One of life's blessings and curses of living all my life as a woman in the United States, is that I have memories how life was and has evolved to what life is like for women today.
When I was in the 6th grade, I was part of a movement to stop our elementary school from forcing girls to wear dresses during the winter. Even though we lived in CA where winters tended to be mild, the schools had a gender specific dress code. One day, all the girls sat on the asphalt of our playground demanding the right to wear pants. Our pictures were in the newspapers with their parents who supporting them. Our school protest shattered the norms of society at a time when "sit-ins" were common during the Vietnam War, and bunch of 10 and 11-year-old Girls won the battle against the injustices of our school. Today, because of the courage of children, girls wearing pants to school is no big deal.
I was part of the women's movement for changes for women in a male dominated career. When it came to women in law enforcement there were clearly defined roles and job descriptions for men and women. In 1981, I attended the sheriff's academy and had to wear a skirt and heals as my uniform while my male counterparts wore pants and boots. Men were provided full gear and a larger belt (called a Sam Brown) that would carry a large gun, bullets, and handcuffs. Women were only allowed to carry a small 2" revolver (no bullets or handcuffs) on a belt designed for a woman's waistline (called a Sally Brown). Women were not commonly sent to patrol stations, and if they were assigned to a station, they answered the phones and worked as dispatchers. I was one of the first women who went to patrol, ultimately becoming one of the first female training officers, and then promoted to detective. Sexual harassment was ramped as men dominated the ranks and quid-quo-pro was expected. I fought against the injustices while other women accepted their fate and slept their way to the top. It was painful watching others promote while knowing all the time that I was more qualified than they were. When I married and began a family, it opened doors to more abuse when my command could use my choice to be a mother against me and forced me to work nights as a way to silence me. It only emboldened me to continue to fight for the rights of women. With many women at the top ranking positions in law enforcement, I am proud I didn't accept what was wrong and fought the fight so other's could benefit today.
I have always fought against what is wrong. It's just a part of who I am. Today's battles are harder to see because they hide behind lies, deception, and misrepresentations that, unless you have a trained eye to see it, you may accept something as good when it is truly meant for evil.
Why do women have to be "empowered" today? Do they not possess the ability to be powerful on their own without power being bestowed upon them? And who has the ability to give or take away this empowerment? Since when did women become so weak and disempowered? Did they loose their power, did someone take it from them, or have they been told a lie that they were never powerful to begin with?
Why do women have to be "freed from their children" so they can pursue their own individualized endeavors, careers, or goals? Can't a mother be both loving of self as well as loving of others? Does a woman HAVE to choose between career and family? Why not both? My generation had careers and families and were fulfilled by BOTH. We knew how to love and spoil our kids. We knew our identity was created out of our own desires and the only limitations were those we placed on ourselves. When we were challenged, we overcame. When we had a choice, we choose the better path that profited everyone including the children. We worked hard, played harder, and loved hardest of all. We protected our children and if needed, we were not afraid to raise them alone. We sacrificed for the sake of our children and we were better for it. Now as a grandmother, I am proud of the daughter I raised to be a warrior, a wife, and a mother. The battle for her children and her children's children is just beginning. I pray for you to be courageous and wise as you armor up for your own battles that lay ahead. Don't let anyone tell you how you should live, how you should love, or how you should fight. Those who stand behind you and push you into battle are not on your side, they are cowards who will steal your life away to its last breath. As the Bible says, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" 2 Timothy 4:7.
"The mother is the gatekeeper of life."
Kimberly Ells, author of,
"The Invincible Family:
Why the Global Campaign to Crush Motherhood and Fatherhood Can't Win."
To learn more go to: StopCSE.org