My first child was a daughter, which is exactly what my wife wanted.
I had no expectations beforehand; I’m not a barrel-chested “I need a son!” kinda guy, so when the wee-woman popped out, I was happy.
When my Mrs. got pregnant a second time, she hoped for a son, for balance. She envisioned the idyllic American family: a child of each gender, plus our dog and cat.
During that entire second pregnancy, I joked that I wanted another daughter. I figured that after getting a couple years under my belt with the one, I understood better how to take care of a little girl than a little boy. I also worried about the stereotype surrounding little boys: they’re destructive, they potty train later, they’re noisier…
So, yeah. Girls rule.
When my son was born, I was again happy. But more and more, I’ve been… I don’t want to say relieved, but I’m not sure exactly how to phrase the emotions coursing through my system.
I often worry about my daughter. It is still, in 2017, so much easier to be a man than anything else.
I read horrible stories of universities who refuse to investigate sexual assaults, law enforcement agencies that refuses to acknowledge rape, high schools that protect athletes who commit atrocious acts against young girls, rapists who are given six month sentences because the judge went to the same college as the rapist, and I wonder how my daughter is going to make her way through this minefield of life.
As a nation, America raises a pointed finger at supposed “underdeveloped” third World Countries and trumpets loudly our superiority: “In other countries, women can be (and are) put to death at the whims of men!” “At least we don’t cover our women-head-to-toe!” “Women here can drive cars!”
With an air of condescension we shout, “Look at those savages!”
I do not deny that America has it above and beyond what many countries do, but are we really the superior nation when we subjugate women using legal means, not blunt force?
When the current term of Congress began their session, they had several quick proclamations:
1.) We’re going to shut down the independent ethics committee that oversees us.
2.) Bye-bye Obamacare!
3.) Defund Planned Parenthood.
So far, they’re powering ahead the best they can.
All those moves were expected; it’s not like the majority party has made any secrets of its desires, but it still frightens me that so many men are so insecure about their penis size they feel the need to control women.
Defunding Obamacare is one thing; that sends a general message: we don’t care about anyone.
Defunding Planned Parenthood sends a very pointed message; it’s an absolute middle finger to women. Which is sad, because even though the Supreme Court ruled “Corporations are people,” they didn’t feel women deserved that same distinction when discussing contraception and insurance.
To return to the previous thought of how we believe America is better than other countries, what it boils down to is: our book of fairy tales is better than their book of fairy tales.
When I allow myself to think about these things, I become angry, frustrated, and fearful.
I don’t know what to do with my daughter. Enroll her in martial arts classes so she can protect herself against predators? Automatically know at what age I have to discuss inappropriate pictures with her, and how pictures live on forever via the Internet? Warn her against predators at parties, and that some people look at being drunk as an excuse for the behavior of a man? Pray that by the time she enters the corporate world, women will be taken seriously and earn as much as their male counterparts? That whatever she wants to do with her life and career won’t be challenged by a desire to have a family, that she will be judged by her mind and not her looks…
…I don’t know what to say, and I don’t know how much of that will be true.
I do believe that life is about moving forward, even when obstacles are on the path in front of you. I know that my wife and I are going to do all we can to give our daughter the strength she needs to navigate the minefield that is being a woman. Many women before her have overcome greater obstacles by far and advanced the rights she has today. As I write, many women are fighting for the rights she will have tomorrow.
My hope is as she grows, women will gain more footholds than they lose.
Even if the next four years—or two, if people get off their ass and vote in 2018—are going to be one hell of a regression.
My hope is that today, as I sat and felt the need to get these shitty thoughts out of my head, that today was just a bad day.
Tomorrow—as the song goes—is a latter day.
(The skies are clearing and the sun’s coming out…)
Photo: Getty Images