Things I Want To Change Before My Daughter Is Old Enough To Notice

This originally appeared on Eat The Damn Cake. Republished here with permission.

I want it to sound weird that gay people weren’t allowed to get married; I want women to not feel guilty for eating; and I want being nerdy to be a real option.

I want more movies and TV shows to have female protagonists even when they aren’t about “girly stuff.”

I want the way coolness works to stop being about not being sensitive. Sensitivity and vulnerability are healthy, crucial aspects of being a fully operating person. Without them, we miss out on the things that make poetry timeless and life rich. Making fun of ourselves and other people is not necessarily a bad thing, but there needs to be plenty of room for caring automatically and whole-heartedly and even just a little about stuff, too. Or maybe we can just all care less about being cool?

I want it to be a lot harder to find gross photos on the Internet. I feel like we should all be able to google without running into graphically documented surgical procedures and abused animals and car crashes and unusual, dramatic skin conditions.

I would also appreciate it if there weren’t so very many photos of sexy mostly/totally naked women online and everywhere else. And if those women didn’t all look so particularly similar that it feels easy to assume that there must only be one good way to be a mostly/totally naked woman.

I want there to be more swimsuit options. Why do they all demand that I pay a lot of attention to what my pubic hair is doing? Mandatory bikini waxing is ridiculous. If we can’t get over the fact that adult women have pubic hair, let’s at least wear swim trunks.

I want porn to actually be varied. I keep reading about how it is. Whenever someone writes an article about porn, they’re always like “you can find any crazy thing out there! If there’s a fantasy, there’s a video of it on the Internet!” But the reality is that most of the readily accessible porn is endless repetition of the same themes, and popular among those themes is total female submission and, often, humiliation. Yes, some women like to be humiliated, but that’s not the point. We need a lot more versions of female sexuality, and it’d be much better if they popped up, too, upon a casual googling.

I want girls to be able to run around and study and make friends and play and goof off and think and look in the mirror without having to prioritize their appearance. Being embodied is about a lot of stuff, not just the way we look. I want girls to enjoy their bodies without having to think first about whether or not other people find them attractive.

I want this for women, too, but it starts with girls.

I want articles about accomplished women to be about those individuals, and not have to say things like “as a woman in this particular industry…” The articles about accomplished men tend not to mention their maleness and how that impacts their lives and careers. It’d be cool if we could celebrate individual women without everything they do having to be about womankind. It puts a lot of pressure on individuals to have to represent all of womankind.

It also makes it sound like it’s slightly unusual for women to be accomplished. I don’t want it to feel even slightly unusual for women to be accomplished.

I also don’t want “accomplished” to necessarily mean “running a huge company.” We need more definitions of success and more women populating them.

I don’t want freedom of speech to get lost in a sea of people saying really cruel things to each other just because they can. I want being kind to be just as culturally important.

I also want it to be OK to ask big, awkward questions that will always offend someone/most people. Offending people by challenging the norm is crucially different than being purposefully mean.

I want there to be more regular, inexpensive occasions to wear a gorgeous evening gown.

I don’t want teenaged years to be all about getting into college.

I don’t want college to feel absolutely critical. I don’t want it to determine anyone’s fate.

If it feels critical to individuals, I want it to actually be affordable for them, too.

I don’t want adulthood to seem scary and boring. I want it to seem open-ended and exciting.

I want there to be plenty of truly good jobs.

I want cake pops to be more of a thing.

I want the world to feel big and accessible. I want it to be accessible.

I want everyone to have basic rights and even a few rights beyond that. I want it to sound weird that gay people weren’t allowed to get married. I want that to sound like it must’ve been a long, long time ago, when everyone was unenlightened and all of the girls and women wore skinny jeans almost exclusively and all of the senators looked the same.

I want people to stop reflexively hating other people without knowing anything real about them. It’s a terrible habit. I’m sure it makes tons of sense when seen this way and that way, and through the lens of centuries of careful anthropological observation. But it’s the worst thing. And I wish I could raise my daughter in a world that wasn’t poisoned by it.

I want there to be more bra options that aren’t padded push-up bras. Where did all of the other kinds of bras go? I miss them. I am wearing one of the last of them, every day, and it looks sad and lonely now, and also significantly past retirement age. “Please,” it begs me with its tattered, yellowing lace, “let me go.”

I want there to be fewer commercials. And I want the commercials starring women to be less about low fat yogurt and Swiffer and shampoo and indulging in the occasional tiny, tiny chocolate after you’ve shopped for all of your family’s holiday gifts and more about the rest of the things people do. Because the commercials for women often suggest that women are generally feeling guilty about something (eating too much fat, having a messy house, not having smooth enough hair, trying to do “it all” but failing) and just need to chill out a little. Maybe we don’t feel guilty, though. Maybe we’re already eating a giant chocolate bar and we’re not buying anyone gifts this year and we’re just trying to watch a dumb cop show, damnit, so stop telling us we’re probably feeling bad about ourselves and let us get back to it!

I want the language of women eating food to change, so that we’re not constantly reciting apologies and disclaimers and little self-effacing jokes whenever we pick up a fork. I am sometimes totally guilty of this. But really, let’s just eat.

I want the “mommy wars” to go away. They’re not real, as far as I can tell from the ground. I’m standing in the field, but there’s no battle. Just a bunch of different strollers with similarly complicated folding mechanisms. Whatever it is that I am doing as a mother and with the other parts of my life when Eden is old enough to notice my life, as long as I’m not hurting anyone, I hope people will treat my choices with respect.

I want being smart to always be a good thing.

I want being smart to always be about more than getting good grades.

I want nerdiness to be a real option for girls, too.

I want those 20-something women who walk down the street in clusters of three to explain how they all came to be wearing the exact same shoes. I see this all the time, and I’m really curious. Do they always go shopping together and pick them out? Are they only friends with people who already own the same shoes as them? Are they just subconsciously drawn to one another because their style is similar enough to suggest compatible mindsets? WHAT IS THE ANSWER?

I want “women’s magazines” to mean things other than “Weight loss! Sex tips! Celebs!”

I want it to feel safe to be a woman occasionally alone outside at night.

I want it to be safe to be a girl, anywhere in the world.

Kate Fridkis blogs at Eat the Damn Cake. Her new book about her pregnancy is now available. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Salon, Tablet, and many more. She lives in Brooklyn, where it’s not totally weird to be as obsessed with sandwiches as she is. You can follow her on Twitter here.

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