As part of our month-wide celebration of women’s writing, 4th Estate will be bringing you exclusive written pieces from our fantastic authors. We presented them with a selection of questions to choose from, and the responses we’ve had have been hugely inspiring. We can’t wait to share them all with you.
Today we bring you the words of Valeria Luiselli, author of Tell Me How It Ends.
What does it mean to be a woman in 2018?
I had a parent-teacher meeting with my daughter’s 2nd grade teacher this week. We went over the usual: her progress in writing and reading, her love for experimental art projects and birdwatching, her weird-object collecting (sometimes more like hoarding, in my view), her over-the-top admiration for Laurie Anderson, as well as her emotional stalemates with most maths problems. All as expected.
Toward the end of the meeting, though, her teacher told me that for the past months my daughter had been asking her if she was planning to include the #MeToo Movement in their social studies syllabus. I was not aware that my daughter was aware-enough of this discussion to actually ask her teacher to include it in a syllabus. Her teacher and I must be around the same age. We confessed to each other –with a bit of shame, no doubt– that when we were in second grade, we were reading things like the Sweet Valley High and the Babysitter’s Club series, and certainly not at all concerned with feminism, women’s rights, abuse of power, or sexual harassment.
It angers me that my generation arrived so late to this discussion. Or rather, that it’s still a discussion now, in 2018, and not one that ended 20 years ago. Or 200 years ago. But it also makes me proud, and relieved, and so deeply fucking hopeful that I get to see my daughter –while I am still in my early thirties and she is just eight years old– demand and insist on discussing women’s rights in her 2nd grade classroom. Her teacher promised me to have a talk with the school principal, and figure out a way to include the discussion in the syllabus.
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