is not the only thing that one little "misspoken" phrase pointed out. It also made clear that, on the off chance we're not just being melodramatic, we secretly enjoy having a man overpower us and force something that is supposed to be intimate upon us. Because, ya know, we're also all vixens who cannot be resisted by the poor, unsuspecting male population. They can't be held responsible for their actions!
Now, I know a LOT of really amazing men. I'm not hear to bash the opposite gender. After all, women perpetuate some of these insidious ideas as well. It's our society as a whole that needs to recognize how invalid these sweeping generalizations are, and, more importantly, how dangerous they are. Women need to speak up and out. Women need to believe their own minds, and stand firm when they are challenged. Women need to exercise their right to vote- a right that women before us literally died for. Women need to acknowledge when they overreact, but understand that doesn't mean they were wrong.
How am I supposed to raise my daughter in this society? Everywhere she is going to be inundated with a distorted view of reality, from the unnatural "beauty" of photoshop, to the male-dominated Congress. Every day she is reminded of her physical beauty when I brush her hair, and when she smiles that vibrant smile at me. Every day she is reminded of her intelligence when she counts, or figures out puzzles, or works the iPad better than I do. Every day she is reminded of her responsibility too her family and community when she puts her toys away. Every day I am reminded of her kind heart when she hugs me, or her stuffed animals, and tells us she loves us.
But is it enough? Her father and I are just two people. We cannot shelter her from the ugliness of the world forever. Will she be prepared? Am I equipping her properly?
I pray that I am.