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After singing lullabies to my niece as she drifted into sleep, after I set her tiny onesie-clad body down into the crib, after I waited for her cries to turn into whimpers into sniffles into silence- I wept. With happiness and wonder and fear and anger and disbelief. Today my visions may have been filled with pink, but I am seeing red.

It is tremendous to see the solidarity of so many women. We’ve been plopped into a vat of hot water and we’re kicking hard to pull ourselves out. We’re continually surprising, we’re continually making waves. We’re doing it with the help of our friends who also are being flagged as less-than-worthy. Our comrades against a tyrant. Our sidekicks against a megalomaniac. Our consorts against a mangled patriarchy. Our confidants against corruption. Our allies against a tangerine bigot. Whether we’re blistering hotly in quiet solitude or in the streets, raising our stakes and holding our heads high- I’m bursting at the seams with pride and admiration for the women around me, for the women afar.

I keep going in to peek at my niece’s face as she sleeps. She is tranquil and she is untainted and I am so happy for her and I am terrified for her. This beautiful little creature is swathed in love, she is surrounded with support and intellect and open arms, eyes, hearts. She will have a mind that is challenged and thoughts that are stimulated and an existence that is blessed, that is dazzling. She also walks into a world where hate reincarnates, through generations and leaders and non-leaders and words and the stifling of words.

We have a duty to remind her that she is capable. That her worth is invaluable, that yes she absolutely can. That things are going to be tough-going and imperfect and frightening and that hindrances can be looked at as a barometer of her strength. That she is beautiful, no matter what she sees on reality television or Instagram or splashed across film posters. That she has smarts and no one should be able to dilute that, no matter their rank, gender, title, status or IQ level. That she is magical- and just as magical is the girl beside her in class, sitting at the cubicle next to her, in the dressing room adjacent, across from her on the field, standing behind in line. That she has so much to offer this world- and that what she has to offer need not be one particular thing dubbed by anyone else to be worthy. She chooses what makes her standout. She chooses how she makes her mark.

And in the end, we have a duty to remind ourselves of all these things. If we don’t truly believe them- how can we pass this on to the next generation of impossibly marvelous, daunting women?

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