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Across my personal social media yesterday, I saw friends cheering the swearing of Kamala Harris as Vice President with their daughters, explaining that their daughters finally felt that they could achieve one of the highest offices in the land. Here’s my question about this narrative:
Why did they think that in the first place?
When we read books about the achievements of women, I make a concerted effort to make clear that while there were once limits on what women could achieve in the past but women overcame those limitations as best they could (i.e. a girl in a book we were reading about the 1800s could not become a veterinarian, but she still became a world-famous entomologist). Reading about the present day, we absolutely do not read children’s literature that reinforces a false victimhood narrative about what women can accomplish today. That is, unfortunately, a theme across children’s literature featuring girls and young women.
Four years ago, a woman ran for President. She lost not because she was a woman, but because she was a uniquely inferior candidate. Telling girls that they are unsuccessful because of their reproductive organs instead of the truth only handicaps them. This time around, a woman ran as Vice President and benefited greatly from being a woman: she was invited to join Joe Biden because she was a woman, not despite. Being a woman was an asset to Kamala Harris’s political career. Biden and Harris won not because Harris was a woman or despite that fact, but on their merits. Just like Donald Trump and Mike Pence did four years ago.
If we want our girls to grow up thinking they can do anything in the future, we need to stop telling them that they were ever handicapped in the first place.Published in