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Sunday, December 15th, 2019

About how we raise our daughters

by November 27, 2016 General

There is something I have to tell you about the way we raise our daughters. Precious like a treasure. Growing up, we tell them they are princesses; worth their weight in solid gold. We raise them so cautiously, like a ticking time bomb. Always on a watch for them, never letting them slip the periphery of our vision.

We forget that the thing about being a treasure is that it takes away your humanness. Being precious takes away your ability to fail, to be vulnerable, to be a fearless hustler.

You can’t afford to fail anymore because you have market value. Every rejection letter diminishes that value, every stretch mark puts a dent in the gold bars, every failed love reminds you that your market value is dropping. In the name of caution, you become the treasure that is constantly watched. What is she going to say next, how loud is she going to say it, how controversial is it going to be? What is she going to wear? How short, how deep, how tight is it going to be? Who is she going to meet, will she be ladylike for him, will she make him work hard enough?

So you find yourself taking lesser risks and the statistics start backing your fear, confirming that you are the gender that is 60 per cent less likely to apply for a job you may not qualify for. You find yourself apologising to people around you, for taking up the space that was your birthright, the space that had your name on it when you were sent to this world.

What they don’t tell you, is that you still are a princess; a more human kind of a princess. Not all gold and diamond but still very, very valuable. Your value is no longer controlled by the market forces, it comes from a place deep within.

Woman, you are rugged now, you are experienced now. You have lived, and failed, and loved, and you have learnt things, and you have taught things. You are not innocent anymore. And there comes a day in every woman’s life when she realises how much the world around her wants her to stay innocent.

Instead, know this. Stop apologising for the loss of your innocence.

Stop apologising for being “not reserved enough,” for being “too forward”.

Don’t say sorry, not for being smarter, not for being more intuitive, not for being more ambitious than the guy you were born with or are on a date with or are married to.

Instead, sit down. Evaluate the worth of your talent, your art, your time, your brawn, and never again settle for anything less. Negotiate a better contract, ask for more, give compliments, smile more, or smile less.

Realise in all of these, the vulgarity in the apologies you have made all this time and shouldn’t have had to.

Instead, tell the people around you,

That an apology doesn’t always begin or end with a “sorry”.

When you stare at that girl for too long on the bus and she starts to shift uncomfortably, that is an apology.

When she starts to adjust her dress, that is an apology. When she earns less than you do, that is an apology. When she makes space, so you can have a successful life and career and doesn’t ask for anything in return — that is an apology.

So you see, I want to tell you about the way we raise our daughters. She is not made of solid gold.She is not an object, not even an expensive one.

She is human. She is vulnerable, hard working, capable of handling rejection, and capable of failing miserably and trying again.

More than anything else, everyday, she is an unapologetic hustler.The author is a spoken word poet. She lives in Singapore.