When I was a little girl, I was told I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. And although I never dreamed of Wall Street or law school, I did believe that the future was wide open, and anything was possible. As I left my youth behind, and entered into my teenage years, I was indirectly made aware that there was a great divide between the other gender on the playground and us. But youth carries naivety. And as I changed colleges and majors, I found myself in the minority of a world that, even ten years later, isn’t ready to share the table with a woman. I remember the way they looked at me, like I didn’t belong. When I told my professor I thought maybe I should change departments, he seemed to agree and encourage my departure. I’ll never forget that same year when I was told that, “You won’t look like that forever. You should probably find a husband soon to take care of you.” This too, I brushed off. Laughing, when I knew deep down, I was the butt of their jokes.
That brings us to now.
A day and an age I never saw coming. Progression, although it may have been slow, was moving us forward. Then we were slapped across the face, made clearly aware that this country is still not ready for a woman to be in charge.
So when that defiant little girl was placed next to the bull in New York City, I believe we all wanted to think this meant something, as the billion dollar investor placed this image to represent “women in the workplace.” But once again, the joke’s on us.
The company that put that little girl in her place, so to speak, has some less than equal numbers when you look at their employment of women. Only 27 percent of their board of directors is female. Their statement regarding the statue, was that this is an image of “the future” and a conversation starter to cause action with other companies.
So when all those PSA’s scattered Facebook followed this event, such as the one about father’s encouraging their daughters, blah, blah, blah… I almost wanted to laugh. This is a distraction. A false promise from the higher ups. So where does that leave us? Definitely not in charge. Definitely not equal. It basically leaves us exactly where we were, just a little bit more jaded, a little bit more naive. But we can choose not to be fooled.
We must continue to fight. To understand nothing is going to be handed over to us, and that we must continue in the paths of all that came before us. We must speak up when we feel we have been served an injustice. We must fight back, because the war is far from over. A bronze statue is not a peace offering. It is a Trojan horse.
We can’t just give up because life is unfair. We also can’t raise our children in the image of the ones that came before us. For the first time, we have the ability to see the world for exactly as it is, even if it scares the hell out of us. We must not hide from it, or hide the children that will become the future from it either. We must teach them to be fighters. And to not be fooled. The world may not be fair, and it definitely may not be nice, but it is worth fighting for.
X Jessica Lee Gray