Yesterday I celebrated another turn around the sun. Not a milestone birthday by any means. But birthdays are one of the few times I gleefully embrace my “youngest child…it’s all about me!” birth order stereotype, celebrating in big ways and small the whole month. Which means that I can also usually be found indulging in a little more self-reflection/absorption as the days transition from summer to fall. This year proved no different. Here is one of the things I’ve been thinking about:
Not too long ago I stumbled upon a Facebook group/profile called “A Mighty Girl“. (Find them on the web here as well.) Per their Facebook page: “A Mighty Girl is the world’s largest collection of books, movies, and music for parents, teachers, and others dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls.” Growing up in a family of military and law enforcement men AND women, I never really experienced or heard a lot of “girls do x, and boys do y”. I did what I did best, which was read and nerd it up. My brother did his thing, which usually involved taking something apart to see how it worked…and then moving on. And for the most part, we were encouraged in that. Typical? Well it was my normal and because of it, I think as a young woman I never really understood or identified with women who would “harp” on the inequalities that our gender experienced in relation to men. I felt like my parents managed to empower me in a way that, at the very least, I would never serve as my own limiting-factor vis a vis my gender and how I thought about myself in relation to it.
Fast forward many moons and I find myself more regularly questioning the lack of women in the positions of leadership around me, and the impact that this has had- or has- on my life and my own ability to become a leader. I guess life experiences, in particular those stemming from the building of a career, have caused me to probe this reality a little more deeply. Perhaps that’s why A Mighty Girl drew my attention when it did.
And what caught my eye about their posts? Well it was the books of course! One of the very first posts I saw was about some amazing book they were recommending for children. As you can guess, any friend of a book is a friend of mine! Many of the books they have recommended are indeed, old, old friends of mine. For instance: The uplifting and poignant tales of Anne of Green Gables. The compelling stories of Jane Austen. (My favorite is Emma…arguably one of Austen’s most independent heroines insomuch as she wasn’t also poverty-stricken and reliant on a rich hero to fall in love with.) The nerdy but somewhat average heroine Claire, in Rachel Caine’s Morganville series. Quite astonishing to come to the realization that many of my favorite books and stories were either written by women or about women.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more it makes perfect sense for a girl like me to be drawn to these stories, out of the many books I read and continue to read. They most closely align with the story I saw being written each day by the women in my own family. I guess that’s also why, as I find myself in situations where I am called to question the equitable distribution of power, I am drawn back once again to stories that help rekindle my “Mighty Girl” flame.