Today on this, Women’s Equality Day, the 95th anniversary of when women were given the right to vote in 1920, the following conversation happened.
I took Miss Sophie out for her evening constitutional, and the littles were riding their bikes up and down the street. Our Princess came over on her bike and stopped where I stood with Miss Sophie, allowing her to do all the sniffs and whatnots.
“Mama, how come some people will say, when someone is screaming, ‘You scream like a girl!’ I mean, why is it an insult to do something like us? I don’t get it.”
Oh my heart. The tone in her voice. She really doesn’t understand. Just like she didn’t understand when she read about the Ku Klux Klan the other day. It is breaking her heart, this broken world of ours. At age almost 11, she is struggling with all that does not fit in her world of happiness, fairies, dolls, and really great books. After all, I think she’s still sort of waiting on her letter from Hogwart’s.
And it hit me the irony that on this day, 95 years after women were given “equal” rights, I’m having to explain why doing something like a woman–running, hitting, throwing, screaming–is considered a BAD thing.
I told her the truth as I know it. People don’t understand what is different. They sometimes feel threatened so they use put-downs and insults and other hurtful things to keep those who are different away.
And I don’t know. Basically, in the end, I told her we could guess and try to figure it out, but bottom line–I don’t get it. I don’t understand. She continued, talking about the line drawn between the boys and the girls on the street and how her brother likes to put her down because she’s a girl.
“Do you think you can talk to him?”
We talked about it, about how her Daddy sees women as his equals, and how her brother was probably just trying to show off in front of his buddies.
“Yeah, that’s why I wanted to get that folder that said ‘Girls Rule, Boys Drool’ today.”
Ummmm, no. Just no.
I explained to her why THAT wasn’t cool either, really. If we want to be equal, we need to respect the other gender the way we want to be respected.
We have come a long way in 95 years in many respects. But the fact that a child 95 years later has heard the same put-downs and insults that have been heard for years–that we haven’t already put a stop to such as this–really hurts my heart. That my daughter is struggling with this now and still, all these many years later, breaks it.
Tonight I’m hopeful that when we have the centennial celebration of women’s right to vote, we will be standing side by side–men and women, girls and boys–with respect and admiration for each other. The only way for that to happen is to start now–teaching our boys and girls, daughters and sons, a language and regard filled with respect for the other person. Comments like “You scream like a little girl” might seem funny at first glance, but really they are hurting the souls of our children–the future of our world.
May we all one day sleep the sleep that comes with peace and respect and harmony. I wish, as I tuck my two in, that it were tonight.
Love to all.