If there’s one thing I’d like to tell my tell my daughter (and even more, my son), and all the women out there, its this. You are much more than a vagina. You are more than the damsel in distress. You are more than the color of your lipstick, or the size of your bra, or height of your heels.
You are a life, waiting to be lived to the fullest. A story, that deserves to be told. A legacy, that must be passed down generations.
You are a dream. A passion. An individual who has a right to her own individual quirks and idiosyncrasies, because you are unique. Irreplaceable.
Yet, you will be objectified. More than once. In boardrooms. In films and magazines and music videos. Reminded that you are nothing but a vagina. Which is when you must remember that you are so much more than that. And make sure others do too.
From someone who’s experimented, flown, fallen yet survived and thrived to tell the tale, if there’s a few nuggets of wisdom I could impart to my daughter, or any woman who’d be willing to listen, they would be:
1. Be the seeker, not the settler : Follow your passion, and follow it with all your heart. No one I know died from an overdose of passion. Even when they tell you that you’re being a tad bit too adventurous. In fact, even more, then. Because if there’s one message the world needs to get, it is that passions are not gender specific. Be a fire-fighter if that’s what you want to. Go scuba-diving. Climb mountains. Swim oceans. Do them all.
Following your passion is a gamble, yes, but not following it at all, an even bigger one. To passion, add purpose. And to purpose, perseverance. Because the journey isn’t going to be easy. But it’s going to be worth it, I promise. Never, ever, ever settle. You deserve to have everything you desired. Don’t let anyone guilt-trip you in believing that you should be compromising. When in reality, you should be climbing and striving fearlessly to make your way to the top of mountain.
2. Why even try to be a male ? No, you don’t have to emulate a man. In an era where we want equality of the sexes, you do not have to become the ‘man of the house’, or ‘wear the pants in the family’ in order to demand power or respect. Your title or position isn’t a function of your gender. You can do it all, even in high heels and lipstick, if you want. And if make-up and jewelry isn’t you, you shouldn’t have to stick to that either.
3. Damsel-in-distress is so passe – You are not entitled to an easy ride. And don’t demand it either. Because there is absolutely nothing that is outright a man’s task or a women’s job. If you want to be an independent, confident, power woman, you need to stop expecting knights-in-shining-armours to spring out of nowhere and come to your rescue. If we expect men to learn housework (which traditionally was believed to be a woman’s responsibility only), then we also should be ready to take on the so-called ‘tough’ tasks – change a flat tire, replace a fused bulb, carry those bags, and yes, even take the check at that fancy restaurant. This segregation of tasks by gender has to stop.
4. Break stereotypes. Everyday – Often times, society, sometimes even your own friends, colleagues and family will try to box you into roles that apparently you are supposed to fit into. You will often be given labels like ‘soft’, and ‘ladylike’, and ‘feminine’, that have no objective meaning, yet you will be expected to adhere to. ‘Soft’ need not mean submissive, it could also mean compassionate. ‘Feminine’ need not mean ‘shy’, it could also mean vivacious. Your labels, and definitions are your own. Create them, adopt them, even alter them, if you must.
5. Respect for other women is key – When one woman rises, another does. And a group of empowered women is all it takes to make other women rise. So if we have to rise collectively, respect for each other is key. We cannot rise if we judge, criticize and bring down each other.
In the end, what I’d also say, is that just like how charity starts at home, you can only expect respect from the world, if you choose to respect, honor, and protect yourself first. Because you deserve it. So demand it. And don’t settle until you get it. Simply because, you are so much more than a vagina.