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The Power of Choice ♀
Boy, am I glad to be a woman.
Hello, my dearest Twenty-Somethings! I hope you all had a lovely International Women’s Day. Though, as we all know, every day is International Women’s Day.
This week, I’d like to share a note I got from my sweet great aunt who has been lovingly following along on my Dear Twenty-Somethings journey. It opened my eyes not only to my own privilege, but about how far women have come in such a short period of time. I hope it brings you all the love and light and feels it brought me:
Dear Quinn, I have enjoyed your Twenty-Somethings columns and wanted to share some thoughts with you. Your generation is very fortunate in that you can set your own goals and have a relatively good chance of achieving them. Women have come a long way and I just wanted to share some things that generations from my past had to endure. I graduated in 1959 from the Art Institute of Chicago with a B.A. in education. Why, you ask, did I choose education rather than other fields of art that I really enjoyed? The answer is simple. In those days, women were expected to be wives and mothers. If not, then they could be teachers, nurses, or secretaries. There was no expectation of could be, only should be. I married right after graduation and was working at a correspondence school grading art projects. I was asked what my religion was and if I intended to have children. I was then told if I became pregnant, I would have to leave the job. So many wonderful talents were not used by so many and it is wonderful to see the choices that young women have today. Thanks for encouraging all to be all that they can be without any guilt.
Damn! My 84-year-old great aunt reminded me that it really hasn’t been all that long since women joined the workforce—or even got the right to vote. While it can be frustrating to see women fighting many of the same battles as we were a century ago, the progress we have made is remarkable.
Since my great aunt graduated in 1959, women have gone from being expected to be stay-at-home-moms to, in 2017, nearly two-thirds—64.2 percent—of mothers were primary, sole, or co-breadwinners for their families. Financial independence is freedom, and our parents’ parents lived in an entirely different world. We love to see it!
Women have scaled military ranks, won Nobel Prizes, flown around the world, joined the Supreme Court, gone to space, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and ran for president, just to name a few achievements. And all of these were firsts. The glass ceilings have been shattered in so many industries over the last few decades, and (let’s hope!) there’s only up to go. The future is female, baby!
For us Twenty-Somethings, it’s a trip to think about how much has changed in our lifetime alone. My mom always told me I could do anything I set my mind to—and for Millennial and Gen Z women, this is mostly true. In my lifetime alone, a woman has won a major party’s presidential primary, another led the NASCAR Daytona 500—a male-dominated field by a long shot—while others became the head of the New York Stock Exchange, coached in the NBA and lie in state at the Capitol. Again, all firsts. And, of course, we elected the first ever woman, woman of color, and first South Asian person into the US second-in-command position: (Oakland’s own) Vice President Kamala Harris. Women are slated to make up 8.2 percent of CEOs in 2021; yes, it’s an abysmal number, but still more than there have ever been. If you’re looking for a little bit of good news, it’s all around you.
And still, in 2021, women in many states cannot abort fetuses from their own bodies, cannot take paid maternity leave, nor can we be guaranteed equal rights under the law. But for right now, even if just for a second, let’s bask in the beauty of what we have achieved. Where women have been, where we are going, and what barriers we will break for one another.
Of course, in recognizing the growth and achievements of the women before me, I have to acknowledge my privilege as a white woman who grew up in an upper-middle class family. A couple years ago, as an Ethnic Studies-Journalism student and head of my university newspaper, I wrote a little more in-depth about my privilege; check it out here.
My great aunt asked me to request one other thing of you: If you have the privilege of having living mothers, grandmothers, great-aunts, or even great-grandmothers—talk to them. Many of them have seen women gain rights, achievements and positions they thought were once unattainable. And in our lifetime, I can only imagine how much more we will accomplish. I hope this newsletter serves as a time capsule for this point in history.
True femininity is power, ladies.
(And in case you missed it, I also wrote about my great aunt’s note for Working Mother here.) With that, here are a few picks to get you through the week:
“Go Gina” by SZA - All of today’s songs are about women empowerment, baby! This is one of my forever-go-tos. I belong to nobody!
“Grapefruit” by Almondmilkhunni - In honor of spring’s emergence in NYC, boogie to this one for me please. A little funky, a little pop, a little R&B; she’s a fav of mine for sure.
“Man Smart, Woman Smarter” by the Grateful Dead - OK, this song is originally by Harry Belafonte, but the Dead version transports me back to my childhood. True, relatable content.
The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay - This is a great self-help book about your twenties, what it’s OK to be doing, and how to get where you want to be. (My biggest takeaway: Your twenties are the only time it’s OK to be under-employed.)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson - My all-time favorite book series! Talk about women empowerment. Lisbeth Salander is an icon; if you haven’t read these page-turners, get to it!
Wired: “How to Tell Which Emails Quietly Track You” - Yes, my dad sent me this, but great info in an age of super-surveillance.
HBO’s Class Action Park - It’s absolutely unbelievable what this New Jersey amusement park got away with back in the ‘80s. A different time, indeed. This in-depth documentary follows an entirely unsafe, reckless, and unruly time in a seemingly carefree era. Really heartbreaking stuff here, but it also… Looks fun?
HBO’s The Flight Attendant - So, Kaley Cuoco’s character is pretty annoying, but this series is worth the hype. Did she kill her passenger in a drunken blackout? If not her, then who did? All the plot twists and suspense I look for in a show.
Yoga with Adriene | Yoga Stretch - Detox from the two programs above with this easy, breezy 20-minute flow. It’s like a big glass of ice water. Thank me later.
Quiet Please Ear Plugs - Kind of a dramatic pick, but I swear by these if you live in a noisy neighborhood. Comfy, cushiony, feel like nothing. Sleep well!
GoSili Silicone Straw Cup - Is it just me, or do drinks taste better in silicone? I like sipping my smoothies, iced coffee or tea through this big, easy-to-wash cup.
BootayBag - In all honesty, I probably got suckered into this via an Instagram ad. This subscription service sends you two pairs of undies (of your desired style) per month for only $15. Pretty good deal, plus they’re super cute.
Crispy Fried Tofu - This is one of my fav sources of protein, either with rice, on noodles, in stir fries, or on it’s own with some honey-soy-sesame-vinegar concoction. Enjoy!
Thai Peanut Sauce - Go ahead and put this right on top of the crispy tofu. Yummmmmm.
“legacy” by Rupi Kaur
on the sacrifices
of a million women before me
what can i do
to make this mountain taller
so the women after me
can see farther
Question of the week: What makes you most proud of yourself?
I want to thank each and every one of you for supporting me and my beloved passion project, Dear Twenty-Somethings. It means more to me than you’ll ever know. I’m always looking to improve my work, so leave a comment or send me a message about what you want to read about in the next newsletter! I’m all ears.
If you liked what you read, send this newsletter to a friend! Heck, send it to 10 friends! Sending love and light to you, wherever you are. 🌟
Cheers & happy Wednesday! And, of course, happy March, i.e., Women’s History Month! See y’all next week.
xoxoxo, Quinnie <3