I've learned from happy women and men in my life that monetizing your personal capital is the only path to success. I guess that's my current life goal. You don't have to be special to be happy you just need a supportive network. There are many kinds of networks each individual has. The strength and positivity of those networks will often dictate your productivity and happiness. All of these things are influenced by how our society is designed. The dynamics between men and women, the relationships between generations all of those are by design. Those who influence politics, media, and business will ultimately design our culture and write our history.
In this past year, however, I have spoken to a diverse group of women close to me and tried to expose myself to more diverse viewpoints. In that time I have found four things that all women regardless of age or status or how they identify personally, politically and even religiously, they seem to agree on these four things.
Historically, there have long been two main lines of thought when it comes to progressive design and conservative design. Progressives like Booker T. Washington or Bobby Kennedy saw that the only way to true power, for marginalized groups, was hard work, academia, and protest. Even conservative idols like Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan agreed with those notions. Conservative or "Republican" ideals historically surround privately providing capital to support entrepreneurship. This is usually called trickle-down economics or capitalism. Often time this kind of activism is seen as justice or equality through Supreme Court, war, economic boom or collapse.
Progressive or "Democratic" ideals surround providing access to opportunity in order to establish equity. Those sentiments can be found through policy like the child welfare system, the criminal justice system and the cost of living. It is important to think about this main distinction. Of course, this is only how I view the American political party system, but I thought it was important to provide my thoughts in order to provide context for the rest of the article.
Paid Family Leave
There are three types of currency in the professional workforce. Time, money, and productivity. In my gap year, I've realized that in order for me to practice self-care, I need to find a professional and personal balance between the three. For my gap year, I worked full time as a nanny. Which means I got compensated for taking care of children that weren't mine. In the US there's no federally mandated as paid family leave. So having children becomes part of a sacrifice we make of our time and therefore money. So is it so surprising when middle and working class women say they are sick and tired of politics? There is clear injustice that we have tried to fix, and now more than ever we have the Human Development Index, or capital, to do so.
In our society that sacrifice of time and therefore money comes from the woman in a heterosexual relationship. That's why women are statistically paid so much less than men for the same work. Even if a woman works full-time she's less likely to be to go on business trips, attend extra work meetings or invest more of her time and money into her own career. Thus it often becomes the responsibility of the husband to continue to work and make more money. This system has worked more or less for decades. However, this system is the basis of income equality that modern feminist so ardently resists and protest. The idea that a woman is solely responsible for all her family choices and therefore has to sacrifice her time and her money for her child while man only has to sacrifice his money and not his time is inherent sexism. It places sexist expectations and burdens on women that should not exist. There is nothing wrong with being a homemaker it is a very happy and fulling life for lots of modern empowered women.
However, like all feminist issues, this is an issue of giving women the option to choose to continue to work and further her career for the sake of herself and her family.
Like the delicate, unfunny, female I am, I love Samatha Bee and some old Jon Stewart, or hell even some Ellen. My new Netflix favorites are Black Mirror and Grace and Frankie. As far as women's empowerment, no show has influenced me more in the past year or so than Grace and Frankie. Grace and Frankie is a wonderful show because there are two age gaps. Grace and Frankie are two older women with gay husbands who come out can get married. The two wives are a mess due to years of either neglect or over consoling. Their children and husbands are all put into free fall because they simply cannot find any control. Yet through all of it, they are able to bring their families back together by empowering themselves and eventually other women.
Now the show is a kind of convoluted way of showing that a fulfilling life for a woman does not have to fit a mold. It does not have to be perfect and there are many pathways to being happy. The show, however, shows older white women and men who live very privileged lives. They have money and beautiful homes and other wealthy friends. The more I reflected on the show and the more I wanted to become my own version of Grace and Frankie the more I realized the privileges I enjoy and those I do not. I would say that in my daily life my race does not play a role in my life. However, if I were to pause and reconsider comments my friends make or the anxieties I have surrounding money it is pretty clear that I do not enjoy all the benefits of the white half of my DNA.
I was raised by a single mother. She is an immigrant, but was lucky enough and worked hard enough to put herself through school in the United States and get a good paying secure job. That financial security provided a routine for me growing up and let my mom expose me to a variety of activities and camps that my more traditionally privileged friends enjoyed. I've talked to my mother many times about how she got her citizenship. She was offered an opportunity to study in the United States while she was already working full time in Hong Kong (her home town). For her first two years, she attended a community college and worked or went home in the summer. Then she was able to transfer into a state school for her last two years because of a scholarship. That scholarship provided her with a far more competitive degree and along with her natural intelligence and work ethic, she has built the life she wanted.
