Raising girls in a patriarchal world

How do we raise girls in a world run by men? A world where most countries are led by men, most companies are owned, managed, and operated by men, where a man’s salary is 30-40% higher than a woman’s? How do we raise girls entering such a world without making them too

  • Outspoken

  • Domineering

  • Demanding

when they are really just

  • Expressing their opinions

  • Leading

  • Articulating their needs or desires

Sadly, these qualities, often admired in men, are undesirable in women. And so we hear criticisms of girls like

  • You don’t want to call attention to yourself

  • You catch more flies with honey than vinegar

  • Shhh, don’t talk so loud - everyone can hear you

And on and on the ancient tropes and efforts to create cookie-cutter little girls continue.

So what does this do to our little girls, forced to be sweet, accommodating, and coy in order to be loved or wanted, when that’s not who they are?

I remember that none of the boys in my middle and high schools liked me because I didn’t fit into that cut. And the 1970’s Asia had a very particular cookie cutter! Those boys would get a headache just talking to me. And I always thought it was because I wasn’t too pretty, when in fact it’s because I was different and made them do some brain work to communicate with me. I wasn’t shy and quiet. I questioned what they were doing or thinking and I expressed those thoughts.

This is all to say as you raise your little girls, remember to create a lot of space for their explorations and experimentations. Don’t judge them and try to mold them to be acceptable to society, even if you think it will make life easier for them. Because really, you’ve actually never met your daughter. You have never met the woman that she will grow up to be when she is entirely herself.

You know when you see a cyclist careening down a hill, turning this way and that to stay balanced and you think they’re gonna fall because they’re not following a straight line. But they always get to where they’re going, on their own terms. Remember that the twists and turns and weirdness is all part of the ride. Because honestly, well-behaved women seldom make history.

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