My family had made a bee line for the Liberty Bell while I stood transfixed on a woman in a bonnet. She was not young, nor attractive per se. Black ruffles encased her neck, a good Quaker donning modest attire. I was smitten. And I was crying. Lucretia Mott, a kindred spirit, stared back at me from two centuries past. Her relentless passion, birthed where I stood, but not finished. Begun, unlocked, and I carry an ember. Because we toil on. For the slave. For women. Soul sister in a bonnet, my hero.
Months later I am in Cheyenne. Mere miles from my home I stand in a Western storefront listening to a good ole cowboy-curator share stories of his great great-grandmother. She is one of the many female homesteaders who settled Wyoming, earning the right to own land, pay taxes, and the first vote. Commonsense paved the way for women's rights, the wild west tamed by courageous independent daughters. And in my backyard, a museum dedicated to their memory.
I am indebted to their groundwork, these cowgirls. As a woman and a mother to daughters careening from girl to teen too fast, I'm not trying to raise feminists, but confident, smart, courageous girls. Is there a difference? Would I not have joined Lucretia, Sarah Grimke, Susan B. Anthony?
So I curate my own collection. Paying attention to the shift in culture, wondering at the heroes who walk among us today, I am taking note. And you should too. Here are some of my recent favorites that are helping me raise strong girls.
Movies that show us the boy doesn't always save the day, but true love is sacrificial, can be sisterly and of friends: Frozen and Maleficent
Teen sensation series that my son has devoured which have heroines: Hunger Games (okay for pre-teen) and Divergent series (which my 11-year-old is not yet allowed to read)
Always' #LikeaGirl ad, challenging stereotypes:
Colbie Caillat's hit single "Try" from Gypsy Heart:
Goldiblocks commercial which went viral during the Superbowl:
DOVE campaigns challenging our own worst critic:
and the DOVE campaign which began the anti-Photoshop revolution:
A Mighty Girl (with close to 600,000 FB likes) curating everyday heroism from global girls. This might be my new favorite source for great books, apparel, and daily articles about global girls making a difference.
A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans challenging the way Christians pick and choose from scripture what is cultural and what is literal in regards to women.
Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey painting a loving and gentle picture of the simple idea that Jesus loves and embraces women.
Reclaiming Eve by Suzanne Burden, Carla Sunberg, and Jamie Wright a primer on female/male partnership in the Kingdom of God.
Dare Mighty Things: Mapping the Challenges of Leadership for Christian Women by Halee Gray Scott, PhD a guidebook on the internal and external struggles women overcome to lead in various ministry settings.
And the wonderful writer's guild to which I belong, Redbud Writer's Guild, a group of vibrant Christ-followers who "value the feminine perspective too often silenced or dismissed in our world. We have a heart for women. Redbud desires to empower women to use their voices and recognize their influence."
Women. You thought I was talking about girl power, no? I think this sums it up marvelously... today I read Amy Julia Becker over at Christianity Today ponder gender confusion. It's an interesting article, but I was struck by the reflection from her sister growing up a tomboy:
"I thought there was something cool about being a boy—maybe not even just a boy, but a man, specifically the businessmen I saw walking down our street every day heading to the train station, briefcases in hand and nicely dressed in suits. I saw they had a purpose and must have recognized a level of success among them . . . The interesting thing for me in looking back on wanting to be a boy . . . is that I clearly was interested in success and a sense of strength."
I want my girls to be surrounded by enough strong and successful women (by which I mean women making a difference, living into their passion and loving their story, and seeking to steward their gifts well) that role models abound. They aspire to do anything because they see other females have as well. They never question if it is their place or if it is possible. Instead, they wonder if they want to, if God wants them to.
If that makes me a feminist, okay. I prefer to think it makes me like Lucretia.