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To My Daughter’s High School

1101

Career, student, school.

My daughter’s all-girl high school recently had a screening of the film Escalation hosted by the One Love Foundation, an educational effort directed at “relationship violence,” or domestic violence, or intimate partner violence. The film portrays a romantic relationship between two college students as it moves from the rush of euphoria to manipulation, control, intimidation, and ultimately physical brutality. I applaud the decision of the Administration to make time in the school day for discussion of gender violence, especially with college sexual assault so much in the news, as it will touch all our children in some way, even if indirectly.  As important as this subject is, I wish the school would see fit to educate its young women in other, even more pervasive aspects of gender disparity they will face.  That’s what prompted my letter below.

To the Administration:

I was very pleased that the Escalation movie was presented this week. I heard from my daughter that it sparked meaningful discussions, and then everyone moved on with their day.

I feel very strongly that the school has an obligation to include in its mission other stark realities the girls will encounter after graduation. Intimate partner violence is a part of this, but there is considerably more relevant information they must have to be adequately prepared to take their place in the world, leverage their education and make the most of their innate talents and abilities.

The salient points to my mind  are the following:

Aside from paid employment, our daughters can expect to do the lion’s share of unpaid domestic labor. Even though women earn more degrees than men at every level, “traditional” women’s work that will be uncompensated, and doesn’t even figure in our national metrics of economic productivity, will consume a significant amount of their time. “Over a lifetime, the average American woman will spend about 40,000 more hours cleaning, cooking, and caring for children than the average American man.

Such is the state of our society in which they will soon take their place. It troubles me that they have been taught they will be rewarded on their merits. When they fail to achieve it, through no fault of their own, they will assume their shortcomings are the cause.  They will not look for the institutionalized sexism so deeply embedded in our  public and private institutions. It will remain largely invisible to them, as it is now.  And remaining ignorant, the cycle will repeat with their own daughters. As it threatens to do with mine.

“Education” by definition is the bringing out, or leading forth, through inquiry and critical analysis. Surely the students should be led to the truth. The truth is that the gender will impact their lives as much or more than their  particular attributes and abilities.  They ought to know that before they walk right into it.

Thank you both for all you do – and I know it is a very great  deal – for my daughter, her classmates, and all the student body.

Signed, A Feminist Mother

‘Til next time, 

Your (Wo)Man in Washington