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Stop griping and get a grip [Commentary]

I came of age in 1980, just as the women's movement hit its full stride, and those were the days. At my first real job I had sign that read: "Women have to do twice as much to be thought of half as good as men; luckily, this is not difficult."

Unlike our mothers and grandmothers, we faced an open world of opportunity, possibilities, goals and achievable dreams. No more would we be limited to being receptionists, nurses and teachers — you know, the girls-only jobs. In fact, I and most of my girlfriends were in the science/math curriculum in school and attended some form of college. We scoffed at the so-called glass ceiling and promised to smash through it — and we did.

I also raised both my daughters to: stand on their own two feet; know they don't need a man/woman to be complete, happy or miserable; always strive for excellence in everything they do, no matter how trivial the task; reach for the stars; know that they alone are responsible for their actions and inaction; and to understand that no one can make them feel inferior without their permission and that they can do anything.

That is, of course, what the women's movement promised, what I achieved and what I wanted my daughters to accomplish as well. I'm quite proud to say they're doing a fine job, and I betcha a dollar to a doughnut there are millions of other moms who taught and continue to teach something similar to their daughters (and sons).

So, here's my question: When did we go back to being defined by our vaginas? In two years we've gone from superwomen who have successful careers, thriving families, meaningful relationships, to "I can't afford to pay for my birth control pills" and throwing temper tantrums over someone else not paying for our abortions.

Excuse me, but I refuse to be defined in such a helpless, pitiful and ridiculous vernacular, and I will not retreat to the era of my grandmother when she was at the mercy of all men, no matter the circumstance. We've come a long way, ladies, and we're not going back!

Women are not minorities. There are slightly more women than men in this world and in the U.S., so how can we be a minority?! And why would you want to be classified in that manner? It's not a badge of honor.

For the whiners who've made nothing but bad choices yet blame everyone else: Put your big girl panties on, remove your heads from your tails and get yourselves together; you're embarrassing the female sex and proving the men right.

They said we'd never handle the stress and all the nuances of the big, bad world; we are the weaker sex, a bunch of fragile flowers. For two generations we've shoved those notions up their noses while women in other countries are killed for having dreams you take for granted.

It is up to us to not only be role models for our daughters, it's our responsibility to be role models for women across the globe; we are their only hope, and we can't help if we're unable to help ourselves. You want that world peace? There won't be peace until all men and women everywhere are free to attempt achieving their dreams.

I stand on my grandmother's, mother's and many women's shoulders, proudly holding my head high, humbled and emboldened by their love and support.

I learned and taught my daughters that holding your hand out and expecting it to be filled is an insult to all we've accomplished.

It's time everyone else learned the same lesson. Grow up, girls, and get a grip.

Michelle Jefferson is a small business owner and political activist. Her email is michellejefferson@reagan.com.

To respond to this commentary, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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