Building a World That Can Accept the Spitfires
Spitfire isn't political, but the overlap between gender, identity, and politics can't be denied and, today, we learned definitively that there are no longer any serious female candidates running for President.
A friend and I were talking about this. I said "What's it going to take for America to elect a woman?" After some thinking, she responded "More women, everywhere, doing all the things. Women working in every job. Women majoring in every major. Women running the companies. Women running for every office, every single one... The biggest fights are the longest games. That's the only way -- seeing the long-term leadership potential in every woman you know. Every one."
I was struck by her response because not only is she right, but it's also the reason that Spitfire exists. At Spitfire, we believe that creating a nurturing space for our girls to embrace their strengths, work through their challenges, remain curious enough to seek to learn more, be empathetic enough to lift up others as they go, and to boldly take risks, even if it means failure, builds a new generation of girls who can take this world by the horns.
But, really, that's only half of the equation.
All of this growth and empowerment can only do so much, if we -- the current keepers of the world in which she exists -- aren't ready to receive her as she is. Sometimes that means letting her be a spitfire at home, letting her make giant messes, or break things out of curiosity (oops). Maybe it means holding your tongue when she says something brash or pointed, asking insightful guiding questions instead of chastising imperfect opinions. It would be too simple to say that empowering girls is the solution: the people caring for, nurturing, and educating these empowered girls also need to understand that this empowerment won't amount to a hill of beans if we don't practice what we preach.
Culture change starts at home and it starts with us. Want to build a world where girls are empowered to be the protagonists of their own stories? Think critically about the way you talk about the women in your lives. Be careful about how you talk about your body and your abilities.
Do you frequently say that you're naturally bad at things that are clearly an acquired skill? She hears that. Do you speak poorly about a female colleague or boss? Make sure your criticism isn't racist or gendered, because she also hears that. Do your family's household chores fall more often to the women in the house? Both your sons and your daughters notice, and oftentimes they assume this is how it's supposed to be. It's time to look in the mirror and make sure you're supporting the world you want her to live in.
The truth is that her odds have never been better, but they are also still stacked against her. Our girls will have to break through the glass ceilings that you and I, and our mothers and grandmothers, have been chipping away at. And we need to do everything we can to empower her to do that. Let's clean up our own house so that she can change the world.