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Being a Teenage Mother Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Be Great

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Being a Teenage Mother Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Be Great

As the day draws to a close on this side of the ocean, advice rx and the dust begins to settle, look the chilling reality emerges that Donald Trump, reality TV star, really is President of the United States. Call it complacency or wishful thinking, but I know I was not alone in thinking – even assuming- that Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State (amongst other roles), was a shoo in.

Clinton was never going to have an ‘easy ride’. She doesn’t have the natural charm of Obama, she has a very impressive, but unsensational, political background, she has no real sob story to speak of. (Granted, these things shouldn’t matter, we’re deciding on a president, not an X-factor finalist, but in the circus that American politics has become in the last year, they do.) Despite this, she managed to progress towards a (largely) sure fire victory.

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And it was exciting. Whether or not you liked her, as a politician or otherwise, there was something quite significant and thrilling that finally, a woman was in (and set to win) the race. Had she lost to a run-of-the-mill, well regarded Republican with a similar CV but different political values, fine. Fair game. But the fact that Clinton was beaten to the post by a man who has uttered the phrase: “I think that putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing,”- is the saddest part of this show.

There are a number of troubling realities about Donald that have been front and centre of the presidential race – his racism, his contempt of minorities, his disregard for the environment, his links to white supremacists- but none of these have riled up the world more than his blatant, unapologetic misogyny. At best, he’s like a weird old guy who says he’d ‘date his daughter’. At worst, he’s allegedly committed sexual assault.

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The fact that 2016 was the year that this man won the race to the white house spits in the face of the effort and diligence of Clinton to get as far as she did, only to be beaten. The fact that the ‘other option’ to the ‘over-qualified’ female candidate was a man who bought the Ms. Universe pageant so he could make the bikinis smaller is more than laughable, it’s pathetic. The universal sigh that could almost be heard this morning said it all: women can get as far as they possibly can, work their asses off, build an extensive career, and get within tipping distance of the glass ceiling, only to have a man who has spent his campaign reducing women to objects.

But the worst part of this? Americans are absolutely fine with that. Well, most of them. They knew about the ‘pussy grabbing’, about the objectifying, the fat-shaming, the accusations of sexual assault and they voted for him anyway. They are even happy to be known as ‘deplorables’, as if it’s a badge of honour.

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The biggest shame in this election is not that Hillary lost, it’s not even that Trump won: it’s that the winner, and his supporters (many of whom are female) validated beyond measure not just the actions and utterances of sexism, but the excuses made to support them.

This election should have been a victory for women and girls everywhere, whether or not Hillary had been victorious. Instead, the ideals and attitudes of one candidate clouded and trumped any shred of hope for an end to inequality and misogyny.

Unless American society undergoes a seismic shift in attitude, the implicit message to girls remains:

Try. Try really hard. Do all the work. Make all the sacrifices. Never complain. Never show emotion. Be the perfect candidate. Get to the top… almost. But don’t get any ideas above your station, and make sure you wear makeup and a nice dress. And, oh, have the dinner ready in the evening, won’t you?

 

Written by Alice Leahy
As the day draws to a close on this side of the ocean, information pills and the dust begins to settle, the chilling reality emerges that Donald Trump, reality TV star, really is President of the United States. Call it complacency or wishful thinking, but I know I was not alone in thinking – even assuming- that Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State (amongst other roles), was a shoo in.

Clinton was never going to have an ‘easy ride’. She doesn’t have the natural charm of Obama, she has a very impressive, but unsensational, political background, she has no real sob story to speak of. (Granted, these things shouldn’t matter, we’re deciding on a president, not an X-factor finalist, but in the circus that American politics has become in the last year, they do.) Despite this, she managed to progress towards a (largely) sure fire victory.

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-16-25-36

And it was exciting. Whether or not you liked her, as a politician or otherwise, there was something quite significant and thrilling that finally, a woman was in (and set to win) the race. Had she lost to a run-of-the-mill, well regarded Republican with a similar CV but different political values, fine. Fair game. But the fact that Clinton was beaten to the post by a man who has uttered the phrase: “I think that putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing,”- is the saddest part of this show.

There are a number of troubling realities about Donald that have been front and centre of the presidential race – his racism, his contempt of minorities, his disregard for the environment, his links to white supremacists- but none of these have riled up the world more than his blatant, unapologetic misogyny. At best, he’s like a weird old guy who says he’d ‘date his daughter’. At worst, he’s allegedly committed sexual assault.

4125

The fact that 2016 was the year that this man won the race to the white house spits in the face of the effort and diligence of Clinton to get as far as she did, only to be beaten. The fact that the ‘other option’ to the ‘over-qualified’ female candidate was a man who bought the Ms. Universe pageant so he could make the bikinis smaller is more than laughable, it’s pathetic.The universal sigh that could almost be heard this morning said it all: women can get as far as they possibly can, work their asses off, build an extensive career, and get within tipping distance of the glass ceiling, only to have a older (white) man who has spent his campaign reducing women to objects win with the overwhelming support of other older white men.

