Margaret Hollister, 99

Washington, DC

“People would try to console my mother: ‘It’s too bad, but maybe the next one will be a boy’ ”

​My experiences with sexism and advice to young women

 

In China when I was a child, everybody was always waiting for a boy. When a girl was born, it was universal sadness. They had a rhyme: “A dog is good around the house / A pig is useful too / A cat can always catch a mouse / But what’s the use of a girl like you?”

 

I had three sisters and one brother. People would try to console my mother: “It’s too bad, but maybe the next one will be a boy.”

 

Mother had a very hard time at the birth of my brother. She was 40. I was called from boarding school, and I arrived at the mission hospital. My father was in the corridor and a medical tech came up and congratulated him on his “firstborn.” I’m 13 years old, and I’m standing there fresh from boarding school, and my father—who was raised in China—said thank you, accepted it, did not try to correct him, and didn’t speak to me about it….