Raising Rebel Girls

March 29, 2017

“To every little girl who dreams big, I say: Yes, you can be anything you want – even president.”
-Hillary Rodham Clinton

In honor of Women’s History Month, many of my colleagues have written moving memorials to the women who have inspired them – mothers, grandmothers, mentors, teachers, artists, visionaries, trailblazers. As we come to the end of the month, I too am writing about two women who inspire me, but instead of looking back at the generations that came before, I am looking ahead to the generation that comes next.

I am the proud mother of twin tween girls who inspire me daily. They know how to code, they ride unicycles, the first song they learned to play on guitar and keyboards was Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl.” I have tried to provide for them more opportunities than I had in my youth and reinforce the message that they can do anything and be anything they want.

I sat down with Scarlet and Tallulah to find out what they know about Women’s History Month and to hear how gender stereotypes affect their day-to-day… turns out, not much. Now it’s my job, and yours (seeing as how it takes a village) to not mess that up.

March is Women’s History Month, were you aware of that?
Both: Yes.

What do you know about it?
S: It’s about celebrating famous women… well, all women.

Do you do anything to celebrate Women’s History Month in school?
Both: No.

So, do you think it’s easier to be a boy or a girl?
T: Neither. Well… there are things that are good and bad about each.

What’s good about being a girl?
S: Everything!

What’s bad about being a girl?
T: We have to fight for a lot of stuff… equal rights.

Do you see inequality in your daily lives?
T: Girls are equal to boys. Well, elementary-age boys are jerks and don’t pay attention in school.

Do any of your teachers listen to boys more or ask them more questions?
S: NO! Well, teachers have to ask them if they’re paying attention more.

What do you want to be when you grow up and why?
T: I’m not sure. Either a teacher or a scientist. Or an actor. Or a musician. I mostly want to be a teacher because a lot of my teachers told me I’d make a good teacher and I think it would be cool to teach kids stuff and hang out with kids all day.
(Note: Tallulah’s 3rd and 4th grade teachers have both been men).

S: A marine biologist, because it seems really, really cool. Or a pet trainer, because I like pets and I would want to come up with a new kind of training and develop a new sport – cat agility. Or a musician because I already play guitar, ukulele and string bass.

Do you think there are jobs that only boys can do?
S: No, not at all.

Q: Who are your heroes and why?
S: You. You’re amazing. With your work you persevere through problems you may have. And you buy us shelter and make me lunch everyday even though I could probably eat school lunch, but don’t trust it. And you take us to school every day. And you’re amazing because you love me. (Note: this is where I got super teary) Oh, and Hillary Clinton.

T: Yeah! Hillary Clinton. She wanted to make things better for all women. She tried to become president because it was something she believed in.

If you could interview a famous or historical woman, who would it be and what would you want to ask her?
S: Princess Leia, well, the actor who played her. I’d want to ask her about the Star Wars movies. I’d also want to interview Kelly Barnhill (Girl Who Drank the Moon author) and ask how did you get all your ideas for your stories? Did you secretly include anyone you knew in your books?

T: J.K. Rowling. I’d ask her, how did you come up with all of your ideas?

If your friends and family were to describe you with three words, which words would you hope they’d use?
S: Amazing. Caring/Loving. Smart.

T: Intelligent. Kind. Thoughtful.

What is your big hope for your generation of women?
S: Getting more equal rights. Equal pay for equal work.

T: More women in leadership roles.

Why are you proud to be a woman?
T: That’s a difficult question for a 10-year-old.

 

For Christmas I bought each girl a copy of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. I highly recommend picking up a copy for all the women in your life and a copy for yourself. 100 inspiring stories, all beautifully illustrated, but don’t just take my word for it.  

Would you recommend “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” to a friend?
Both: YES! It’s amazing.

What have been your favorite stories?
S: Coy Mathis – transgender elementary student – really really cool
Jacquotte Delehaye – pirate
Ashley Fiolek – deaf motocross racer
Sylvia Earle – marine biologist
Maya Gabeira – surfer
Jessica Watson – sailor – was afraid of the water, got over her fear

T: Nancy Wake – WWII spy
Jacquotte Delehaye – pirate captain who became one of the most feared pirates in the Caribbean
Hillary Rodham Clinton

What does this book teach you?
T: You can do ANYTHING no matter what gender you are.

Anything else you’d like to add?
T: We’re amazing. 🙂