On my second birthday, I sat in a booster seat with navy blue Nikes on my feet and a big, chocolatey train cake at my reach. Would you believe my baby, 24-month-old brain thought nothing of it? Two year old-me didn’t miss the frilly pink bows or the “Daddy’s Little Angel” onesies. She didn’t throw her food “like a girl” or aspire to own a Barbie doll any more than she aspired to own toy trains. Eighteen years later, I’m sitting in my college apartment talking politics and gender over the phone with my parents. My dad sends me a link to a video about comments a political candidate (cough-Trump-cough) has made in regards to women and it makes my skin crawl. I think about his supporters and where he lies in the political primaries and feel sorry that those people still believe women’s “place” is one that is second to men, and even further, one whose job is to please men.
As a twenty-year-old woman and a first time voter, here is what I know: Regardless of what my political views are, any candidate who dismisses my power and equality as a woman loses my vote. Of course I’m biased (it is politics we’re discussing), but I wish more people thought that way. I wish more people grew up with a dad who says to their daughter, “The first woman president is going to be so important” and “The way to break negative stereotypes [about women] is through contradictory experience.” Instead, it’s 2016 and people are paying respect to a figure that says, “It really doesn’t matter what they write as long as you have a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
Well guess what, Mr. Trump, (your-highness-sir). I think it does matter what I write. I do not think the words on this screen lose an ounce of value because of my gender. In fact, I was raised to see my gender as one that can be tough, strong, and as feminine as I want. Did I play with Barbies as a child? Absolutely. But believe it or not, my ten-year-old-self put words into Barbie’s mouth instead of prancing her around in her heels like a “piece of ass.”
How we gender children plays a big role in how they see themselves in regards to the world around them. We live in a society that fosters the view that women are fragile, weak, and objects that others can take “pieces” of. I once walked into a fitness class to have the (woman) instructor tell me first thing that her class could help me lose a size or two. And while I’m defying feminine stereotypes here, I’ll tell you as an American female that I do not need to lose a size. (I promise I wasn’t brain washed to say that). My point here is that my body, or any woman’s body shouldn’t be a topic of discussion for anyone’s free will, much less in a political background. The intellect of my gender should not still be questioned, and I should not have to work through images of pink bows and frilly clothes to prove how strong I am.
Regardless of your political affiliation, teach your daughters, roommates, spouses, friends and sisters to see themselves as more than objects and followers. Teach them to respect their own gender, to put on the navy blue Nikes, to put some words in Barbie’s mouth and focus more on what the pink bow is wrapped around than the “assets” beneath it.