I had two boys and then a girl. When I found out we’d have a girl I didn’t believe it, and when presented with genetic testing that proved it, I worried.
I haven’t had a particularly difficult life as a woman, but there have been times I’ve wondered how my situation would be different had I been a man. The fear of walking home alone from work in Washington, DC and being shouted at by people on the street. The time my doctor suggested I might just be sad my party was over after my honeymoon instead of accurately diagnosing me with an incurable disease. Microaggressions exist against women nearly every day and they build up over time. I haven’t been passed over for a promotion because of my gender because I’m a stay at home mom, and yes I can vote and speak freely, but life as a woman is different than life as a man.
Of course there are drawbacks to being a man as well, like pressure to be muscly like a Hemsworth and make more money than your spouse. And minorities have layers upon layers of aggressions, not all of them micro, to contend with. But I still worried about having a daughter.
We’ll raise her to be confident and treat her the same as her brothers so she knows she’s equal to any male counterpart. We’ll teach her to raise up and support other women for the greater good of our community. We’ll give her an education and let her pursue hobbies that interest her. But someday, no matter what we do to prepare her, some asshole will shout at her on the street. Some creep in a bar will put his hand on her low back as he moves past her. A boss will call her “sweetie” and then tell her she can’t get a raise. A doctor will ignore her symptoms and suggest she just cheer up.
This stuff isn’t the worst that can happen, but it’s all I can manage to predict when it comes to my sweet three year old girl. She’s so tender and caring but also cries the least when she’s bleeding or gets a shot. She walks up to everyone in the house, tells us we’re her best friends, and wraps her arms around us. To be fair, she hasn’t seen anyone but us in a year, but it’s still very sweet that she thinks of us as her friends and not just her family. Surely someday she’s be a moody and wretched teen and will make another girl at school cry, but for now her spirit is pure light and we are soaking it up while it lasts.
It’s not just terrible men that take advantage of girls, but girls are treacherous to each other, too. I hope she loves herself and ignores anyone who tells her she should be self conscious. I hope she feels good in her skin and keeps dressing herself in all her favorite colors and patterns no matter if they match. I hope she takes a chance on herself and proves everyone wrong. She’ll be our brave girl with the stitches in her lip in pink rainboots and a pink tulle dress until we’re long gone.
I know she is brave. I know she is strong. But I hope the world doesn’t make her prove it.