I told my daughter she can do anything. She didn’t believe me.

world-without-sexism.jpg

Tonight before bed, my 6-year-old daughter was telling me about a boys-vs-girls competition at school today, which the girls won. I responded by saying, “Yay, girls rule!”

She cheerfully joined in at first, but then she stopped. Her expression grew more serious, and she said, “But not now, because Donald Trump rules.”

I told her Donald Trump doesn’t rule over everything, and he certainly doesn’t rule over her, and that someday a girl WILL be president.

She didn’t believe me.

She looked at me with an expression I have never seen from her before: a lack of faith.

I’m sure it can change. I’ll do everything I can to see that it does. I hope it’s enough. But right now, my daughter doesn’t believe girls rule. She doesn’t believe a girl can be president. She doesn’t believe women can do anything.

I told her there is nothing a boy can do that a girl can’t.

But she didn’t believe me.

To be clear: we haven’t talked about the election since I first broke the news to her that Donald Trump won. Our family has carried on as we normally do. And most of the time, my daughter is her same, normal, free-spirited self.

But it is there—the pain of being told that girls don’t measure up. That girls are second-class, less than, subordinate. And not just because of Tuesday’s election. I wish that’s all it were. But really, that’s just the latest thing.

My daughter is only six years old, and she’s already been told by the world around her that there are some things she can’t do, simply because she’s a girl. That she must take a backseat to the boys in her world.

This seed was planted long before a p*ssy-grabbing misogynist named Donald Trump received 60 million votes. But the lie dug itself a little deeper into my daughter’s heart this week, and it kills me.

So I did the only thing I could think of. I told her that I believe in her. That I am for her. That I will always be on her side. And that I think she’d make a wonderful president someday.

I’m with her.

Image: Charlotte Cooper / CC BY 2.0

17 thoughts on “I told my daughter she can do anything. She didn’t believe me.

  1. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe Hillary being a woman had anything to do with her losing. I think it was that people thought nothing would change if she got in. She represented the same old politics that wants NAFTA and global trade agreements that put millions of Americans out of work. The voters also rejected having a regular Republican for President. They rejected the old guard, and rightly so.

    I understand your feelings about Trump. He is a vile man who shouldn’t be a dog catcher. All I can hope for, and I am desperately hoping, is that his ideas on making thousands of jobs from infrastructure repair will work.

    I like his idea of cleaning up and building in the inner cities. He sent a Black delegation to some inner cities to see what the people need and want. That surprised and gladdened me. He wants to get out of the Middle East. Yes! So do I. What a waste of lives and money. What terrible things we have done over there. Unforgivable. And all for money; death and destruction so Cheney could have some refineries over there and Halliburton could make billions. What a country we have been. What have we done to Lybia and Syria by sticking our nose in where it is none of our business? I’m so sick of the government of this country. Well, maybe I said too much. My heart just hurts by what has been going on this century.

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    • I don’t agree that Clinton being a woman had nothing to do with her loss. But I would certainly agree that it was not the only factor. Or, to put it another way, not everyone who voted against Clinton (either by voting for Trump, voting for a third-party candidate, or by not voting) did so because of her gender.

      But when you are running to be your country’s first female president in its 230-year history, when you’re subjected to lines of inquiry that no male candidate would ever have to endure (what you’re wearing, whether you smile enough, whether you’re too “ambitious”), it seems difficult to argue that gender had nothing to do with her loss. The only factor? Certainly not. A lot of people had real policy differences with her. A lot of people believed her to be too much a part of the establishment or too corrupt or untrustworthy—though I think gender is a factor in the latter criticism, especially when you correlate her favorable/unfavorable ratings with when she was in office vs. when she was seeking office…the results are illuminating.

      But what saddens me more than the fact that we chose not to elect our first female president (and that does sadden me) is what we chose to elect instead—and what message that sends to girls like my daughter. The election of Donald Trump was a referendum on sexism, misogyny, and the objectification and abuse of women. By this, I do not mean that everyone voting for Trump was consciously voting in favor of these things, but that they had to deem them tolerable or acceptable enough in order to cast a ballot for a man like Trump. That is what I am struggling to wrap my head around.

