As I lay in bed in quite a pitiful state earlier this week, waiting for the time to roll around for my emergency dentist appointment, I had a little wander around the blogosphere. I’m glad I did because 1) it distracted me from the throbbing going on in my mouth (can you tell I’m feeling sorry for myself?) and 2) I discovered some pretty great blogs that I’ve not come across before. One of which was Who’s The Mummy who was writing about what age girls should start wearing makeup.
Having two little girls and a niece I have a vested interest in the issues that surround girls, and having worked with children and young people for over a decade I’m ridiculously passionate about seeing them grow up independent and confident in themselves. As I was reading this really insightful and sensitive blog post, my first line of thinking was that of young girls feeling the pressure to look a certain way, according to the gospel of glossy magazines. It drives me nuts, and though this is what started me thinking (and I’ll
rant write about that another time soon), my under-stimulated brain went into overdrive and quickly crossed over onto a whole other path. Related somewhat, but not restricted to just girls and how they feel about their appearance.
What started me in a different direction was remembering something from a little girl I know. She’s six. A few weeks ago she declared that she “was not a girl, but a tomboy’. I felt like my heart had shattered into a million pieces and crumbled to the floor as this bright, strong and articulate little person was conveying (not for the first time) how disgusted she was at being a girl. To this child you couldn’t get muddy and be a girl. You couldn’t play football and be a girl. Heaven forbid, you couldn’t be strong and be a girl.
I’d say that I’m a feminist. And that has taken a long time to come to terms with. When I trained to become youth-worker 13 years ago I trained alongside a lot of woman that called themselves feminists and for quite a while these characters shaped my view of feminism. These women were angry. Possibly rightly so. Change has been needed for a long time and their fight for equality has been because men and women have historically not been treated equally. But what unsettled me and made me wince away from the feminist label was that they were after blood. In their anger they were distracted in the quest for equality by a hunt for revenge. They didn’t want to work and live alongside men, they wanted to replace them. Which confused me somewhat because you’d be going from a culture of one dominant gender to that of the same but in reverse. They renounced femininity and ridiculed it as weakness. Being ‘like a girl’ was weak because they understood that it mean that it let men dominate.
Then I watched this video a while back and I understood fully what feminism means.
It’s ok for a girl to be covered in mud on a football field. If it feels right for her.
It’s ok for a girl to wear a pretty dress. If it feels right for her.
It’s more than ok for a girl to be strong in whatever she does.
Gender does not dictate your character and it does not dictate your abilities. But it is part of who you are and that should be celebrated, not restricted or denied.
I want my girls to grow up loving being a girl. I want them to find their place in this world as a girl, not feeling the need to take the place of boys. Whether they want to be craft artisans or mechanics, I want them to know they can live alongside their male counterparts and be secure in who they are.
Mrs C x
Which girls in your life can you empower by encouraging them to do things ‘like a girl’?