I was raised to believe that I could do whatever I wanted and be whoever I wanted to be. I would play with the boys outside while wearing white ruffled socks, a dress, and a coordinating hair bow, and go back inside spotless. My grandmother taught me to write thank you cards for everything and to always mind my manners. Today, my friends say if there was a talking doll version of me it would say, “No I’m okay but thank you.” FFL has a shirt that says, “There are some things money cannot buy like manners, morals, and intelligence,” all three being qualities I live my life by. But guess what? In my experience, being a proper young lady with traditional values has received some ridicule and judgment from other women, which begs this question: when did having manners and morals become a bad thing?
I am not a perfect human. I frequently make mistakes, but I also try every day to make my family proud. Women every day are setting higher standards and examples for each other. I often tell my two little sisters that they do not have to be the best in everything they do, but they have to at least try their best. I am also here to remind them to hold open the door for people, always use their pleases and thank yous, and to always be their best self. And guess what? That does not make me anti-feminist, and in no way does that statement suppress women’s rights. I would never in a million years tell my sisters that they can’t do something. I encourage them to be the next Abby Wambach, and to strive to go to any college in the country (Yale is on my 12 year old sister’s short list). But, on their journey, I will act as a gentle reminder to never forget that ma’am and sir will get you further than you think.
Before I began writing for FFL, I was a huge fan of the articles and the young women who wrote them. One of our writers, Danielle, had a Twitter bio that caught my attention; it said, “I can’t explain why I don’t need feminism, I’m too busy succeeding without it.” Danielle had captured in one sentence what I was trying to say this entire time. I do not need the movement of feminism to move up in a career: I have my own accomplishments which will speak for themselves. I believe that this, having manners, and sticking to our morals are all that we, as 21st century women, need to be not only our best selves, but also to set an example for future young women.