Monday, May 16, 2016

I don't want to be a Princess I want to be a President

I don’t want to be a Princess, I want to be President.

When I found out I was pregnant with my fifth child, I was convinced I'd seen it all, more so when the doctors told me the baby would be my fourth daughter. I was positive I knew everything and thus was 100% prepared for her arrival. I'm thinking now, that I'd been very naïve. From the moment Lucy had been born, she taught me thing  that would change the way I perceived girls, gender, and preferences.

I had spent time before Lucy was born and while she was a baby picking out dresses, planning hairstyles--she had hair that could win a beauty pageant. Just seeing her gave me so much joy. But this baby's personality shone through almost immediately, she was so restless and expressive. At eight months she'd climb out of her playpen within seconds! Lucy preferred to walk everywhere instead of riding in the pink stroller. She'd pick her own clothes as  a toddler, only wearing a few dresses or skirts that she deemed as the exception. At four she found a collared shirt with a tie and wore it all the time! Ever since she learned how to ask for gifts she's been all about monster trucks, cars, or airplanes. And we got them for her. Do you know why? Because we respect her choices and her personality. But this isn't the case for all families. I know of families that try to change, suppress and even punish children like Lucy who deviate from social norms.

I don’t want to be a princess, I want to be President.

Once when Lucy was about four we were walking in the mall and I suggested that she should wear a princess dress for Halloween, she replied "If you like the princess costume so much, you should wear it," and that's been ingrained in my mind ever since. She was so sure of her own preferences why was it so difficult for me to understand? The same thing happens with other parents, who can’t understand these kids with open minds and other perspectives. The world isn't divided by princesses and princes, or blue and pink. There's a whole spectrum of colors in the rainbow--it's all beautiful, why shouldn't we appreciate it?

We are teaching our children fit in molds that only fit some.

I always loved arts and handcrafting. When I was in high school I would have loved to transfer into a technical school where I could study architecture, or engineering and I never did it. While the technical school was co-ed an overwhelming majority of the students were boys; I didn't want feel isolated in a place I wanted to be in. Not to put down my past self or my parents but maybe if they encouraged my dreams I would have been able to transfer without any drama.  I don’t want this for my own children, not my daughters or my son. They are free to follow their dreams, to experiment, I don’t want them to be limited by the labels our society places on them. Furthermore it tires me to constantly watch girls be portrayed as the passive figures, the beauties, and the discreet, like princesses. There' so much lost potential in our society that forces us all backwards, we are missing women in important institutions like the government where we as a people need to be equally represented, in the high levels of corporate leadership, in hospital direction, and in many other places need and lack a woman's point of view. A woman's story is often treated as something to be consumed rather than a thoughtful narrative. Our society had more than enough beauty pageants, and conventionally beautiful women on the covers of magazines--so we treat it as odd for a woman to be reported on for anything other than her aesthetics. If we had more women in the government, how different would our society be? Women currently make up only 20% of the US Senate. Let's not even get into ethnic diversity within those few.

It's been proven that in societies where women are given equal opportunity and encouragement in education the community changes for the better. The impact of women's education or their job market changes everything. Women know  what their families need from backing their communities from home. They know what could be improved on a domestic level for health, education, accessibility, recreation among other necessities. Thanks to social assistance and a safer world, we can go out to work  and better the opportunities for our children as they inherit them in time.

Once I saw a shirt that read

"I don’t want to be a princess, I want to be President"

And that's been stuck in my mind ever since I saw it. I wonder what it would have been like, to see something like that as a child, to have questioned my place in the ordinary school. Maybe if that was already a normal thing in my youth I'd been able to transfer to that technical high school without any issues, it could just be something normal. I am a woman and that's why I earn less than a man doing the same work I do, even men decide on my rights to reproductive health and even go as far as to decide what form of contraception is best for me. My income dictates what I am able to provide for my family and the education for my children, which then in turn effects their financial future. If society continues to go on this way, it’s not men's fault that women remain passive and expect them to make decisions with us mind. We have to take action to help ourselves.

If in my youth I had seen princesses but with the clarification that: she plays like a princess but she doesn't have to wait for her prince to start her life. Or to have seen that a girl doesn't have to be kissed to wake up and go about her day  or even a message that says a girl doesn't have to clean just because she is a girl. Every day I think of all my kids going to college one day (I'm not sure how, but they will go to college), and how it depends on them to look out for themselves and search for opportunities, see what's best for them and for their loved ones. For instance, the right to vote gives them a chance to make a difference in the community and see other's point of view.

An so I told Lucy "You're right my love, you don’t have to wear the princess costume, you're much more than that".

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