International Women’s Day: A Celebration of the Post-Victim Generation
It’s International Women’s Day and today I’m wearing purple not just to celebrate today, or hope for the future, but to recognize the past.
Yesterday, I saw my daughter, Lila, happily bounce out the door to go on STEM field trip to see the inner workings of a local tech company. Lila got a behind the scenes view of what it’s really like to be a woman in tech, she hung out with women in leadership positions, and she listened to women who are experts in their respective fields. It’s often inspiring to hear women speak up and out, but it’s a game changer when you see women in real life. Nothing extinguishes a stereotype like seeing its opposite in action.
I grew up pre “take your daughter to work day.” But in my house it was an unspoken rule that I could skip school and go to work with my Mom. I went to work a lot. I’ll never forget the the impact of seeing my Mom as boss, crusading and leading. Great writers often say it’s better to show not tell, and I don’t remember anyone telling me that I could be anything but I remember seeing that in Mother’s office.
Young girls now have access to tech leaders, data scientists, and engineers as role models. While I might not be a scientist, I appreciate the work that they do, and that my daughter has the opportunity and is encouraged to explore her interests.
On International Women’s Day and in this #metoo moment, we often focus on how much needs to be done, instead of celebrating the groundwork that the women before us have laid out and how different the future looks for younger generations. As a mom, I’m inspired to see this change. I’m hopeful to see girls grow up in a culture that is making space for girls to dream big and wide and anywhere. The message for young girls at the moment is: we will listen to you, and you have the right to be whatever you want to be.
Today, Rebecca Solnit wrote for the Guardian about the success of the #metoo movement, and how it couldn’t have happened without decades of hard work by the feminists before her. “Something invisible had made it possible for these highly visible upheavals and transformations. People often position revolution and incrementalism as opposites, but if a revolution is something that changes things suddenly, incrementalism often lays the groundwork that makes it possible.”
I agree with Solnit, and instead of looking at #metoo as a moment in time, we need to look at it more as a work in progress that started long ago. As a movement, we can recognize its flaws, and we can also recognize that there were plenty of teachers, janitors, lawyers, nurses, and women who didn’t get to see the benefits of the #metoo movement in their lifetime.
However, our kids are growing up in a totally different environment. The us and them construct is so dated, and even our understanding of gender and binaries are changing. My kids are growing up in a post-gender society, where being gender fluid is not only accepted, but the norm. I can’t help but hope as they become post-gender, that they also become the post-victim generation.
When I look at women today, I think that they are in the perfect position to move beyond the limiting mindsets and realities of the past. I see the women who work in my office at SG, and how they are taking charge of their careers, helping others, and guiding young women towards their career goals and I feel hopeful for the future. So for International Women’s Day, I want to celebrate all the women in underrepresented fields who are paving the way for girls like Lila to be whatever they want to be.