A Letter to My Son on Women’s Equality Day

My Dearest Son,

I should have known when you were born on July 4, that you would be a firecracker! Your explosive personality is one of the best parts of you. It’s what makes you so special. Sure, it comes with its challenges – like when you want to argue with us about literally everything – but it also fuels your creativity, your passion for the things you love, and your strong sense of justice and making sure everyone does the right thing, including yourself.

It’s that fire you have that will lead to greatness someday. I will never forget what your teacher said at your kindergarten graduation: “You always want what is right for everyone, and you will be an activist someday.” That moment, through my streaming tears, I felt an incredible swell of pride for you and the amazing person that you are.

Your activist heart will be needed, my love. Our world is going through tough times and getting more difficult by the minute. We need men like you, who are outspoken leaders who are committed to justice, but choose to lead with empathy, sensitivity and kindness. Men who understand the necessity of advocating for communities that continue to be oppressed by patriarchy. Men who defy society’s definition of what it means to be a man because they know the concept of masculinity is multifaceted and the one presented to us most often is toxic and dangerous.

Because you are a man, you will receive opportunities that are denied to your sister. As a girl, she already has fewer rights than you do. There will always be those who try to limit her choices – from what she can wear to school to what area of study she may want to pursue to medical decisions she may want to make for her own body. For her, and all the others like her, you must light that fire and fight with her. Not because she needs you to, but because you know you have to.

When you hear them call her bossy, remind her that she is confident and assertive.

When they say she’s too picky, validate her opinion and tell her she must never lower her standards.

When they accuse her of being emotional, assure her that empathy is at the heart of our humanity.

When they describe her as small, celebrate her big personality, her intelligence, and her capacity to love.

When they say she has RBF, tell her that she doesn’t owe it to anyone to smile if she doesn’t feel like it.

And when they tell her, “you can’t do it,” encourage her to “DO IT.”

Courtesy of SmallBirds Photography/Erin Parrett

I hope that when you and your sister are grown, your world will look very different from the one we live in now. While you’re still young, your dad and I are fighting the fight to try and create a better place for us all. But I’m confident that regardless of what it looks like, you will be there standing with your sister as you challenge expectations and change the world.

Love, Mama

JiaoJiao previously published A Letter to my Bold and Fearless Daughter in 2021 on Women’s Equality Day.