I’m a mom, a businesswoman and a state legislator serving South Carolina. At a young age, and after a few setbacks, I was determined to forge my own path through life. And nearly 20 years ago I became the first female graduate of The Citadel, the military college of South Carolina, after following in my father’s footsteps. I also have experience starting my own business and in 2017 ran for — and won — a seat in the state legislature, on my own terms.
Through these experiences I’ve learned that as women we make a fundamental mistake when we make our identity as women the whole story. The point of breaking glass ceilings after all is that after they’re broken, it doesn’t matter anymore. The American experiment is built on the premise that if you set a goal, show up on time and work hard, then success is within reach and it is limitless. We can all achieve the American dream regardless of our gender.
Identity politics, currently being overplayed by liberal women in Washington, was on full display during President Trump’s State of the Union address. This spectacle further sets women back rather than advancing our futures. Furthermore, it is hypocritical of the very cause they’re claiming to support. Acting like we just earned the right to vote and are held back strictly because of our gender is an enormous disservice to women everywhere.
We don’t need to dress alike.
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We don’t need to think alike.
We don’t need to act alike.
And we certainly do not need someone to tell us what to do. This isn’t an episode of the “Handsmaid Tale,” and we aren’t sheep.
I’m not saying barriers no longer exist; nor am I saying we should shrink in the face of genuine repression, oppression or adversity. No one facing unfair discrimination should ever have to succumb.
Abraham Lincoln once stated, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” In today’s hyper-partisan world, where Orwell, zero due process and mob mentality rule the day, this message particularly resonates.
Therefore, the perspective I offer is one rooted in independence, liberty and freedom. When we collectively and uniformly mimic each other, seeking permission to stand and permission to offer applause, playing the victim, all while the nation watches, we become a caricature of the women who’ve come before us. In other words, the pendulum swings back, not forward.
Women work hard in their homes and in their careers. Women aren’t victims and men aren’t evil. We’ve worked too hard to get where we are today to move backward.
Women posit their own ideas and opinions regardless of political affiliation. The more independent our actions are, the harder we work, the greater our strides become. Furthermore, we are no better or worse than our male colleagues, we are equal.
As elected women holding office, we need to be present and be working for all of the people who elected us regardless of our gender or theirs.