Hi! You aren’t born yet, but I have exciting news for you: You’re a girl!
I know you don’t know what that means yet, but it’s basically that between the two sexes, you’re the one biologically responsible for childbearing. (You know, that miserable thing your mom is doing for you right now.)
You’re also lucky because this is a good time to be a girl. Statistically, the market economy is unlikely to reward you the same as your male peers for equal output. But there’s a good chance that’s going to change by the time you’re ready to start working. For the first time, a woman could be president of the United States.
This is all very confusing. I’ll start from the beginning. The United States is one of about 200 politically demarcated territories on the land portions of earth, which is essentially a giant rock that orbits a star that orbits a black hole in space. It’s full of people who don’t get along all that well, and no one knows why we’re here. Later, the torment of this unanswerable question will cause you angst, and you’ll search for meaning through a painful process of trial and error, disavowal of the religion we’ve forced upon you, shitty jobs, various acts of (I hope legal) rebellion and a possible return to the Catholic Church.
And by the time that happens, maybe they’ll let you be a priest! But I doubt it… The men who preceded me worked hard to keep people like you out of public life. But you know that woman who’s running for president? Her mother was born at a time when women weren’t allowed to vote, so, hey, progress.
Right, voting. Let me explain. Because your mom and I are Americans, you’re automatically an American citizen, which is a crucially important stroke of luck for you. It changes everything. It means you get to pick the people who lead you. It means you can travel the world virtually unrestricted. It means you’ll live longer and earn more, and you’ll be less likely to fall victim to gender-based violence.
But here’s what you need to remember: You didn’t earn this; you won a lottery. And because you won, someone else lost. There are girls your same age who won’t get to meet their fathers because of war. There are girls who will be denied education by discrimination or poverty. You won’t be able to fix it by yourself, and I don’t expect you to spend your life trying, but I do want you to be aware. Because understanding your fortune and fragility is the basis of compassion, and if nothing else, I want you to be compassionate.
Now, don’t be discouraged. It’s not all gloom here on the other side of the abdominal tissue. The sky is bright blue on most days here in the tropics, a breathtaking effect of light diffusing across earth’s atmosphere. As our star, the sun, spirals lower while the world spins, it shoots up bright rays of red and orange, and warmth — sensations that can’t be described, only felt.
There’s Bruce Springsteen and Thanksgiving dinner and Thai beaches and Seinfeld.
And there’s love, all kinds of it. It’s a feeling of intense gratitude for friends, intense understanding with family and intense trust and desire with your romantic partner.
Oh! That’s the other thing. Some girls feel sexual attraction for girls instead of boys. If it happens to you, it’s perfectly normal, despite what anyone tells you. (Five very smart people in Washington said so.)
Whoever you are and whatever you want to be, remember that there are a lot of people here — your mom and I especially — eager to support you. You have no idea.