To My Daughter, On the Election
In a matter of hours life will change, again. And not just because of the election, but because I will have given birth to my daughter.
With her birth the day before the midterms it has been impossible not to merge the two events in some fashion, which has led to a lot of reflection on the state of the world I’m bringing her into. As a feminist I’ve fought hard for health care reform but witnessed by own party throw me and my fellow women under the bus when it came to reproductive rights and access to safe, affordable health care options.
So my daughter will enter a world where doctors are targets of political assassinations, where violence against women is so mainstreamed even campaign staffers engage in it with very little public condemnation and a serious female political candidate still must address her wardrobe and hair as qualifications of leadership.
Despite significant advances in both the public and the private sectors my daughter will enter a world where the social safety net that emerged as a result of the Great Depression and that has been so very critical in helping lift and keep millions of women and children out of poverty is on the bring of being completely undone by, in large part, women who benefited from the security of minimum wages, child labor protections and wage and hour laws. These “Mama Grizzlies” call themselves feminists but campaign on a very platform antithetical to the interests of women. This will be her world.
My daughter will also enter a world where, despite an entire political party built upon values of “family” her father cannot take paid paternity leave because it’s not offered by his employer and her mother will juggle the demands of work and home almost immediately after her birth to help pay for the portion of her birth that a private industry insurance bureaucrat deemed “non-essential.” And I’ll do that juggling for about .28 cents less money that a man would. Still.
I wish I could say that my daughter is entering a world that is stronger, safer and more accepting of women than when I did, but I don’t think I can. But I can say that armed with that knowledge I fully intend to make sure that should my daughter decide to become a mother that answer will change. It has to. There’s simply no other acceptable alternative.
photo courtesy of Tammra McCauley via Flickr