She Raises Her Daughters

A poem inspired by awesome parents like my friend Sarah Suarez, who put so much thought and intention daily into the ways they raise their daughters, and by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ recent speech in response to Rep. Ted Yoho’s disrespectful comments and subsequent non-apology.

If you haven’t watched the full video of AOC’s speech (included in the link above), it’s well worth the ten minutes. One line (among many!) that I appreciated is “I am here because I have to show my parents…that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men.”

She Raises Her Daughters

She raises her daughters to negotiate,
push back, articulate their needs, 

to know that those who love them 
will respect them, hear them out, will not 

lash back in anger. 
She raises her daughters to say “thank you” 

and “no, thank you,” to assert autonomy,
embrace their agency, be willing to refuse 

demands upon their time, their bodies, souls,
and see authority as something not unbendable 

by strong and stubborn wills.
She raises her daughters to make choices,

to direct the courses of their lives, to not 
accept in coerced blindness 

all the things the world will tell them 
about who they are 

and what they cannot be.
She raises her daughters to stand tall

when men try to demolish them with words,
to see right through pretend apologies,

to speak truth to deaf ears until they hear,
and not back down upon intimidation.

She raises her daughters to know that they
and all their sisters are worth more 

than this.

So praise her, praise the mothers like her,
praise the parents like her―each the kind 

of hero our world does not know it needs.
They walk against the wind 

and swim up all the streams 
to teach our little girls to live as fully human,

teach our little girls to live what will not be
an easy life.

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