While completing a 5k this weekend alongside my mom, I witnessed a conversation between her and another woman. As I listened, I welled up with pride about the possibilities my daughter has, coming of age in an America that is a bit more equal than it has been.
When my mom does a 5k race, she does so in a combination of walking and running. I decided I'd do the same with her. As we made it around the pond somewhere during the second mile, we began to pull up near a woman who appeared to be about 20 years older than my mom. As we did, the older woman began to speak to us, telling us she was glad she came out on such a cold day, that she was looking to finish in her normal time, and that there was only one more hill.
My mom acknowledged her comments and also noted the fact that several girls were out running and walking as part of the Girls on the Run program. The older woman said that she was impressed and inspired by these girls, being active so young in life, something she wished she'd done sooner. What my mom then said was so simple, yet so shattering:
"Back in our day, girls weren't supposed to run."
She was right - just ask the old lady. Girls weren't supposed to do a lot of things when my mom was 10. And 15. And 25. Same goes for our running companion. The same will be true for my daughter, although people like my mom and girls like those running are working to change that.
I'm looking forward to raising a daughter for a lot of reasons, perhaps none more so than the chance to let her know that her gender does not limit who she wants to be and what she wants to do. There will be many societal structures in place to tell her the contrary; the last place she needs to have limits placed on her dreams is at home.
This is why I find many strands of Christianity (and other faiths) unacceptable. Sure, it's part of a great woven tapestry of faith, but certain denominations do not speak for me. It's why I find certain readings of the Bible unbelievable and certain interpretations of Christianity incompatible with our world today. If you refuse to accept my daughter into your ranks of leadership and involvement on account of her not having a penis, then you can count me out, too.
Of course, my daughter may choose a home in one of these faiths. She may be more conservative than her parents. We may one day vote very differently and not see eye-to-eye on issues like abortion, religion, or politics. But I'll be okay with that - at least she'll have the choice of what she thinks and does.
And that's the point of people like my mom, the older woman we met Saturday, and the Girls on the Run. Women have the option of what they want to do - of what they're "supposed" to do. By not giving me (or my daughter) a choice, then you're making the choice for us.