I don’t have a little girl of my own, so I live through my friends with daughters.
One 6-year-old lass I’m keeping my eye on, for instance, likes to pee standing up when she’s naked in the summer (quite impressive!) and take unexpected nose dives onto patches of ice in the winter.
When I look at her doing such things, I am heartened by the belief that girl power, feminism or whatever you want to call it, is alive and well in the generation coming up now.
For her, it’s nothing like that at all, of course. For her, it’s just about doing what you wanna do when you want to do it. Which, for me, is all feminism is about anyway.
But I’m not always so heartened by what I see when Iook at the young girls growing up today. I see a lot of things that worry me. We all experimented with our sexualities at some point in our youth; dressing in too-sexy clothes, being flirty, acting ‘bad.’ But today, with this foolish idea that feminism is no longer needed being so widely accepted, I get more than a little concerned by the way some young women are conducting themselves. Too many young women and teens today seem to be preoccupied with looking good, being sexy, and pleasing men. Those things in themselves are not worrisome, but when they happen in the absence of any real connection to a code of female empowerment, to an understanding of where women have been in the past, it scares me. Alcohol, cigarette and drug use rates among girls are higher than ever and on the rise. The popular icons of young girls too often seem to be women with little to offer between the ears and everything to offer below the neck. There’s even a wide-spread idea among young people today that oral sex when done by a girl to a boy is really no big deal and is done casually with no strings attached. I think the singer P!nk took the pulse of the situation and explained it brilliantly in her song Stupid Girls. “Maybe if I act like that, that guy will call me back,” she sings, “Porno Paparazzi girl, I don’t wanna be a stupid girl. Baby if I act like that, flipping my blond hair back, Push up my bra like that, I don’t wanna be a stupid girl.” She goes on to wonder where all the smart people have gone, then sings, “What happened to the dreams of a girl president? She’s dancing in the video next to 50 Cent.”
More women now attend college than men, so clearly things aren’t deperate. But with so very few of us finding our way into the technology jobs of the future (we’re missing the technogical wave, Ladies), with it going to take another 100 years for us to reach wage parity at the rate we’re going and with women of the world still doing two-thirds of the world’s work, earning just ten percent of its wages and owning less than 1 percent of its property, I don’t think we can afford to rest on our laurels.
Clearly, we need to continue to instill feminist ideals in our girls. Do you agree?
Karen Bridson is a journalist, TV producer and author of Stunned: The
New Generation of Women Having Babies, Getting Angry and Creating a
Mothers’ Movement (HCI, 2009). She blogs at
http://angrymamas.blogspot.com She also
produces a parenting show for Canadian Public Television.