Letter to my Granddaughter

by Amy Laws

    There is an old Chinese proverb that states: “women hold up half the sky.” Women make up half of this earth, and are just as equally responsible of it. Being a woman doesn’t mean you have to be a princess waiting for your prince, a submissive housewife, or that you have to dedicate your life to looking beautiful in the eyes of society. Being a woman doesn’t mean that you are restricted to a neat little gender role, it means that you opportunities are limitless. There will inevitably come a day when you are told otherwise, and when that day comes, I want you to remember that all humans, regardless of gender identity, are equal. I trust that you will work towards a future where women will be treated as equals.

    When reflecting on my past, I find that all of my childhood dreams revolved around what I thought would be an expected career. I challenge you aspire to be whatever you find joy in; even if it is considered to be a “man’s job”. Do not limit yourself to becoming a nurse or a flight attendant, but also do not let anyone look down upon you for choosing to do those things if you wish too. If you find yourself in a male dominated profession, do not let anyone convince you that you are not capable of becoming a leader. There is a popular saying amongst the girls of my generation that I particularly dislike, “Act like a lady, think like a boss.” People that follow this ideology are not striving towards equality. As long as people keep insinuating that ladies and bosses need to be put into separate categories, we will never fully be equal. I want you to be a lady and a boss; there is no reason to separate the way you think and act. Most importantly, women of your generation should never subject themselves to a pay gap. Women and men doing the same job should receive the same income, and there is no sound reason as to why they shouldn’t be.

    The way women are portrayed in the media hinders the battle towards equality tremendously. The women of your generation should never let themselves be objectified by men. Occasionally the entertainment industry will create the illusion of a strong female character, but she will be hidden behind a beautiful mask of a seductive villainess without a moral code, or a beautiful but insecure woman who can’t find happiness in life, without the guidance of a man. The women of your generation shouldn’t have to suffer the repercussions of the media’s insistence to subliminally reinforce gender roles. Violence against women should never be tolerated. The media should never be able to point fingers to victims and find reasons why to direct blame towards women. No one will dare blame you for wearing the wrong outfit, deciding to have a few drinks on a night out, and not carrying weapons to fend off an attacker. You will not be scared into not being outspoken about an attack from fear of being blamed.

    In the words of Constance Baker Mottley, “Something which you think is impossible now is not impossible in another decade.” I want you to take these words to heart, and know that women will be able to overcome all the challenges put upon them. I want you to remember that women need to continue to advocate for equality and until everything in this letter becomes reality.

Amy Laws is an Ashland High School senior.  Her essay is the first place winner in the 2014 International Women’s Day essay contest for middle and high school students.