The greatest gift my mother has ever given me was a love for books. As a little girl, she would often read to me; I didn’t realize it then, but those precious moments before bed would turn help me realize the importance and solidarity of girl power.
Long before I was interested in makeup or boys, I was fascinated with literature. It’s a running joke in my family that if I ever went missing I was most likely to be found tucked in a corner somewhere, too engrossed in a book to hear the cries for dinner.
My favorite stories growing up were those of heroes; I was never interested in tales of the damsel in distress, whose only purpose in a novel was to serve as the love interest for the male protagonist.
I idolized characters such as Hermione Granger from Harry Potter and Jo March from Little Women because instinctually, I saw myself in both of them. Brash, bookish, and opinionated, these characters were not princesses but game-changers in the novels they resided in.
I was dismayed that my fellow Americans chose a man who dismissed claims of sexual assault because he concluded the accusers were “too ugly.” Horrified, I read articles that spoke of the possibility of criminalizing abortion, of women losing the right in determining their own healthcare.
In the same year that saw the first female presidential candidate and a chance to break a 238-year-old glass ceiling, we met a man who had a well-documented history of mocking and degrading women. A man who still managed to receive 62 million votes, and claim the title of our future president.
Women did not receive the right to vote in the U.S. until 1920. For many, Roe vs. Wade is more recent memory than history; the landmark Supreme Court trial disallowing state restrictions on abortions did not occur until 1973.
We make 80 cents to a man’s dollar, and in some workplaces women are still penalized for maternity leave. Although women have increased their numbers in the 21st century, men still historically dominate STEM careers.
With the New Year comes with the promise of new changes. 2017 ushers in President-elect Trump, who many fear will doom the country to an unstable fate. But the time for fear is over; instead, it’s time for action.
In the face of seemingly menacing promises, women need to stand up for what they believe in and support their fellow women. We need to stand strong in the face of an administration that seemingly wants to suppress our voices; by electing an individual who so openly disrespected women in the past, his views are not likely to change anytime soon.
Most importantly, we need to educate our youth on the potential of girl power. The girls of tomorrow can be anything they want: a lawyer, doctor, or the first female president. One day, I hope to raise a daughter like my mom raised me; someone who’s passionate with a love of reading, who is inspired and encouraged to reach for their dreams.