Realizing Girls Have Different Standards
When I was a little girl, my second-grade teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was so excited to answer her with, “A rocket scientist!” She shook her head and told me that girls could not be scientists because we are “far too dainty for that” and that I needed to “pick something more reasonable.” At the young age of seven, I was told that girls were secondary and that it was stupid to think I could become a rocket scientist—so as the sassy ball of spunk I was, I decided that I could be anything I wanted, and I wanted to be a rocket scientist.
I watched as the boys around me were encouraged to be pro-ball players and presidents and—cough, double standards, cough—scientists, and I don’t quite remember the exact feeling I had, but I’m going to go with my gut and say that I probably raised my hand and asked why he could be a scientist and I couldn’t or said something slightly immature like, “No, you said girls couldn’t do that.”
Growing Out of a Patriarchal Mindset
I realized at the age of seven that I lived in a patriarchal society—even though I had no idea how to pronounce the word or why it mattered—and, I’m going to be honest, I was disheartened about it. I didn’t think it was fair for someone to tell me that my dreams were just as incompetent as my gender. At first, I began thinking negatively about myself. I began fitting into the mold of society’s “perfect” girl—quiet, timid, slim (because God forbid a “perfect” girl eat carbs), and smile plastered on my face. I faked it so long, I forgot about everything I had dreamed of. I pretended being this “ideal” poster-girl for so long that I forgot to live. For eight years. It took me looking in the mirror eight years later (age fifteen) to begin realizing that the only opinion about MY dreams and MY body and MY choices that matters is—brace yourselves, ladies and gentlemen, here comes a shocker—my own. I don’t need some guy in a business suit to tell me that I look the part of an entrepreneur to be a businesswoman. I don’t need a lifeless scale to tell me that I am the right weight to feel beautiful. I don’t need adornments and the “ideals” of every smiling, beautiful face in the magazines to know that I am happy and that I deserve to love life and everything in between—and so does everyone else. When I realized that society’s gloves left me sticking out like a sore thumb, I decided to make my own mittens.
I, Like Martin Luther King, Jr., Have a Dream, Too.
I believe that we, as humans, are given dreams in life that we fulfill over time. Whether it be to have a family, to be the first female president (I see you Hillary), or just to have a home, I believe that these dreams give us a reason to drive ourselves to be better—it gives us ambition. If we continue to damage the dreams of children (girls and boys alike), the future will become increasingly dim, and, eventually, children will no longer dream. (It’s a cycle: Child has a dream, dream is broken by adult, child becomes adult, adult has child, repeat cycle.) I believe that everyone can do anything they put their mind to because nothing in this world is impossible.
My personal dreams are not limited to my enthusiasm in Aerospace, I also dream of equality—and that’s what feminism is: equality. So often, people are quick to picture feminism as misandrists running around with signs saying, “It’s My Equality, And I Want It Now!” whilst burning their latest misogynist. However, my personal definition of feminism is equality across the board. Feminism is not just equality for women (even though my dictionary states otherwise); feminism is equality for everyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and other groups we categorize ourselves into. I picture feminism as a few girls walking around eating donuts (the holiest of all the carbs) with a picture of Oprah, who is pointing at an audience captioned: You get rights! She gets rights! He gets rights! We all get rights!
Society Needs An Alarm Clock So That It Will Wake Up
We, as a society, need to uplift children by supporting their dreams. We need to ask each child what they want to be when they grow up (because it is important to be invested in our future); however, when they reply to with large goals, society should not say they cannot do that. Society should not say that that occupation is for the opposite gender nor degrade them. Instead, we should look at them and smile and say, “Yes! That is amazing! I believe in you! You can be the next president!”, “You can be the next singer!” or, “Yes! You can be a rocket scientist!”
I will never tell a child (nor any person) they are not enough for their dreams because their dreams are my future, just as my dreams are my parents’s future, and my parents’s dreams were my grandparents’s future. I will tell them they can achieve anything because when I was in the second grade, my teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I refused to accept anything less than my own dream of aerospace studies. That is why feminism is important to me—because girls can be rocket scientists, too.
Essay by: Icis McBride
Field of Study: Aerospace Engineering
Institution: Auburn University
Icis wants to live in a world filled with the most advanced rockets, hardback books that come packaged with tissues (“for the tears that come with character attachment.”) and mugs that always keep her black coffee as hot as southern weather.
As a volunteer around her community, she’s put her sneakers into various organizations, such as, Valley Humane Society, First Pentecostal Church, local nursing homes, Valley High School, community-clean-up groups, and the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts of America. She was voted “Most Likely To Trip On the Red Carpet” and “Most Likely to Be Incriminated For Her Sarcasm” in her Engineering class after completing her first year of the Project Lead The Way course.
When she’s not drafting parts or solving math-related problems for a grade, you can find her drinking coffee, working out, or overthinking everything she’s ever said. Following her graduation this spring, she will be attending Auburn University for a degree in Aerospace Engineering and Spanish.
ⒸGirlterest Scholarship Program 2016