On Girls & Women.

Via on Oct 26, 2011

I am presently undertaking a project, 25 Days, where I travel around the country listening to people and writing their stories. I am now working on stories for Austin, my fourth city.

In many of the homes I have stayed in during this project, there have been young girls of ages from five or six through 12 or 13. Generally speaking, I have a good relationship with the children in the houses I stay in, but observing the difference in girls, the way they transform from these confident little balls of energy into secretive and insecure young women is stunning.

My own experience growing up was not much different. At a certain age, I became very aware that I had changed. When I was very young, I was treated like a little ray of sunshine. When people saw me coming, their faces would brighten, and I could do no wrong. When I hit about 11 or 12, I became a problem to be dealt with. I became awkward, sarcastic, and generally unpleasant to be around.

I have to wonder what this is. Why is it that girls go through this change, and why have we as a society not figured out how to help them through it? I can’t help but think that there is something that could be done.

I recently watched a documentary about the disparity between males and females in media, and how pervasive the “woman as second-class citizen” message is. Like most things of this nature, it seems to stem from fear. I don’t think it is fear of women, but fear of ourselves. It might even be a fear of what we are capable of, but too afraid to reach for. The documentary discussed the reality that women, just as often as men, discount women. It is as if we believe that we are not all connected.

We lose so much by putting each other down. It is not about who owns the most, it is about who shares the most. It is not about what you have to lose, it is about what you have to give. We are missing the point. We have to wake up and start believing in our own greatness. Treating girls this way is a symptom of a sickness we have yet to cure. It is time to stand up for ourselves and stand up for each other.

 

About Sara Young

Sara Young is a writer, artist, cyclist, amateur yogi, and avid poetry appreciator. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Sara is presently living in Bellingham, WA., making art, writing, and riding her bike along the bay every chance she gets.

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9 Responses to “On Girls & Women.”

  1. "I don’t think it is fear of women, but fear of ourselves. It might even be a fear of what we are capable of, but too afraid to reach for."

    Sara – this really struck me & reminded me of something Marianne Williamson wrote: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?"

    I think you really hit on something there…and in my personal experience, I find that most of the negative stuff we women put on each other. There's so much talk about men oppressing women, but I think we do a lot of it to each other, and I see it starting younger and younger. We need to (societally) address this as well as other bullying issues.

  2. EricaMorton says:

    Would you mind sharing the name of the documentary that you mention? Sounds powerful!

  3. Sara Young says:

    It is called Miss Representation. There is a link to it in the blog piece. It was on OWN's website, I think it originally aired on that channel. Thanks so much for the feedback.

  4. Sara Young says:

    @Kate, I agree. I am not sure how to address it, as every time I attempt, I am met with defensiveness and attack. Even posting this article on my facebook page resulted in a tirade of how men are depicted badly in sitcoms and in the media. I think the point is that we have to start treating EVERYONE better, regardless of gender.

    • Andrew says:

      @Sara, I agree. One of the challenges boys face is having to live into proving that they are not gay (big boys don't cry), which promotes aggression and cutting ourselves off from our tender feelings. Girls have challenges as well as you have pointed out. Let's find ways to treat everyone better!

  5. Susan says:

    Actually, after years of observation and therapy conducted, I think most men are very afraid of women, if they are honest. Women grow them in their bodies. They are helplessly dependent on women when they are young. When they start to move away from their mother their biology (for straight men) draws them back towards women! Girls grow away from women towards men – the conflicts are more evenly divided. When men cannot own their own sexuality and animal nature it gets projected onto women, whom they then try to control (in fundamentalistic primitive groups for example). Since women are seeking approval from men, it gives men a lot of power.

  6. Yogatchr says:

    It's because we live in a patriarchy that still loathes women as second class citizens in so many subtle and not so subtle ways. You have to actively revolt to live your life in a way that rejects our society's fundamental views of women. Young women and girls must be taught how to revolt. I taught my daughter to, that's for sure. The patriarchy does not want us to band together and wants to create the myth that we loathe each other and "have low self esteem", "hate our bodies", "fear being alone" etc. etc to keep us struggling with ourselves and cooperative with the lies….because yes, a revolt among us would be very powerful indeed. Do it! Reject the bullshit.

  7. Pierrette says:

    Sarah, this is a great article and so important issue, it felt really familiar both for me (although I am a bit over 12) and for my teenage girls. I took some extracts of your article for my own blog, mentioning your link of course. Thanks !

  8. [...] even famed feminist Gloria Steinem once [...]

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