But the worst part of this? Americans are absolutely fine with that. Well, most of them. They knew about the ‘pussy grabbing’, about the objectifying, the fat-shaming, the accusations of sexual assault and they voted for him anyway. They are even happy to be known as ‘deplorables’, as if it’s a badge of honour.

giphy-38

The biggest shame in this election is not that Hillary lost, it’s not even that Trump won: it’s that the winner, and his supporters (many of whom are female) validated beyond measure not just the actions and utterances of sexism, but the excuses made to support them.

This election should have been a victory for women and girls everywhere, whether or not Hillary had been victorious. Instead, the ideals and attitudes of one candidate clouded and trumped any shred of hope for an end to inequality and misogyny.

Unless American society undergoes a seismic shift in attitude, the implicit message to girls remains:

Try. Try really hard. Do all the work. Make all the sacrifices. Never complain. Never show emotion. Be the perfect candidate. Get to the top… almost. But don’t get any ideas above your station, and make sure you wear makeup and a nice dress. And, oh, have the dinner ready in the evening, won’t you?

 

Written by Alice Leahy
I am one of many young women who became a mother early in life.  I found out I was pregnant at the age of 18, recipe but already was confirmed to go to school at Marymount University (MU) in Northern Virginia.  Becoming pregnant six months prior to my high school graduation seemed like one of the worst things that I would have to go through.  I was an A/B honor roll student, played sports in high school, had goals lined up, and had a pretty good idea what I wanted to do with myself.  However, I hit this bump in the road and wasn’t sure how I would even attend school, let alone graduate, all while being a mother.  I considered going to a local community college or not going at all, but, through my own desire and the all-important encouragement and support of my family, I was fortunate enough to be able still to go and receive my diploma.  Although the journey was painful at times, it was an experience I am proud of.

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Like most young people, I was excited to go away to school and take on new challenges.  I grew up in a small town (Harrisonburg, VA) and I knew, based on my own goals and in order to do what I dreamed of, I had to get away.   This is why I chose a school a few hours away but still close to home if anything was to go wrong.    After I learned I was pregnant, my mom and I had many discussions about my commitment to this journey and made logistical plans for who would keep the baby, etc.—what would be required and sacrificed.  The result was that I was able to stay enrolled at MU and even stay on campus, pregnant and all. It was hard.  I had to go to class and walk around pregnant while it seemed everyone stared and looked at me as the outcast. I hated being away from home and everything that I knew at the time.  

On September 12, [2011], at around 3:00 a.m, I woke up to a horrible pain- my water had broken whilst I was at campus. I remember calling my mom, who still lived back home in Harrisonburg about two hours away from my University.  I explained what was going on and she told me I needed to call a cab to get to the hospital; luckily, the closest hospital was only ten minutes away. I brought my daughter into the world that evening and stayed at the hospital for two nights before heading back home. I took only a week off of school and dived straight back into it- there was no way I would allow myself to fall behind.

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It was a tough time.  I was battling separation anxiety due to the fact my daughter had to stay back home with my mom and her dad. I went back home to visit every few weeks, but I had no car so getting back and forth was difficult.  Luckily, my mom found a better job closer by allowing me to be closer to my daughter whilst studying at school.  I am forever grateful for the help I received while being in school because, without it, graduating would have been that much harder than it already was. I graduated in May 2015 with a B.S. in Cyber Security and, of course, my lovely daughter got to see me walk across the stage to receive my diploma.

Graduating obviously was a great thing, but I immediately had to improve my situation not just for myself but for my child. I didn’t have a job lined up and unemployment was depressing and stressful.  I went to so many interviews and received so much rejection but thankfully by the end of July, I received a job offer for a part time position as a help desk technician at a Best Buy.  Although I now had a job, I really didn’t like the position and still was very upset with how things were playing out; I felt like I did all of the work of studying and graduating only to get a part-time job making little money. I didn’t let that discourage me and six months later I was  offered a full-time position with a contracting company as a User Support/Technical Technician. I was floored when they contacted me with the offer; I even cried after getting off the phone with them.

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I am in a better mental space now than I was last year for sure; I work full time while being a single mother. People assume that having a baby at a young age means you won’t amount to much or reach your full potential; I’m here to tell you that’s not true. I told myself years ago that I would never allow myself to succumb to what society labels a “statistic”. Instead, I’ve chosen a life filled with so many opportunities and I am going to always take full advantage of that. I’ve started my own brand YesBriaNicole with the aim of inspiring young mothers like me to stay hopeful and ambitious.  Things won’t always be easy, but as long as you have some fight in your heart, these trials and tribulations won’t last forever.

Written by Bria Nicole

yesbrianicole.com

yesbrianicole.wordpress.com

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categories : PERSPECTIVES

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