Recently a social media campaign that was captioned “Girls can do anything” transported me to a time when my dad bought me a plaque that said the same and plastered it on the door to my room. I didn’t quite get it and mainly saw it as another piece of motivational writing and pretty decor. One day my sister slammed the door too hard, the plaque fell and broke.
Pretty much the story of the relevance of such motivational quotes to the life of a woman. They’re taught and preached and devised to create strong women, confident women and inspiring women. They’re also feared to have the potential to make a woman too strong, too confident and too inspiring. “Just being perfect in the right amounts and proportions” is as much society’s struggle as it is mine.
As feminism evolved, women saw a great spreading of their gender into non-conservative roles. We became CEOs. We became the movers and shakers of corporate policies. We started to remove the stigma around a working mom and I think, have come out semi-successful. It all has been a huge win for women. Is more required? Yes! Tons more.
Girls can be pilots, politicians, physicians, stateswomen, revolutionaries, businesswomen, writers, philosophers, artists, producers and directors, fashion designers. Girls can really be anything. They can be a mom and something else too. They can be that something else and not a mom. Or they can be a mom. Whatever works for them. The judgment is still thick around women but there has been progress. Huge progress!
So girls can do anything. I feel so happy saying this, repeating it and hearing it reverberate around me until I hear silent sobs of girls who can’t do something so important for their souls that it puts all the progress behind them.
Girls can’t report crimes to their body.
Girls can’t report abuse.
Mothers can’t report dissatisfaction in marriages.
Mothers can’t report abuse to their daughters.
Girls can’t scream “unfair”.
Girls can’t draw lines around their bodies and their minds.
Girls can’t stop unwelcome invasion of their beings.
Girls can’t complain about unwelcome invasions of their beings at the hands of other men and women.
That sets us back. That rape can’t still be reported without people questioning the woman, asking about the lurid details of the act, wondering why she reported it so late, wondering why she wore what she wore, went to the party that she went to.
That sets us back.
That’s a constant reminder to me, as a woman and as the mother of a daughter, that girls can’t do everything. They can may be do anything professionally and socially now but that power comes with a heavy side of expected decorum. It comes with a lot of responsibility for others’ acts. So until the saying changes to “Girls can do everything”, there is way more work to do for our souls than we ever counted on.