Facebook tells me that today, September 25, is National Daughter’s Day.
And my first reaction was, “Wait – this is a thing? Or is this just a Facebook holiday, kinda like a Hallmark holiday, but completely viral and fake?”
I hate being duped – HATE IT – so of course, I had to look into it so I wouldn’t fall victim to a completely fake guilt trip, the kind where I feel compelled to pour online praise over the existence my one and only precious daughter.
She is pretty awesome, by the way. I am in awe of her confidence, grace, poise, and smarts at age 10. I’m virtually certain I still had to be coached to comb my hair at her age. It might even be fair to say she’s more put together at 10 than I was at 20. But I digress…
Turns out National Daughter’s Day is legitimate. According to the Times of India, there’s actually a holiday designed to commemorate daughters because of cultural stigmas associated with having a daughter instead of a son. Apparently it’s celebrated on the 4th Sunday of September, so I’m off by a couple of days but still.
This whole thing buzzes the bee in my feminist bonnet. I work hard to respect cultural and religious differences but there comes a point where I draw the line. This myth that somehow women and girls are inferior to men and boys is one of the places where I draw it.
Really? It takes men and women to perpetuate the human species. One isn’t more important than the other. We are separate but equal. That’s what feminism is all about, and I’m a proud feminist. My husband is too. He gets it and we’re raising our boys with this in mind.
It makes me incredibly sad that it’s 2018 and there are still places in the world that need to call attention to this. But who am I kidding? It’s 2018 and America has a #metoo movement going on and a national outcry over a Supreme Court nominee who allegedly assaulted a teenage girl when he himself was a teen because, well, he could.
Don’t get me started on the president, either. That would be its own essay. A book, even.
A few years ago I had a new employee, a young woman, on my work team. She was a first generation American who grew up in northeast Ohio in what sounded like a very traditional, patriarchal home. I remember the first day we had snowfall for the winter season and she called me to say she couldn’t make it into work. She was 22 and apparently she hadn’t really ever driven in the snow.
I found that tough to believe but there she was, pleading with me or quite possibly testing me. It was hard to know which, to be honest.
Maybe you don’t know northeast Ohio but it snows here. We’re not too far from Lake Erie, so it can snow a lot. And yet there she was, 22, with a professional job, calling me to explain she couldn’t come to work when nearly 3000-4000 other employees were already on-site.
I had to explain expectations that the first normal snowfall of the year was not a legitimate reason to skip work. I wondered why in the world her family hadn’t already explained something like this to her. Was she messing with me or was she coddled? Was she taught to fend for herself or did she need to be rescued? I tried hard not to think about how her situation presented itself to me, her supervisor, but I couldn’t help but wonder – I mean, jaw agog – how she got to be 22 and relatively helpless.
God help me if I raise my daughter that same way. I mean, at least this young lady was valued and not abandoned by her family. And isn’t that what National Daughter’s Day is trying to reverse? Years of cultural shame and stigma for having a girl?
Still, it makes me wonder what good can I do in my little corner of the world when it comes to recognizing the value of the young girls we raise into women. I don’t know that I have all the answers here but we will continue to raise our precious daughter to pursue her education and interests, take full care and responsibility for herself, and to recognize the people and situations that stack the cards for and against her because, of course, that will happen.
The difference is, we’ll be in her corner the entire time, with every step she takes. We will help her thrive.
I wish that for every daughter in the world.