This story is about looking a girl or woman in the eye and asking her for the answer.
I hesitated to write this because I read some of the other stories of overcoming such overwhelming circumstances. I decided to write but to alert the audience (in case it wasn’t painfully obvious) that this is written from a place of privilege as a white woman in the United States. There are three reasons I am writing this story: 1) I have a feeling that my experience is not very different from many others; 2) even in the US, women are subject to subconscious biases; and 3) EVERYONE can take the message from this story and change their behavior TODAY.
Here is my story. When I was pregnant with my first child, I noticed that the doctors would ask me questions first. They would look directly at me, in the eye, and they would ask me the question even if my husband were in the room. This was the first time I had experienced that and at the time, I was over 30 years old (yes, much older than some of you when having my first child!). Why did this only happen after 30+ years of life when boys and men are asked questions directly as if they know the answer from very early ages? I felt taken off guard even though I was the only one who could have the answers about my pregnancy. I didn’t feel as confident as I think I would have if people had been looking to me for the answers my entire life.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I visited a midwifery group because my experience with the physicians group for my first child was not what I had wanted. From the beginning, the midwives had no doubt that I could have a natural birth after a cesarean section. NO doubt. They had full faith in me, more than I had in myself. Because they had that faith and they assumed I would be able to accomplish this, I felt that I could to. There were no hesitations, like well, maybe at your age you should have another cesarean. Had they done that to me, as society does to our daughters----to suggest doubt-----I would have doubted myself, too.
If a girl or woman is sought after for answers, not just about child rearing and household work, then she will start to believe that she HAS the answers. She will rise to the occasion and be sure to get the answers. Over time, she will feel confident in her responses. I want to challenge all of us to start looking our girls in the eye and asking them questions as if they know the answer. Acknowledge their abilities. Empower them. Make them feel the significant contributor to society that they are.