Dear daughter of mine,
You are so young and precious and innocent. You pass your days amidst sippy cups and Cheerios; amidst Minnie Mouse and your beloved dolls and toy kitchen.
But someday—sooner than I’d like—you’re going to grow up. And you’re probably going to hear a lot about something that’s happening right now.
You’ll learn about the unprecedented election of President Donald Trump, and you’ll learn about the thousands and thousands of women who came out to march all over the country in protest.
They were very loud. Some screamed; others gave speeches. Many carried big signs; others locked arms together. Some even wore “funny” outfits.
What were they upset about? I’ll tell you, sweet one.
They’re mad because we women don’t make as much money as men. They’re mad because we women don’t have full rights over our bodies. They’re mad because we women have to pay extra taxes for things that Mommy will tell you about later, while men don’t pay taxes for other things Mommy will tell you about later. They’re mad because men are abusive to us women; because men harass us. They’re mad because people don’t care about our smarts. They’re mad because we don’t all get paid maternity leave.
They’re mad because you and I, dear daughter of mine, are second class citizens.
And you might wonder why Mommy didn’t go and march for you. You might wonder why there are no Facebook pictures of us two out there together, like so many of your future counterparts’ mommies posted.
That’s why I’m writing you this letter.
Baby bird, I didn’t march for you because I didn’t need to. I didn’t march for you because you were blessed enough to have been born into a country and an era where you already enjoy all the freedoms and rights (that yes, other guys and gals fought for years ago) that men do; you live in a country where you can vote; in a country where you can fly to outer space, run major companies, run for president, and even run the first successful female-led presidential campaign in history; in a country where you can live a full life as a mom and a professional—or whatever you choose.
I’m writing this letter to tell you that what some people are yelling very loudly today (and will continue to yell very loudly for years to come) are lies.
Terrible, horrible, no good very bad lies.
It’s a lie that because of sexism, women don’t make as much money as men. First, let Mommy explain what “wage discrimination” is. It’s when a fully capable, trained and talented woman makes less than her fully capable, trained and talented male coworker in the EXACT same position under the EXACT same conditions. But that is demonstrably NOT what’s happening in this country. What’s happening? Well, for starters, women tend to choose careers that don’t pay as much, which affects the median income everyone’s talking about. Women also choose (and that’s an important word, honey) to do things like take a few years off of work to stay at home with their kids, and so when they go back to their jobs—their counterparts probably got a few raises in the meantime. Men also tend to work longer hours and are more likely to push for a raise.
It’s a lie that because of sexism, we don’t have full rights over our bodies. You are technically (we’ll chat about what you’re allowed to do later) able to do whatever you please with your body. No one’s stopping you, or any other woman. But these ladies think that being a woman gives us gals the right to decide what happens to other people’s bodies—bodies that are biologically, genetically, and scientifically separate bodies even though they’re growing inside of us when we’re pregnant.
It’s a lie because of sexism, women have to pay a special tax for products that we biologically must use. There is no special, bespoke tax for these products. On a state by state basis, they’re lumped in with a ton of other products that the government taxes. And it’s certainly not because they’re for girls. It’s also a lie, honey, that because of sexism, men pay no taxes for things that they use exclusively.
It’s a lie that because of sexism, we women are the only ones who have to worry about harassment and abuse. Yes, some women do get harassed. (Someday I’ll tell you about how Mommy walked to work every day in Mexico to cat-calls of “ayyyyy güerita.”) Yes, some women do get abused. But so do men. You don’t know this yet, but today boys make up half of those who are sexually exploited commercially in the United States. You don’t know this yet, but today, “a man is the victim of domestic abuse every 37.8 seconds in America.” You don’t know this yet, but today, “in the 71 percent of nonreciprocal [meaning, where violence is inflicted by only one side] partner violence instances, the instigator was the woman.”
It’s a lie that because of sexism, people don’t care about our smarts. In fact, for the past 50 years, women have led the pack in education. Today, “women today get the majority of college degrees in America. It doesn’t matter what kind — associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral — women beat men in all the categories.” Pretty impressive in a society that “doesn’t care” about their smarts, if you ask me.
It’s a lie that because of sexism, there aren’t more female leaders. Yes, there was a time when women were soley relegated to the roles of homemaker or secretary or assistant, but that’s just not the case today. Just ask Meg Whitman (CEO of Hewlett-Packard), or Susan Wojcicki (CEO of YouTube), or Ginni Rometty (CEO of IBM), to name a few. Remember what Mommy told you about women choosing other careers? That’s part of it. Not all women are choosing careers that lead to leadership. Want to be a leader? Pick that path. No one’s stopping you.
It’s a lie that because of sexism, we don’t all get paid maternity leave. It’s simple economics, honey. Maternity leave is expensive. Believe me, I know—I paid for part of mine when I had you. It has nothing to do with suppressing women. But that cost has to go somewhere—which is why not every company can offer it. (And it shouldn’t necessarily be the taxpayer’s responsibility to pay for it, either.) There are things you can do, though. Like working hard and landing a job at companies like Netflix or Amazon or Spotify, which have privately decided to give their employees well over the paid average.
Finally, it’s a lie that any of our human rights as women are going away just because someone whose politics these ladies don’t agree with suddenly became president.
No honey, I didn’t march for you. Let me tell you what I WILL do for you.
I’ll teach you money isn’t everything. But I’ll also teach you that if it’s important to you to make a lot of money, that you’ll need to work hard and choose the right career.
I’ll teach you about amazing women like Marie Curie or Madame C.J. Walker and the incredible lives they led—and I’ll also teach you about bad women, like Margaret Sanger, who told women the lie that they can kill their own babies, and who believed that not all races are equal.
I’ll teach you to respect your body. It’s a beautiful creation—and I’ll teach you not to cheapen it by dressing like it means nothing.
I’ll teach you that vulgarity doesn’t make you stronger; it cheapens you.
I’ll teach you that raunchiness doesn’t make you impressive; it makes you look like a piece of meat.
I’ll teach you that we are biologically and physically and emotionally different from men, but that doesn’t mean we’re less. It means we’re special. And you should celebrate that.
I’ll teach you that you should always be kind and honorable—even though there are people (even our leaders) who might not always say the nicest things.
I’ll teach you how to disagree strongly and firmly—but honorably.
Most of all, I’ll teach you to be a woman of noble character, like the one in like Proverbs 31—an amazing, hardworking wife, mother and businesswoman who rejoices in all of her roles.
No honey, I didn’t march for you. But thank goodness, I don’t have to.
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show (TheBlaze Radio Network, M-F, 3-5. ET). She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree