To My Granddaughter
Posted on July 29, 2016
Last night that changed. I witnessed something marvelous and historic and despite my blog readers who might not consider voting for Hillary Clinton, there is no denying that history was made. I am not sure why the press doesn’t capture the incredible milestone in more righteous terms – and again, this is less about her politics and more about the fact that the woman who is taking the helm of the Democratic party all the way to the ballot box in November is female. Like me and like you, my little granddaughter.
It takes courage to fight over and over again for what you believe and even more courage to know what you believe in the first place. I was raised to believe that the smartest person in the room, any room, was always male. I was also raised to be demure, soft-spoken, useful, pleasant, and to grow up to be someone’s wife and mother. Those were my aspirations because I thought those were my only options. In my senior year in college, I remember thinking that the rules had changed. Some of us got the memo, but I didn’t. My current physician, for example, is exactly my age, and she headed off to medical school when she graduated from college. I went on an extended camping trip. I learned how to pitch a tent, but I came home and found a job as a secretary.
But, I fought a reasonably good fight—at least for me—as I grew older and less oblivious. It was not hard to pay attention because the world was in turmoil and glorious change was the air we breathed. I marched for women’s rights and joined the National Organization for Women. I heard Gloria Steinman speak; while I truly believed her words were relevant they rang too radical for me. I studied karate and wrote a few articles for a women’s newspaper. I did what I could while remaining demure, soft-spoken, useful and reasonably pleasant. I held up placards and stopped shaving my legs—for a month. I eventually got married and became two young men’s mother. And, I like to think I brought to the kitchen table a woman’s view of the world that rounded out the otherwise male perspective in our house.
I hope Hillary wins the presidency, and I’m going to vote for her. I am voting for her because I think she is the best candidate, the smartest person running for office, and the most prepared. Eight years ago, I voted for her in the primary mostly because she was a woman. I admired Obama but I wanted to cast a vote for a woman more than I wanted him to win. In November, I’m casting my vote for a candidate I believe to be the strongest. That’s strongest, period. What a difference a few years can make in one’s relationship to the world. It’s not hyperbole to say the world has changed too. But that is the constant you can count on: change.
Darling granddaughter, you have every opportunity to become whatever you want to be. It’s not a cliché but today’s truth. Being female naturally is part of what makes you, you. But, while it describes you it doesn’t limit you. Hold your baby brother’s hand and walk on together. You’ll be stronger having and relying on each other. Also, don’t let anyone tell you to be demure. And, remember to wear what you want. I don’t think that even Hillary wakes up in the morning and says, “Great! Another day, another pants suit.”
Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels. Luckily for you, my sweet granddaughter, you can dance barefoot and in any direction you want. You choose the music. Take my advice and fly.