You Go, Girl!

Is Spring a good time to talk about equal rights for girls? One can argue it is always a good time to talk about equal rights. But spring is hopeful, energetic and fresh in a ‘new beginnings’ sort of way.

“The standard of courage and intellect and kindness and heart.”

– Gloria Steinem, on Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Our accomplished middle daughter will graduate from our small homeschool this June, and I think about whether or not we have covered all the essential learning, beyond academics. We have raised a bright, energetic, loyal, self-discerning critical thinker who writes well, speaks two languages, and understands hard math. Isn’t that enough?

For young women in the 21st century, it isn’t. There are certain truths we, as parents, should discuss with our girls; conversations unique to our daughters. Self-advocation in the workplace, gender pay gap, fairness in athletics, leadership, economics, and human (women’s) rights come to mind.

19th century Sarah and Angelina Grimke were American abolitionists, widely held to be the mothers of the women’s suffrage movement. In 1837 Sarah famously said, “I ask no favor for my gender. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” The Grimke sisters were born and raised on a wealthy plantation in South Carolina and were outspoken about both the brutality of slavery and unfairness to women. Simply stated, we must be kind to each other. And our girls deserve the same opportunities as our boys.

I wonder of this family who raised their self-educated 1800-era daughters to take notice, speak out and challenge the status quo when necessary, no matter how unpopular.

After reading a modern essay in class this spring titled “Why I Want a Wife” by Judy Brady, Sophia and I shared many conversations about women’s rights and ideologies concerning gender equality in our communities.

“I want to be a husband when I go to work. I want to have the freedom and respect from my peers in the office and for people to assume I am knowledgeable about the things I say. I want to speak truthfully and uninterrupted, and with such authority that I know all of my co-workers are listening. I want to be recognized for promotions at the same rate my male counterparts are, and I want to be taken seriously in those positions. I want my male employers, bosses, and peers to see my mind, not my body.”

– excerpted from “Why I Want to Be a Husband” by Sophia Rey

In 2013 Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, “It’s a sadness to me that in some places the word “feminism” is considered the “F-word.” All it means is you think that women should have the same opportunities, that boys and girls should have the same opportunities to use their God-given talent to be whatever they want to and have the ability to be.”

Women certainly have more options now, but there are still disparities and slights that continue to gnaw at us. Did you know, according to the National Organization of Women, the average woman spends around $18,000 in her lifetime on period products? Imagine the savings if we were male.

Ginsburg, years later, said, “Growing up, I never saw a woman in a symphony orchestra. Someone came up with the bright idea, let’s drop a curtain between the people who are auditioning and the judges. It worked like magic. Almost overnight, women were making their way into symphony orchestras. Now, I wish we could duplicate the dropped curtain in every area, but it isn’t that easy.”

“I want to be a husband in public. I want the waitress to hand me the bill without a second thought about who is paying. I want to walk alone in the streets at night and not flinch at sudden noises.”

– excerpted from “Why I Want to Be a Husband” by Sophia Rey

We want our daughters to enjoy a carefree and quality life with freedom and respect from their peers and always be recognized for their value. In our family, we take each of our children’s intellect, abilities, strengths, and talents seriously. We expect, hope, (demand!) that as we graduate our son and daughter from our home and school, they continue to be encouraged and appreciated for who they are, regardless of gender or any other discrimination.

“If I had any talent God could give me, I would be a great diva. But sad for me, I am a monotone. So I sing in only two places: one is the shower, and the other is in my dreams.”

– Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Wye Fellows Discussion, May 24, 2017

As she heads off to college in the fall, I dream of an equal, unlimited, and fulfilling life for Sophia. I want her to want what she wants and to live in communities that support her. I will sing this song as long as I have children in this world.

When 5’2″ Emma “Grandma” Gatewood was asked in 1955 why she hiked the Appalachian Trail alone, “she answered something beautiful and independent, mysterious and brave. She replied boldly, ending with a period that might as well be a question mark, four words that launch a thousand ships, and it’s an answer that frustrates and satisfies.”1

“Because I wanted to.”

Dearest Sophia, in regards to whatever you want to achieve in your life, we support you. You go, girl.

Congratulations to the first graduate from our Rey family, Newport, RI home and travel school

  1. excerpted from Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail, by Ben Montgomery

Why I Want a Wife” by Judy Brady; Advanced Composition (Bravewriter)

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