This is not me writing as a Democrat or Republican. I want to get that straight right now. I don’t want this to be a political post. This is me writing as a father of two very bright and wonderful young girls who will one day grow up to be amazing young women, realizing that they might just be walking a little more confidently into a slightly more equal world.
I have three children. Aspen is 6, and Norah is 11. My son, Tristan, is 13. And while Kamala Harris is not president of the U.S., and the fact that we have never had a female U.S. president is just, well, depressing, she is the first female vice president. That is huge for me as a father of daughters, and I’ll tell you why.
As a father, I want my daughters to realize that anything is possible. I want to show them that they can hold as much power as any man, and yet, it’s hard to do that when there is nothing but a string of male faces in both the presidential and vice presidential lineups. I want them to feel enabled and emboldened to progress and dream and achieve. I want them to grow up in a world where the sky’s the limit and there isn’t a glass ceiling blocking women from achieving true equality.
I want my girls to believe that they can do anything they set their mind to, but that can be difficult in a world of disproportionate pay for women and predominantly male leadership.
I want my daughters to go through life knowing that the world is an equal playing field and to feel confident that a woman can design a rocket ship, be a CEO, or hold one of the highest political positions in the United States of America. And this year, Kamala Harris gave my daughters a pretty huge example. She gave me the opportunity to say, “Look here, she did, so can you.” And frankly, that is pretty amazing.
As for my son, well … he’s 13, and I want him to be able to see that women belong in positions of power. I want him to grow up knowing that he has as much of an obligation to support his partner’s profession as she has an obligation to support him. I want him to realize that women deserve an equal seat at the table, with equal pay, and equal privilege. And regardless of what a woman decides to be — whether a stay-at-home mom or the next president — her dreams and aspirations carry equal weight, because they have equal value. And in his future career, I want him to know that the women he works with deserve equal pay, opportunities, and respect.
It is 2020, and the fact that I haven’t been able to point to a president or vice president, and say, “Girls, that could be you someday,” is just sad. Because here are the facts: Women are educated, and driven, and capable. They are equally able to contribute to the conversation as men, and as a father of daughters, I need my girls to be able to see that in practice. Electing a female vice president gave me that example.
To be honest, I’m a white male, and I don’t know what it feels like to look at the faces of previous presidents, governors, judges, and not see a face that looks like mine. I don’t know what it feels like to see something as unachievable, and I hate the fact that my daughters are not able to share in that privilege.
I can’t help but look at my daughters, and see anything but hope, intelligence, compassion, drive, and aspiration. I know that if given a fair and equal shot at the world, they are going to do some amazing, wonderful and passionate things. But they are going to have a hell of a time doing that as long as the glass ceiling is in the way.
The day after Joe Biden was named as the presumptive president elect, my social media was filled with pictures of broken glass. It had nothing to do with Joe Biden, and everything to do with Kamala Harris. And you know what? It was awesome. It caused me to look at my little girls and feel so very hopeful. It made me realize that right then, a gear moved — the U.S. shifted ever so slightly towards true equality — and I couldn’t help but pump my fist.
So regardless of your political affiliations, regardless of how you feel about the election, here is a very real truth: Kamala Harris being elected as Vice President gave me the ability to put my arm around my son and say, “Women are just as capable of leadership as you. You need to respect that.” And for my daughters, it gave me the opportunity to point and say, “She did it. So can you.”