Murtaugh: Little girl’s message on YouTube encourages women to follow their dreams, aspirations

Taysha Murtaugh

“I don’t care if I marry you. I don’t care if I marry another man. I care if I do something that’s special.”

These are the words of a 5-year-old girl. YouTube user “AnnaGraceMusic” posted a video Tuesday of her 5-year-old sister explaining why she thinks it’s important that she has a job before she gets married. Three days later, the video, “5 year old needs a job before getting married – funny!” has now reached more than one million views.

This video appealed to me for a few reasons. First, the little girl is adorable. She’s barely taller than the doorknob on the door behind her as she lisps through her “S”s and waves her little arms in front of the camera to let us know she means it.

Secondly, it’s hilarious to hear such a small person speaking so adamantly about such a big issue. Her facial expressions and hand motions are nothing short of sassy as she talks about turning down marriage proposals from men who won’t wait for her to establish herself.

Finally, this video struck me because I found it refreshing. I am so impressed that a child her age, who can’t know much of the world beyond crayons and swing sets, supports a woman’s pursuit of a successful career over marriage.

However, after the 46-second video and my laughter ended, I started to wonder, “Why don’t I hear more women my age talk like this?”

I’ve heard people joke countless times about female students only attending college for their “Mrs.” degree. As a woman, this offends me, but it also worries me that in some cases, it might just be true.

“This is my life,” says soon-to-be YouTube sensation to her imaginary suitors. “I’m not going to do anything for you until I have my job.”

Why have I never heard this from a classmate? This girl is 15 years younger than me, and it sounds like she’s got it all figured out. What will she be like in 15 years?

In her future classes and club meetings, will she continue to speak out and be heard? At a university filled with strong, intelligent women, I can’t help but feel disappointed when in virtually every class and meeting I attend, the men do most of the talking while the women remain silent.

Where is the woman’s voice? Sometimes I don’t hear it. Other times, I hear it, but it’s too littered with “likes” to be comprehended, let alone taken seriously. Maybe I’m not listening hard enough. Maybe the men just need to shut up once in a while, especially when the discussion centers on something they have less of a right to speak about than women: “cough, cough, abortion, cough.”

I’m not writing this to be a bitchy feminist; I’m writing this because I’m genuinely concerned about the level of female empowerment of women our age. There are some women on this campus whose main goal is to get married and have kids before they reach 25 so that, God forbid, they don’t become “old moms.”

Don’t get me wrong; I fully respect women who want to get married and have children. Hell, I’m one of them. But what’s the rush? Is it worth jeopardizing your education and career to focus on a wedding ring?

I should mention that there are some extraordinary women here, both on the faculty and student level. There are women who are working so hard to “do something that’s special,” and they deserve more credit than I can give them.

Bonnie Bowen is just one of many female professors providing a strong female voice at Iowa State. The adjunct associate professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology is the director of the ISU Advance Program that is dedicated to keeping women in science and engineering and encouraging women to continue in their education past their undergraduate degree.

Claudia Prado-Meza, graduate in sociology and vice president of the Association of Latinoamericanos; Chandra Peterson, former vice president of the Government of the Student Body, are just two of the female student leaders on campus.

Despite the numerous women making a difference at our university, women are still outnumbered in leadership positions, both in college and the job market.

While it’s true women and men have equal opportunity to run for leadership positions in this country, it is in no way true that they have an equal chance of being elected. Plus, subjects like math, science and leadership have not been encouraged enough among young girls historically.

It’s time to admit that by withholding the same kind of encouragement from girls that is given to young boys, we are crippling women’s progress.

Our gender has certainly made leaps and bounds in society, but the harsh reality is women are still paid less than men for doing the same work. Women earned 82.8 percent of the median weekly wage of men in the second quarter of 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although this number is the highest ever recorded, it still does not equal 100 percent, which is not good enough.

How do you think our little YouTube star will feel about those numbers once she’s old enough to find out? Hopefully, for her sake and for the sake of the people she’s sure to berate about it, by the time she enters the workplace women will be earning equal pay for equal work.

Think back to when you were a little girl, boys, this sentence clearly doesn’t apply to you. Would you have said the things that this girl said? Before you played “house” with your dollies, did you put your foot down and say, “Not before I get a job”?

How about now? Your dolls are packed away in your parents’ attic or the basement, I presume, but is the basic idea of marriage still taking precedence over your education and career goals?

If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch this video on YouTube. Listen and laugh at the little pistol as she spouts off about her future career, whatever that may be. But when it’s over, I hope you remember what she said, and I hope she inspires you to “do something that’s special.”