Marie Wilson of The White House Project is wondering about the children who are watching the way we treat the women who dare stand up and lead.
It’s day three for Sonia Sotomayor (female Hispanic Supreme Court nominee) on the Capitol, and like many of us, I am dismayed by the politics and punditry surrounding the confirmation proceedings. Yet what troubles me most about the negative and sexist remarks is this: our children are watching.
The knowledge we are imparting to girls is this: you may work really hard and make it to the top of your class. You may get distinguished degrees from Princeton and Yale, have a successful career, and even be hand-picked by the President of the United States for the highest court in the land. Yet people on TV will call you “domineering” because you’re an outspoken woman. They will bring up your menstruation and call it “really bad” for the decisions you make. If you’re a woman of color, they may even joke about sending you vacuum cleaners to clean up after meetings. At the very least, you will be asked to cut off the parts of yourself that reflect your race or gender in exchange for a seat at the tables of power.
My husband and I took out daughter out of school one day last week and went to the court house to cast our votes. I’m an election judge this year so we voted early. (Early voting will also reduce complaining about the line.)
They will allow your child in the voting booth with you and you can show them how you go about choosing your candidates.
Ainsley and I have been going to vote together since she was two and we arrived at the government building and she said, “Where’s the boats? You said we were going boating.”
She’ll remember this year specifically because this year, we got to vote for Hillary Clinton. I also voted for her BFF’s mom, who was running for county attorney on my ballot (even though she wasn’t on my party’s ticket).
No matter who you’re voting for – take your daughter to the polls and show her one of the more effective ways for women to be powerful.
Democracy is what we make it through our participation. Teach her to participate.
I’m an election judge today – getting my Patriotic High – read more about it on Blog Fabulous.
As an advocate for girls let me make the following plea on behalf of your daughter:
Please, please, please speak respectfully of the one and only female candidate the Repubican Party has ever put on their ticket for Vice President of the United States – Sarah Palin.
What you say about Sarah Palin has the potential to translate to your daughters as your opinion of all women (including your daughter) seeking power.
Disrespectful criticism has the potential to translate, “I only respect other women if they agree with me.” Your daughter may one day disagree with you. This moment, and your reaction, won’t be forgotten by her.
Your example will also teach her how she should expect to be treated by those who disagree with her and how she should treat those who disagree with her.
In other words -
Mothers – don’t be a mean mommy and you won’t create a mean girl.
Fathers – don’t reduce her to whether you’d have sex with her and you won’t create a daughter who gets her self-worth from her sexuality or appearance.
I vividly remember asking my parents what the Equal Rights Amendment was as a child. I remember them telling me that it was a bill to make women equal to men. And they were voting against it.
Here’s how that translated to a six-year-old girl: “My parents are voting against ME! Why would they do that?”
I also remember criticism of Geraldine Ferraro that went something like, “We’ll never elect a woman president. God wants it that way.”
What you might say instead of “I Hate Sarah Palin” (or worse) might be, “I think a woman would make a wonderful Vice President, I just don’t agree with this particular woman’s political views on ________.”
It would be helpful, for your daughter, to avoid vague negative statements about Sarah’s suitability as a role model for girls. Instead you could say, “I think it’s wonderful that a female has gotten this far in American politics. It’s wonderful that women are becoming more powerful and ambitious in both parties. I just don’t agree with her views on ________.”
If you minimize and criticize the significance of Sarah Palin’s presence in this race, then you minimize and criticize your daughter’s potential.
It is my hope, as an advocate for girls, that they will never see another election in their lifetime where there is not a woman on either ticket.
Thanks to women’s adamant support of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin both Republicans and Democrats have included women this year. Our top politicians have finally realized they can’t win without addressing women and women’s issues.
For our daughters’ sakes, let’s pray the inclusion of women – on all political levels and in all political parties – becomes the norm.