So as I enter college and get to go to a school I only dreamed of being able to afford. I am proud that I have been able to follow in my mother's footsteps and obtain enough scholarship money to afford out of state tuition. At the same time, I am frustrated and honestly distraught that the only way for a child of a single parent to afford their dream school's tuition was for her to work hard enough to get it paid for. I think it is unfair that I can if the college of my choice because I am considered gifted. We reward good students with entrance into universities however only privileged students reap the benefits. The college admissions process and the absolutely insane expectations of high school kids leave kids with struggling parents to suffer. If college were made even remotely as affordable as it has been for previous generations it would be possible for any student with less than average resources to put themselves through college and invest in themselves.
We hear lots of buzz words about feminist. We hear about intersectional feminist, fourth wave feminist, modern women, alt-left, socialist, all of whom haven't worked a day in their life. Or we hear that modern conservatives: won't call themselves feminist, won't identify with pro-choice values, and are seen as unreasonably pro-gun. However, to me, this is an issue of representation. As soon as a young woman or man hears the thoughts or opinions of respected figures, they will immediately consider that point of view. It's a natural human instinct that's why little kids get attached to older siblings or older kids and so many self-help books tell you to find someone you want to be and imitate them. So when respected figures use counterproductive, polarizing rhetoric I get so frustrated.
When women or anyone wants to start a family they look back on their own childhood and the families around them to decide how they will structure their families lives. My peers come from majority "untraditional" families. Single parents, divorced or separated parents are extremely normal among my friends and among the children I work with. Beyond that, almost all of my friends grew up in a household where both parents worked. We have also seen the emotional and financial consequences of removing contraception and real sexual health education. So when it comes to family planning my generation will not budge.
My access to birth control is the only thing that has kept me equal to my male peers. Yes, that sounds crazy but the only important distinction I can find between my male friends and my female friends when talking about our future is children. Everyone I speak to wants to wait to have children until they are financially able to. That was any remotely responsible person will do. For the men in my life, that means making sure they don't get a girl pregnant but for some reason, that responsibility still falls on the women.
A girl is stupid if she wants to have sex without birth control or evil for getting an abortion but men are never demonized or made equally responsible for the pregnancy. Yes, not all men would run out if they got a girl pregnant, got it. However, until the rhetoric and actions of the media and politicians change, women will have to continue to fight to protect their access to the full spectrum of women's health care. Women are just asking that we return to the ideals and rights to privacy that the Fourteenth Amendment grants and Roe v. Wade upheld.
Knock the House Down
After the 2016 election, I was on a mission. My world became a maze of deadlines and anxiety. At first, it was the achievement gap. personally hate the media more than anything in the world, growing up regardless of what women I knew and loved told me I was ugly and stupid. As I got more mature I've received comments from people I love and respect without judgment. I take their comment on my looks, my demeanor, my activities and a sign of their love. It is important to make the people feel closest to feel special because of that's the only way to show someone you love them. I make it my goal today to have influenced the media in some professional capacity.
That's another thing my mom and boyfriend and probably all my friends think I need to work on. I honestly cannot sleep unless every idea is out of my brain. Since I can't sleep in capitalizing on it. This summer and this year I chose jobs I could do projects at. When I babysit I often bring my computer or phone to read or write. Shows like Black Mirror or Grace and Frankie display this kind of new wave, grassroots feminism as the way forward for women in business. It seems like the only way for women to make it in any career. The reason is that women have more access to equal pay to equal work. I'm personally offended and if you agreed with one word in this article you should be personally offended if someone says they don't like Kamala Harris, or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, and Hillary Clinton. All of these women have one thing in common. The ability to connect, they are leaders in their field because they can connect.
I am part of the Next Generation Service Corps and it took me becoming part of the cohort, seeing the financial stability I now enjoy, to know a true leader of my generation will be a good storyteller. After my boyfriend came home and I was awarded a position in my cohort, I began listening to a podcast by two crazy, addicts with piercings and tattoos. These two women are named Karen Killgariff and Georgia Hardstark. They're both crazy successful but have had several career paths ruined by insecurity, addiction, and mental illness. They often argue that a holistic approach is needed that there isn't one good way to live your life. They somehow communicated it to me in two months with 100 podcasts, an audiobook and to be completely honest if I saw that they were able to be successful through their failures. That's something my mom probably tried to show me like 19 million times in different ways.
Since my epiphany, after finishing the book, I wish I had more diverse exposure to people and places and jobs of real people's experiences of becoming a happy person. My transition has been snail pace compared to most but I finally feel like I have the confidence and power to be successful beyond high school. I did this by investing in myself. It wasn't very expensive and I have hobbies, habits, and responsibilities, I hope to continue and give advice about as I grow older and hopefully wiser. I want to learn about women's stories and tell other women. For the next couple of months don't ask me what political candidate I support because I don't know. Right now, in this social and cultural climate, I feel like I can only trust 50.8% of the United States; and if you can't understand that you might be a bigot.