I hope that you know you are loved. And that all the love bestowed upon you will outweigh the indignant burdens placed on you from the moment you are declared a daughter, and not a son.
I hope you know that if a boy does something mean to you, it’s inexcusable regardless of if he “likes you.” I hope you know that even in “harmful” adolescent play you have a right to feel safe and like your body belongs to you, regardless of what anyone tells you. I hope you know that if anyone touches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, you know it’s okay to speak up, and you use your voice. “Good girls” don’t have to keep quiet and play nice. You are not a pretty little doll on a shelf for other people to admire, you are the ocean; beautiful, vast, unwavering in kissing the shores of your ambitions.
I hope that when you cry you know that you are not weak or just “being a girl.” I hope you don’t come to believe that a lack of tears makes you strong, and that the people who choose not to feel are any better off. I hope that when something stirs in you, you honor it. When the time comes that you are thrust into the evils of the world with no warning, I hope that you have the courage to acknowledge the madness, and know that it is normal to feel dismay at the unjust chaos of the universe. No, it’s not because you have your period.
I hope that the first time someone makes a negative comment about your appearance, you don’t remember it well into your mid 20’s, or forever. Because I hope you know that your appearance is only a fraction of your being as a woman. I hope you never feel like you’re a prisoner in your own skin in a system that was rigged from the start: none of us were ever really meant to win.
I hope the first time a man yells something at you out of car window and you feel your blood turn to hot lead in terror and violation, that you don’t believe you deserve it. You’re allowed to walk home from school without feeling threatened by strangers; your right to feel safe is more important than their need to comment crudely about your appearance. I suspect you’ll be about eleven or twelve at this time, and I hope that your shoulders don’t slump and arch with the weight of the cross you never asked to bear.
I hope that when you’re walking down the street and someone tells you “you’d look much prettier if you smiled,” that you tell them to go fuck right off. You have my permission on that one.
I hope that someday if your partner makes a joke at your expense you turn your head in contemplation and look them straight in the eyes and say, “that’s not funny.” I hope you know that you don’t have to pretend boys are funny if you don’t think they really are. I hope you know that you’re probably pretty funny yourself, even if there are men that just insist woman comedians hardly ever are.
I hope that you always know that “no,” is a complete sentence.
I hope the first time a man harasses you on the internet you know you don’t deserve it. I hope you know that if the term “feminazi” still exists and is used against you for standing up for yourself, that anyone who has the audacity to combine woman’s rights with one of the most horrific genocides in recent history is not someone who’s opinion you should ever consider. I hope you know that if a boy from your high school asks you for a blow job over social media, his mother would probably be mortified. And so should you, because you don’t exist to pleasure men. I hope you never feel like that is your purpose no matter how frequently that message is shoved down your throat.
I hope that the first time a man talks over you in class you say, “I wasn’t finished speaking.” I hope his face turns bright red.
I hope when someday I drop you off at college and we pass banners hanging from the fraternity house windows that say, “Freshman Daughter Daycare” that somehow, you can manage to feel safe and at home. I won’t blame you at all if you don’t.
I hope that if one day you’ve had too much to drink, and the room becomes fuzzy and the furniture is spinning and the nausea begins to creep up into your throat and you feel his unfamiliar hands on your body, that you know that doesn’t give anyone the excuse to take advantage of you. I hope and pray when that happens that you are not alone, but I hope more that I don’t have to rely on the hypocrisy of telling my daughter how to stay safe in a world that doesn’t tell men not to rape. I hope you too, can see how fucked up that is.
I hope if a man ever lays a hand on you, that you know to run hard, long, and fast away from him. I hope you can see the signs of emotional and physical abuse in any relationship when they arise, but if you don’t, I hope when you hear “why didn’t you just leave,” you don’t feel the weight of the world caving in your chest. I hope you don’t, but I’m sure you will.
I hope you never feel that you are a statistic, that your worth isn’t made up in numbers, your weight, your height, the amount of people you’ve slept with. I hope when you hear “not all men,” you repress the urge to commit homicide, since you’ll undoubtedly do more time for that than rape, anyway. I hope that the potential of the life you can have isn’t thwarted by a world that allows injustice against woman at an infinite degree.
I hope that when I tell you all these things, you truly hear them. I hope that you stay vibrant, stay passionate, and stay angry. I hope you never accept that you are less than. I hope that you are steadfast in that you are already whole on your own, and that you always will be.
Hope is all I have.