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A good judge of character

I know this column is supposed to be about COVID-19 — everyone is writing about it. But frankly, I’ve had enough talking about it. I hope the measures put in place to try to stop the spread are effective, and that we can all get through the very unusual next few weeks in one piece.

I suppose I can share one story and move on. A co-worker went to the mall last week, where she noted one store was completely sold out of hand sanitizer … and the shelves of hand soap were still fully stocked. For goodness sake, people, even if panic buying (of anything) WAS necessary, soap should have been the first thing to go. To me that goes to show there are a whole lot of folks getting more wrapped up in the drama than paying attention to the facts.

But that’s enough of that.

I want to tell another story, that to me was of greater concern. A 7-and-a-half-year old girl asked her granddad last week, “Can girls be judges?”

That should make everyone stop and think for a moment. What is this young girl experiencing, learning, being exposed to, that in this day and age she still did not know the answer to the question “Can girls be judges?” What kind of people are talking to her about her career options … or limitations?

We have failed her, and, I suspect, millions like her.

Of course, this particular girl’s granddad answered with an effusive “Yes!” and proceeded to show her multiple examples, starting with U.S. Supreme Court justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan. Back in 2016, West Virginia became one of only 11 states that at the time had a female majority on its supreme court.

He went so far as to purchase for her the Barbie Career: Judge Doll, perhaps just to show that even the makers of arguably one of the most traditionally “girl” toys felt it was important to represent female judges. It was important to this granddad to send a clear message. Yes, girls can be judges; they have been able to serve as such for quite some time. They can be just about anything else, too.

(I, erm, know from experience that when you ask this particular granddad a question you get a very, very thorough answer.)

She is a smart, strong, confident little girl. She would be a very good judge, if that is what she decides to pursue.

I hate that it even crossed her mind to ask that question. I hate that we have never gotten past little girls believing there are limitations to what they can achieve, simply because they are girls.

How many more generations are going to grow up knowing only half of what they can become?

This little girl is lucky. She is surrounded by people who encourage her to ask questions, and encourage her to explore … well, everything. If SHE wasn’t sure she could grow up to become a judge, I shudder to think what questions might be bouncing around in the heads of some other little girls.

We’ve got to let them know. We’ve got to let kids — boys and girls, both — know traditional limitations to what can be achieved simply no longer apply. In fact, they were applied for far too long.

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com

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