On January 21, 2017, 440,000 to 500,000 people gathered in Washington DC along with a worldwide participation of an estimated five million people for the Women's March. It is said to be the largest single-day protest in US History.
Women's rights are important to me and not just because I'm female. They are important to me because I have an eight year old daughter and it's my desire (along with her father's) that she has all the space to grow up to be everything she is meant to be.
As much as I want misogyny, sexism, and inequality to end FOREVER, there is a greater present threat against my daughter that concerns me...
The other girls in her class.
The extremes of bullying between girls has become more disturbing, prevalent and younger. I cried when I read about the 11 year old girl who had boiling hot water thrown on her face and body when she was at sleepover. In my own community, a 12 year old girl committed suicide after being tortured by a group of girls from her school with bullying-text messages for a long period of time. The last text message she received from one of these girls was an encouragement for her to kill herself ... and she did. As a community, we are shaken to our core. These are our kids. These are our girls and they are doing this to each other.
Looking back on my own childhood and adolescence, my greatest pain did not come from heartbreak of boyfriends but rather from the girls who ripped apart my reputation and told lies about me. Fortunately, I didn't have to suffer their abuse 24/7 because they did not have that kind of constant access to me. There was no texting back then. When I was home with my parents, I was truly safe from those girls' cruelty. My daughter, on the other hand, lives in a very different world and it's only for so long that I will be able to protect from her own kind.
As women, we have the right to be treated with dignity, respect, and kindness. When we are not, we should speak up... but what do we do when it's our own fellow sisters that are mistreating us?
This summer, I began to ask myself this question: HOW CAN I BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION? I realized that first and foremost:
I must decide and commit to intentionally raising my daughter to empower other women.
What does this look like?
1) I AFFIRM THAT SHE IS WORTHY OF DIGNITY, RESPECT, AND KINDNESS.
I tell my daughter constantly that it is her responsibility to embrace her uniqueness and it's our responsibility to accept her for who she is. She does not have to become like anyone else to find belonging. In our home, she is accepted. Both my husband and I are followers of Jesus, but our children know that their faith is their own decision to make - and no. matter. what. - they will always be accepted and embraced by us. If my daughter cannot find dignity, respect and kindness in her own home, then what chance does she have in requiring it of others?
2) I TELL HER THAT GIRL POWER IS TO HELP AND NOT HURT OTHERS.
Girl power is always to be meant for good. Girls should not gang up to tear down other girls. Girls should not use their voice to threaten or belittle other girls (or anyone for that matter). Girls should never organize themselves to bully or to exclude, but rather girls should rally together to promote the good of the entire community. I have explained to my daughter that if she sees others misusing their power or voice to hurt another person that she should feel free to speak up and to tell an adult. It's not okay for anyone to be unkind ...but girls need to stick together.
3) I ENCOURAGE HER TO LOOK FOR WAYS TO HELP OTHER GIRLS RECOGNIZE THEIR OWN AWESOMENESS.
I have taught my daughter how to compliment and make positive comments about another. In a world, where gossip is juicy and poisonous, we need to teach kids to speak kindly to and about each other. I told her that when a friend does well on a test ... or is wearing an awesome shirt ... or is super good at 4 Squares, that she should point that out to them. We have a saying in our home and that is, "Catch others doing something right."
4) I WILL HOLD HER ACCOUNTABLE.
If my daughter is with group of girls who become catty, I will point it out to her. If I find that she is not speaking up when others are tearing down another girl, I will call her to task. If another parent informs that my daughter has not been kind , I will take that accusation seriously. Mistreating others will not tolerated and will not be excused. Why?
Because women's rights are important and as women, we need to model it's importance by treating each other with the dignity, respect, and kindness we deserve.
One of things my daughter and I decided to do this summer was to make a pact. We decided to be women who empowered other women. In honor of our pact, we made two made two bracelets. One for her and one for me. Each are similar but different and represent our uniqueness.
We wear our bracelets to remind ourselves that we do not have to change who we are to belong. We will always accept and embrace each as we are no matter what. We wear our bracelets to remind ourselves that we want to be women who really truly use our Girl Power to help others. We wear our bracelets to remind ourselves that it our great duty to help other females recognize their own awesomeness. We wear our bracelets to recognize that we are a part of a great worldwide tribe of women and together....we are better.
May our daughters grow to be the most fiercely loving and kind generation ever. And may they stand on our shoulders to do so. Amen.
* Photos by : Mykowski Imagery
Noelle is a speaker, podcaster, and self proclaimed: Friendtor. (Friend +Mentor = Friendtor). She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.
Noelle is passionate about helping women find grow in their calling and encourage one another to do the same through the art of friendship. For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.