To grow up in a family without brothers was, for me, to grow up without gender division. Of course we were told to 'cross our ankles like ladies,' but we were never told not to help our father with his woodworking, or spend our time watching his work on the family cars. We three girls spent equal time playing outside and baking cookies, and we loved it. Of course, with three girls, one sister had stronger inclinations toward the technical, male-dominated fields than the other two, but each of us excelled in certain 'boy' tasks. It became clear very early on, that we were the equals of men in each of our respective talents.
As I left the warm cocoon of my home, middle school, high school, and college taught me that my happily equal house was an outlier. I, as well as the rest of my gender, have had to battle preconceptions that have supported the conclusion that the feminine require the authority and superiority of the other sex.
But, as I look towards my coming marriage, I begin to consider the children we'll have, God-willing. I think of my darling little niece and the gender biases she'll face if she decides to be an engineer or a computer programmer or the ones she'll face even if she doesn't choose a male dominated field. She will be forced to go toe-to-toe with those who will call her the 'weaker' sex, those who will try to impose their own will on her because of her femininity, and she, with all of her fire, will struggle beneath generations of systemic oppression.
My prayer for her and any other nieces, daughters, or granddaughters I might one day have, is this: That all of their fierceness and tenderness, given by God, would keep them from faltering beneath this crushing weight.
My prayer for our generation of women is this: that we might pave the way for these younger girls to become strong women, when society proclaims so many falsehoods about our women who choose to resist. It is a broken woman who insists that women should overpower the male, just as it is a broken man that imposes his will on those he is intended to support and cherish.
I must also consider my dear little nephews, gentle, sweet, and not imbued with any of the social misconceptions about women. I will watch them grow into fine young men, guided by loving parents who understand equality, and I will watch them defend this equality for their sisters and cousins. This is what a strong man looks like; someone unafraid to challenge their own superior social position in order to defend what is right.
For that reason, I say the future isn't female; the future is for equality. Yes, I recognize that 'the future is female' isn't intended to degrade men, but look at that syntax. It seems possible that the very words we intend to use to promote our equality are perhaps attacking the opposite sex in the same way that we women have been for the majority of recent history.
Is it not our responsibility to be, not petty girls, intent on revenge, but strong women, intent on equality? If we perpetrate the same atrocious attitudes that we have been subject to, then we are truly not mature women.
So please, as much as the oppression we face wounds us, more than words can say, let's be women capable of the strength necessary to forgive and better our whole world, not plunge it into another era of gender division and oppression.