In my mental rolodex are countless stories like these, stories of my own and stories of women I know, stories of women I don’t know but have encountered through memoirs and novels. These are the narratives of girls who are born extraordinary. They are the tales of women who have worked hard to become change agents and power brokers in our society—magical women, unicorns, and black girls who rock, every day, but are unable to see their greatness because, as a society, we have trained them that no matter how high they climb, their biggest accomplishment, their highest score, their best feat will always be a husband. And so, starting in childhood, we train them that their worth is attached to a man. We do this by either celebrating or turning our noses up at their fathers, a practice that unintentionally and sometimes intentionally remind young girls of their place. We condition them early that the men in their lives are the best indicators of their worth. This conditioning is an old practice, one that has survived centuries across societies. It’s a practice known to have disarmed and disabled goddesses and geniuses alike. It’s a practice that assigns infamy to little girls long before they are capable of being reprehensible or of committing detestable acts. Yet, it’s a practice. What’s worse is that women are often the gatekeepers of this tradition that serves to undermine ourselves and other women. We silently rate each, compare, elevating and dismissing each other not by the good we bring to the world but by the titles that announce our connection—and the degree of that connection—to a man: wife, baby mama, single mama, love child... Maybe we should stop. I can’t help but wonder if we got a new system, a new way of understanding, and calling out to one another, what could that do for families and nations, alike. Like, if we had more names for sister and magic and unicorn and beautiful...what could that really do for us?

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