      All of which is to say, I agree with your assessment of Trump’s character. And I’m glad you took the time to share your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m with you. I know for sure that Hillary Clinton being a woman had everything to do with Donald Trump being elected. Over and over again, when these angry Trump supporters are interviewed, they repeat that they just didn’t like her. They are rarely able to be specific and when they are specific, they spout insignificant nonsense. My daughter cried. My son didn’t. I plan to change that. Thank you for writing a beautiful post that gives me hope because a father wrote it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am all for a worthy woman to be the president. By the way, I’m not an American. I hope your daughter aspires to this highest office. That’s what America is all about.

    However, our perception is often coloured by what we choose to see and listen to. It does seem to me that your most watched channels are the pro-Hillary ones. Take some time to go find the speeches by Trump’s children, Eric and Ivanka. It will make anyone re-think what negative messages that are being put across by the MSM (seemingly bought and definitely very very bias).

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    • Hi Michael, I have watched Trump’s children…and on the whole I am not impressed. They (especially his sons) are far too much like their father.

      I get that people had legitimate policy differences with Clinton. I shared some of those differences, despite casting my ballot for her on Tuesday. (Example: I think she is too hawkish on foreign policy, and she is closer than I’d like to Wall Street.) My concern is the double standard that exists when a woman seeks power or leadership. It’s only thing to say we’re all for a worthy woman being president—and I genuinely appreciate what you said about my daughter and her aspirations. But we do not hold women and men to the same standard when they seek advancement or elected office. We talk about what they wear, whether they smile enough, whether they are too “assertive” (something we automatically assume to be a positive trait in men). Clinton was subjected to an unfair, sexist standard in this campaign. That is NOT to say she was a flawless candidate.

      This is how I would put it: a vote against Clinton was not necessarily a vote for sexism and misogyny. But a vote for Trump was.

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      • I think the only blatent sexism that Clinton was exposed to was the media’s obsession with what color her pantsuits were. Frankly, I have to wonder why they don’t call what Donald wore a pantsuit, after all I don’t recall ever seeing pictures of him in a skirt.

        The other albeit minor – and one I intentionally switched in this reply, is the prominent use of “Hillary” vs “Trump”. the use of the last name tends to imply a tougher term, while use of the first name implies a softer, more familar (as in family) term.

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      • It would be well worth reading Nancy’s comment elsewhere in this thread. She argues (persuasively, in my opinion) that the sexism toward Clinton runs much deeper than that.

        As for the use of names, I’m not sure it’s as simple as that. Or at least, that’s not the only effect using a person’s first name can have. Some people use a first name to diminish their sense of power or dominance. Note, for example, how Hillary always referred to “Donald” in the debates (and how visibly annoyed he seemed by it).

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  3. For several days you have written your thoughts about the recent election and its impact on your young daughter. Most of what you have said is not surprising since you have never tried to hide your political position. I would like to say two things.
    1. This was a race between two deeply flawed candidates. You have chosen to emphasize the flaws of Donald Trump, but the width and depth of Hillary Clinton’s dishonesty and corruption was large. Is that someone you wanted you daughter to emulate?
    2.I just read an article called “Churchspeak doesn’t help” the main point of which was that when people are hurting you have to really give them a chance to speak and really listen to them, not throw churchspeak platitudes at them. You seem to be hurting. While you may not need me or other readers of you blog, I am willing to continue listening your point of view because my experience with your blog is that you have something worthwhile to say.
    God bless you. I hope that you find your way through this situation with your hope intact.

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  4. Consider what David Brooks has to say and his call for the young to form a party based on virtue, not greed. This is something for your daughter to aspire to, not the presidency necessarily.
    ttp://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/08/opinion/lets-not-do-this-again.html

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  5. If my daughter was 6 and felt that way about Donald Trump, it would be a good time
    to explain to her about forgiving others when they mess up and to believe that they can
    change and is changing like the rest of us! He is surrounded by many people of faith who
    are influencing his life. See Kim Clement prophecy in 2014. God has raised up not a perfect man but one He wanted. In the Bible most were messed up people!
    Praying for our leaders is a good talking point for our children.
    Praying that God would guide them.
    If my people will humble themselves and pray, I will heal their land!
    Rise up church!

    Donna

    Sent from my iPad

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Well said, Donna.

    Not being an American, but being your neighbour to the North, I was very concerned how this election would pan out. I got ‘caught up’ in the Facebook postings and how both the ‘religious world’ and the ‘secular’ were fighting it out, both with valid points.

