I am so lucky to have good women in my life: friends I’ve had since childhood who I still talk to on a weekly basis, no matter what continent I live on, who know me as well as I know myself; friends from college who fly from far corners of the world to meet up and celebrate our friendship; friends I’ve made since becoming a mother who commiserate and support, encourage and empathize.
Cousins and aunts and in-laws and grandmothers and teachers and coaches and colleagues; I am the luckiest woman of all to have met and been inspired by so many other women.
The women in my life are nurses and teachers and doctors and business owners and writers and artists and athletes. I know that whatever wild ideas I ever have about what I want to do and where I want to go and who I want to be, they will support me. Or they will talk me out of those wild ideas because they love me and they’re not afraid to tell me when I’m wrong.
Strong women aren’t threatened by the success of others; they feel joy and not jealousy when great things happen to someone else. Strong women speak their minds but know the value of keeping their thoughts to themselves. Strong women laugh at their mistakes, try new things, persevere through difficulty. They don’t make excuses. Strong women help others find their own strength.
I am also lucky to have strong men in my life, who never have been afraid of a strong woman, because the one is not exclusive of the other. My father, who, with three daughters rough-housed and rode bikes and played ball with us and may have complained about the number of Barbie dolls in the playroom, but never, ever once in our whole lives made us feel like he wished he’d had a son. My husband who believes that I can do anything and encourages me when I don’t believe it myself. My three boys, to whom the idea that girls can’t do the same things as boys is so foreign that they didn’t believe me when I explained to them that there are actually people in the world who DO believe that.
Women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, bad-ass in her eighties with a cooler rap name than I’ll ever have, have spent their lives fighting to create a world like that — where little boys think the concept of a girl not being able to do what a boy can do is ludicrous. I owe them a debt of gratitude, because it’s working. Although we’re not there quite yet, articles like this one, describing how a “good wife” in the 1950s should behave, show me how far we’ve come.
When I showed the picture of the Notorious RBG and Ms. Gloria Steinem to my eleven year old daughter and explained who these women are and what they’ve done, she mentioned Malala and Emma Watson — new faces in a new generation of strong women. My daughter has role models every bit as good as the ones I grew up with, and that makes me happy.
My life is better because of all of these beautiful and daring and capable and smart women in it. And I am raising a daughter who, I hope, will see these amazing women around her, and through them know her own bravery and intelligence and strength and ability as well.
So here’s to strong women: May We Know Them, May We Be Them, May We Raise Them.