The Question No Child Will Ever Ask After November 8th
“Mommy, why are you shopping for a suit? Ladies don’t wear business suits. Only men do.”
Two years ago, my then 8-year-old daughter uttered this innocent comment while we searched through racks of pantsuits at our local Macy’s.
Alarming thoughts whirled around in my head while I pondered the countless ways I had failed as a mother. Shoving away the image of Gloria Steinem shaking her head in shame, I calmly replied, “What do you mean? Plenty of women wear business suits.”
“Mommy, you don’t have any suits, but daddy wears suits to work every day.”
I launched into an overly complicated explanation and then listed all the mommies we knew who wore business suits to work. I couldn’t blame my daughter for her confusion. It was true, I didn’t own a single pantsuit.
Repeated exposures to concepts and images are how children develop an understanding of their world. Two years ago, my daughter had not seen enough women in pantsuits for that optic to seep into her ‘visual rolodex.’ Today, I highly doubt that is the case for most children in our country.
I can already hear the critics saying, Who cares? What difference does it make if children see women in pantsuits? This is hardly a reason to vote for someone. I agree, which is one reason why we didn’t see Sarah Palin become the first female Vice President in 2008.
Like it or not, a suit can still represent power, importance, professionalism, affluence, experience, education, and discipline. It pains me to think that my daughter may have subconsciously associated these adjectives exclusively with men. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has eradicated that false connotation for all present and future generations.
I know my little anecdote about shopping for a pantsuit with my daughter may seem like a negligible speck of dust on a vast globe during this critical election season. But just think for a moment about all the kids who’ve grown up in this country over the last 240 years. Now think about the images they’ve accumulated in their ‘visual rolodexes.’ Not one child has ever had the image of a real-life female United States President. I believe this is all about to change, and there’s nothing insignificant about it.
- I’ve already given a past disclaimer that I’m not overly political. I don’t believe this is an article about politics. Read here my thoughts on that and on this election.
- In case you’re wondering, I couldn’t find a pantsuit to fit my weird body, but I did come pretty close. Here’s some footage of me in my “wanabee pantsuit.” You better believe I made sure my daughter saw me wearing it!
Like what you just read? Check out my book: Does This Hospital Gown Come With Sequins?