    I have been sullen these past few days over the results, until I read Donna’s comment.

    As a Christian, it is my responsibility to pray for those in leadership over me, those who persecute me, and to bless them. This, to my shame, I have not been doing.

    Today, in Canada, it is Remembrance Day – a day we reflect and honour those who paid the ultimate price, and those who were willing to do so, too. One thing they fought for was the freedom to cast a vote; to be heard and be able to influence those around us with what we believe.

    Your country has voted a way that shocked a lot of people, but now is the time to pray. “Life and death is in the power of the tongue” so rather than “killing” any chance of change through this man, I would encourage all of us (myself included) to start speaking and praying God’s will to be done for your nation through this man. God can use anyone or anything to accomplish His will, “if my people will humble themselves and pray…”

    That’s the way I see it, anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ben – I have missed your blog and am glad you’re back!

    I’ve thought a lot this campaign about how the issue of sexism and misogyny have figured in Clinton’s campaign. Those who say they dislike her but not because she’s a woman, especially people under a certain age (I’m in my early 60’s), may be partially right. Sexism may not have consciously shaped their views but it most certainly did the shape the views of the of the people who have opposed her for over 30 years. Sexism and regionalism pointed her as an outsider as the first lady of Arkansas, so she changed her name and hair style to be accepted. She and her husband made the outrageous “mistake”of saying the US was getting two for one when he was elected, and raised hackles and opposition from coast to coast (Nancy Reagan advising dear Ronnie, anyone?). Her husband cheated on her and she was too “cold”, until this year, when she was “victim shaming”.

    Some of the commentators may not see how sexism plays into this campaign, but I maintain that 30 years of name calling and double standard have taken their toll on the public perception of her. A man may be called evil, but somehow bitch is a worse insult, both on the part of the insult-er and the part of the listener. Insults to females are more emotionally fraught than comparable insults towards males. Change by a female somehow feels deceptive and threatening; similar change in a male is a rational response to changes in circumstances. If you call a rose a weed for 30 years, who even notices its scent?

    Today’s voters may not feel they have voted sexist by voting against Clinton, but they have confirmed the sexist stereotype that has been foisted on her for many decades. It’s an inheritance that is nigh impossible to escape without a great deal of very deliberate effort.

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    • Your analysis of Hillary’s (intentional use of her first name, to not be confused with Bill) being “cold” until this year’s “victim shaming” is a good insight. However, I proposed that the real depravity behind her handling of her husband’s philandering is her refusal to acknowledge it was wrong, while slamming her opponent for at worse the same activities (or at best similar) of her husband.

      I submit that without a doubt she would be President-elect today, IF, she had handled Bill’s infidelity, by saying: “What Bill did was wrong! There is absolutely no excuse for it! But in any marriage, as in any campaign, we commit to imperfect people. The test of your character is not your selfishness or your commitment when everything is rosy, but what is your commitment when times are horrible. Bill’s actions hurt many: those directly involved, those who put their trust in him, and myself! However, I have forgiven him. Please understand there is no need for forgiveness when no wrong has been done. I, repeat, I have forgiven him. But here’s the thing, you’re not electing Bill Clinton, you are electing Hillary Clinton. Someone who has tasted the bitter pill of rejection and betrayal; Someone who has been pained by the promise of false Hope; Someone, who has stayed committed to work for change from within a system rather than see rebellion and over-throwing government as the solution. And many of you have felt rejected and betrayed by those you elected who promised you Hope. But the answer is not rebellion, it is commitment and working hard to bring about change rather than over-throw. A vote for me is a vote for commitment and fidelity.”

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  8. You should tell her- provided it’s age appropriate – that there are only two roles in all of human existence that is gender based: The only role a woman is uniquely qualified for is to be an incubator for another human life; the only role a man is uniquely qualified for is to be the seed donor for that life. All other roles are fair game.

    So what does she want to be: President, then she better get focused on learning some life skills including management, economics, basic understanding of law, and leadership. The most important skill to learn is that you (no-one) is capable of knowing everything…humility! Secondly, learn how to surround yourself with people who are better skilled in areas you lack and to set them free to use their skills to accomplish the vision you’ve inspired in them.

    Tell her to avoid at all cost, even the cost of her dream, blame-shifting, lying, hatred of those who don’t agree with you, corruption (having her favors for sale to others).

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