And speaking of expectations…

Did you know today’s is Women’s Equality Day

My Facebook feed has been full of two things today:  Inspirational outlooks about women, whether in recognition of rights finally declaring us to be more than second-rate citizens like Emily’s List’s quote from Madam Rodham Clinton to

Image  women in their personal lives, declaring a victory in her career, an achievement by her child, or simply a photo that expresses contentment, satisfaction, and success…

Can you guess the other? 

I won’t post a photo of Miley from last night’s Video Music Awards, but no doubt you’ve seen some of the awesome pictures floating around the interwebs. I struggle with photos like that from her performance. Part of my feminist self is proud of her because she’s acknowledging and owning her own sexuality, expressing herself freely and openly in a way that still gets snide remarks from folks. My upbringing would never put that out there for me to follow, but sister, if I had her body, maybe…right? 

The other part of me is still feminist but worries about the example it sets. And the narrative that it continues. Frankly this was my face when I first saw it:

Image and not just because I couldn’t believe that some producer allowed dancing teddy bears like that onstage. 

I believe that young girls, whether they want to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, cooks, dishwashers, cooperate CEOs, or stay at home CEOs, should know that being a respected adult woman is about confidence. Confidence that you’ve made the right choice, make the right sacrifice, followed the right path. It’s usually a long game, which is why I think youth struggle with it so much. It’s tough to tell someone in the 17-22 age range that, seriously, it’s okay to be who you are and not worry about what the others watching you are thinking. 

Miley’s twitter feed gives us updates in real time, reassuring us that she’s confident, and she knows she’s in the right place. That this is just part of growing up and owning it. But she’s also a fairly visible young woman. And there are little girls who are wanting to know what confidence can look like.  

I just wish there were more pictures and footage out there that helped contrast the images that dominated today. And not in a way that says, oh well you’re a nerd because you read, or you do complicated math equations, or you do public speaking for a cause you’re passionate about. Something that celebrates the achievements of confidence in way that doesn’t also allow the opportunity to degrade the tone of the dialogue about women’s rights, women’s choices, and women in general.

And yes, it’s a lot of responsibility. You know, yeah it is. And that’s another part of this conversation but I think for now we’ll just stick with expectations. What are we expecting and motivating ladies with (no matter the ages, RHO your town here) to embody when that’s what gets the attention. 

 

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