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How to Teach Our Daughters That They Can Become President

What It Means When Your Kids Say a Girl Can't Be President

The other day my daughter came home from camp right before school started. She's 5 years old and just started kindergarten. The last thing I expected was for her to start talking about the presidential candidates; however, there were older kids in camp and so perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised.

"The kids were chanting, "We hate Trump! We hate Trump!'" she reenacted.

I stopped for a second and collected myself to ask her if she knew who Donald Trump was.

"Of course," she said, "He's the guy with the blond white hair."

So in my 5-year-old's mind, she knows who Trump is. She didn't say why these kids "hated" Trump, but my guess was that the kids were hearing this from their parents. After all, our parents are the first people to pass down values to us on everything from religion to politics.

I explained to her that he, along with Hillary Clinton, are our presidential candidates running to become our very next president. I did this in the simplest of language, of course.

Then she told me with a distraught face, "Some of the kids say a girl can't be president. They say the girl shouldn't be president."

I asked her if she thought that was true, and proud parent here, she said of course not!

In total truth, I will not be voting for Trump come Election Day. While I have found faults in Hillary, I still will be voting for her and I would be lying if I didn't say right out that the idea of having a female president moves me in many ways. I spent a lot of time studying early feminist texts and literature. I remember full well that women fought for the right to vote. I remember my mother, a Democrat, believer in workers' rights and outspoken liberal, sharing with me all of the feminist values I embody today.

So when my daughter told me with her saddened face that her campmates don't believe a woman can be president, it reminded me how far women and how far girls like my daughter will still have to go to ever even "touch" that glass ceiling.

And truly, it's not the children who believe a "girl can't be president," but their parents. And as their parents share this rhetoric and dialogue with their children, how does it then impact the little girls like my daughter? How does it impact their own daughters, nieces, and female cousins?

The parents of my generation and younger — and slightly older — may not feel women are not capable to lead a country, although CBS News said that "four out of five voters say the US is ready to elect a woman for president" and that "76 percent of women and two-thirds of men hope to see a woman in office."

That's a pretty good number. That's promising for women.

But there will always be people that will resist the concept of a woman as president because of their sensitive desires to keep masculine privilege alive. It doesn't matter that women's roles have changed drastically from the days in which we "labored" on the home front and not in the office. It doesn't matter that according to the United States Department of Labor, "Women are projected to account for 51 percent of the increase in total labor force growth between 2008 and 2018."

We work hard, we grow our economy, many of us bare children, and yet still we are seen as incapable leaders, too soft or too emotional or too "shrill."

Yes, too shrill. Fox News's Brit Hume complained about Hillary Clinton's voice while Steve Clemons from The Atlantic said she "lectured too much" and apparently didn't smile enough.

No matter how hard we work or how hard we try, for some people, it will never be enough.

But the problem lies in not the criticism of Hillary, but that these same criticisms and values will be passed on to other little girls and then our daughters will have to bare the weight of these stereotypes and sexist prejudices. It doesn't matter if you love or hate Hillary Clinton. As women and as mothers, as daughters and little girls, these same judgments will be passed on to us and them.

When my daughter told me about what her fellow campers had to say, it reminded me that my daughter, your daughter, and our daughters still have a long way to go before we can even graze that mythical glass ceiling.

And it makes me sad, but still I have hope.

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