I am a daughter of women’s liberation. I am the offspring of the generation who believed that women could do any thing they wanted to do, be anything they wanted to be and go any where they wanted to go.
So even if my mother stayed home part of my life and planned her career around our school hours, I had zero qualms about applying to Howard University, moving from St. Louis to D.C. and following my dream. My mother moved alone from Jamaica to the United States at age 18, attended nursing school and was independent for many years.
Most women I knew were on the same path as my sister and I; graduating from college, pursuing our careers and becoming successful. Even when got we married we fully expected to be co-breadwinners and not the kinds of chicks who set aside their goals while someone took care of them.
The kind of independent spirit women like us possessed was evident in the way we expressed our art, beauty, intelligence and athleticism. Examples of that spirit include Queen Latifah – rapper, actress, talk show host and CEO of Flavor Unit; Beverly Bond -founder of Black Girls Rock; Shonda Rhimes – creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal; Soledad O’Brien – broadcaster, mother, producer; and Rosalind Brewer, President and CEO of Sam’s Club. They are all are from the same era and have, in their own unique ways, blazed trails for other women.
But we are also the mothers, aunties, and big sisters of a generation of young women and girls who make and leak sex tapes, twerk and post their photos on apps that encourage boys and men to rate their looks.
Recently, a friend saw a photo of a sweet-looking girl about 14-years-old pop up on her teenage son’s phone, asking if she was hot or not. It’s too easy to blame it all on the media and rap videos. I’m going straight to he source. If the self-worth of our girls is dependent on the opinion of adolescent boys, we aren’t doing our jobs.
When parents do their part in helping build self-worth and self-esteem, there isn’t that much left for others to do…and that goes for our sons too. But if parents are too self-absorbed with their own looks and lives and are themselves twerking in front of their children, kids might get their values a little twisted. Many of the women getting butt injections and plastic surgery are moms and even grandmoms.
I haven’t done it yet, but I plan to check my friend about her son. He needs to know that if he’s ranking girls’ looks that he could be responsible for inflicting pain that he probably isn’t even aware of.
If we call ourselves powerful, successful, soulful sisters and sit idly by while this generation of young women and young men drown in superficiality, we’ll all be sinking together. Instead, let’s catch as many teenagers as we can before they fall in.