Walking up the long sidewalk and under the breezeway to the grand old doors of Ellis Island, my footsteps joined the centuries-old line of dreamers who longed to be a part of this country.
Inside I gazed at weathered photos creased with age and wondered about their stories; I examined the satchels and trunks and the blank looks of hopeful confusion that still accompany new beginnings.
They were so brave–each one that poured into the melting pot of the millions leaving behind home and field, waving goodbye to family and friends. With screaming children and empty bellies they carried all they owned. They traveled with meager possessions and readied themselves for hard work in harsh living conditions.
For many, the dream came at a high price.
For some, not at all.
Turning a corner into a new exhibition hall, I was struck by this testimony of a young girl:
My thoughts ranged from, “Wow–she was brave to stand up to those processing her immigration!”…to…”Really?! All you ask of a girl is whether she can wash stairs??”
I hope that things are different for the girls we’re raising.
Do we work to ingrain a healthy recognition of gender differences without coddling girls? Do we expect great things from our sons and our daughters? Does your child’s teacher? Does our nation?
The truth is, according to one fascinating study, we may have so pushed back against “stair washing,” that we’ve begun to actually shortchange our boys, with potentially devastating consequences.
Could this be our future?
- Future fathers who can’t provide for their families
- Husbands who are not equal counterparts for their wives
- A weakened workforce
- A nation ill-equipped to compete globally
This, of course, raises a myriad of other issues [like will there even *be* jobs for our kids?]; that’s a topic for next time. In the meantime, I’m wondering how we find a balance for girls and boys, men and women. I’m wondering how we balance and equally value the kind of knowledge that comes from a terrific education, and the kind of knowledge that only comes from getting your hands dirty.
Or at least sticking them in a bucket of sudsy water to scrub the stairs.