Friday, March 16, 2012

Never forget: you are a woman and you have rights!

Here's the thing...

It is HARD to be a girl.

I am glad I was born a girl (and I'm very glad you were, too! A little girl is all I've ever wanted!), but living as a female in our society is, at times, fraught with frustration and inequality. As I write this we currently live in a world where it is okay to pay women up to 30% of less than what men make for the exact same job. Okay, I should state that it isn't overtly okay, (it is illegal to discriminate) but it happens... a lot. We also live in a society that sees nothing wrong with paying for prescriptions for men who want to enhance their sex lives (i.e. Viagra), but we struggle to come up with comprehensive coverage for family planning prescriptions for women across the board.

In nearly all aspects of family planning, women are scrutinized for their desire to be in control of their own "fate." Your dad and I wanted to have a baby. In fact, we wanted to have two babies (not necessarily at the same time, mind you!) We practiced family planning before you came along until we thought we would be ready for your arrival. We did this because we wanted to be responsible parents. We wanted to own a house, have stable income, be mentally prepared for the responsibilities of raising a child... everything was thought out and planned ahead of time. We have the various methods of birth control to thank for not bringing you into the world "too soon," but rather having you at a time where we had it all under control. Now, your dad and I aren't so sure that you will ever have a brother or a sister because we already feel complete with you. Thanks to birth control, we have the ability to exercise our rights NOT to have more children if we so choose.

There are people in the world who would consider us to be very wrong for choosing to regulate our family this way. There are people RIGHT NOW who would consider your poor mom to be some sort of harlot for making the decision to take a pill to regulate my menstrual cycle/fertility or to get an implantation in my uterus, which would keep me from becoming pregnant for up to 5 years. Imagine that? I hope this all sounds completely ridiculous to you by the time you're old enough to read these words because it will mean we, as a society, finally got our collective heads out of our asses and realized that women (and their partners) have a right to plan their families without being stigmatized.

You are the most wonderful thing that could have happened to your dad and I, but we don't necessarily feel like you need a brother or sister at this time because the three of us feels like "enough" right now. I can't even begin to tell you how often people ask me when I'm going to get pregnant again. I can't even begin to tell you how shocking it is to have people think it is their business to know these things in the first place! Imagine their surprise when I tell them we aren't currently considering having another child. Oh, the horror! I've had people go so far as to tell me that it is my moral imperative to have another child because we're such good parents to you and it is selfish not to have more. Um... thanks? (This, dear, is called a backhanded compliment. People will say something nice to you to hide the fact that they are condemning something else about you.) I have a hard time defending our decision to these people because "all children are gifts and you should want more." I think that does a great disservice to you, our only child, because I feel like they're saying I need more than you to be happy. I'm very happy, damn it! You are my WORLD! I'm still trying to come up with a nice way to tell these people to butt out. I may never find a NICE way to do it.

Another thing I hope you never have to experience as a woman, but I have experienced firsthand, is how society thinks that women are a public commodity. The sad thing is that women are just as guilty of perpetuating offensive acts against other women as the men are; sometimes even worse! When I was pregnant with you, any personal space boundaries I may have had before I was pregnant were GONE! As soon as people found out I was with-child, my belly got more rubbings than an inverted puppy. Would you EVER walk up to a stranger and ask to touch their stomach randomly? I hope not. It happened to me several times. Being pregnant also gave people a perceived permission to ask me the most personal questions (like my breastfeeding plans, how much weight I gained, did I have hemorrhoids?) Women were the worst about it. Men, at least, seem to shy away from asking women anything weight-related and, according to your dad, women don't have anything going on in or around their backsides. He likes to believe that girls don't poop. You totally ruined that illusion for him!

Long story short... as a woman people will think you should share personal information about yourself (guys in bars will be pushy when trying to get information out of you, too. Tell them to bugger off!) or accept less than what is owed to you. I want you to know that you are a woman and you have rights! You are more than your body, you are more than your race or your gender. You are a human being who deserves respect and equality regardless of the plumbing you were born with. I hope to do my best to raise you believing that.

Lastly, this world is really hard on women when it comes to appearances. There is a certain standard of beauty shoved down the throats of nearly all women by the media and our peers. I want you to know that this perfect image of the perfect woman is complete and utter bull-hockey. Those women Do Not Exist. The women in those pictures don't actually look like that in real life. Those women are digital. They are virtual. They are impossible in so many ways. I don't want you to EVER use those images as the ruler by which you measure your appearance. You are also more than your face. Of course I think you are beautiful because you ARE beautiful. But you are also smart, funny, fun, energetic, enthusiastic, and awe-inspiring... and you're only 13 months old right now! Imagine what all you'll be when you're older?? Nothing short of amazing, I imagine. You are more than the individual parts. You are the whole package.
I wish I could tell you that all of what I've said will be enough to get you through life. I wish I could say the right combination of things to make it enough. Instead, it is our job to bring you to a point where you fight for your own rights; a place where you are "enough" for yourself just like you're "enough" for your dad and I. (More than enough! Our cup overflows because of you!) Until then, you will always have a safe place from this unsafe and unfair world; in our arms, hugging you tightly.