Molly likes to dress as Rosie the Riveter on spirit days at school. For one thing, the costume is easy. For another, it reflects her passion for gender equality and, lastly, it gives her a reason to wear bright red lipstick and a matching red bow.
Last year, she and her friend Ella launched a Gender Equality Club at Appleton North High School.
An essay she wrote explains her passion for the cause.
“Just as there is no male equivalent to bitch or ho, there is no male equivalent to ditz, or dumb-blond. It’s just harder to call a boy dumb than it is a girl,” she wrote. “Gender issues are easy to ignore. If an article keeps ping ponging across your news-feed, you can simply scroll past it. If a video circles through Tumblr, you don’t have to watch it. If you don’t see it happen, it doesn’t.”
More than 60 students showed up for the Gender Equality Club’s first meeting and it has only picked up steam since then. The club hosts provocative discussions, like one on gender equality in religion that featured dual presentations by a Hindu high school student and an octogenarian Catholic nun.
Because she pays such close attention to these issues, Molly, who dressed as Gloria Steinem for Halloween last year, immediately brought the now famously unfortunate comments by Ms. Steinem and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright to my attention prior to them showing up all over every single social media account I monitor.
Steinem suggested that young female voters were supporting Bernie Sanders because “when you’re young you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys?’ and the boys are with Bernie.” Meanwhile, at a Clinton rally, Albright suggested there was a special place in hell for women who didn’t support Hillary.
As off-putting as the comments were, their implication that women owed Hillary Clinton their vote merely by virtue of their shared gender did trigger great conversations, much like the one between my daughter and me.
We discussed the role gender plays in politics. I told her I even disagreed with Madame Secretary Albright’s later explanation of her “special place in hell” remark, in which she called the election of a female president “previously inconceivable.”
But I was born in 1964, I told Molly, and I never, ever found the notion of a female president inconceivable.
Molly turns 18 in August and is very anxious to cast that first ballot. I’m thrilled that she’ll be able to vet candidates according to her own standards, and vote her scruples not her sex.