The Women You Left Behind


I am your daughter, your niece, your goddaughter, and your second cousin. I am the young adult, stumbling ungracefully into the real world. And I am realizing that between all the encouragement you gave me when I scored a goal in club soccer or brought home a paper with a gleaming red A+ or received those college acceptance letters, you’ve suddenly changed your mind.

Now, I am selfish and entitled and lazy. You have pushed me into the corner with the scraps, just as I entered into the adult realm where no one is better than the people they know. Degrees, internships, and carefully calculated scores don’t matter, but a last name can get your foot in the door. I am still outside, and you have told me that I dream too big. If there is anything you learn from me, it will be to stop. Stop calling me self-entitled. Stop blaming societal problems on my mentality. Stop forcing more responsibilities on my shoulders because you don’t care to take them yourself. Stop rejecting the humans you created.

I am a female in the 21st century and my reproductive organs are constantly being debated by politicians and the general population. I am restricted about decisions concerning my own health, even though I have the power to bring life into this world. There are still a lot of people who believe that child-rearing is my only contribution to the world.

I am a female in the 21st century and there is too much expected of me. I should be sage and sweet, but confident and smart. I should be skinny enough to fit into pretty clothes, but have enough meat on my bones that I am not ridiculed for succumbing to society’s pressures. I should be pleasant and helpful always, and if I overstep my boundaries, I am a bitch.

I am a female in the 21st century, and I am still earning less than 80 cents for every dollar a male makes. I am still being held back because of the way I was raised to accept things as they are and to think it impolite to ask for more than I have. I was taught to be gracious and passive, but I am expected to compete with aggressive men.

I am a female in the 21st century and I will not stand to be called names by the generation that raised me to be as I am. I will not stand to dream smaller merely because there are too many of us with high hopes. I will not change my mind like you so conveniently changed yours.

And I will prove you wrong.

image – Gianni Cumbo