How absurd is our world in giving mixed messages to girls? They’re taught from a very young age to be lady like, polite, have manners, and basically to be good little girls. What exactly does that mean, good? Like always doing good things? Good can mean even-keeled and people pleasing. It can also mean being mild-mannered and one who follows all the rules. So how do we raise our daughters to become self-confident, self-assured young women who may not always do the right thing, but can forge ahead and be the fierce, outspoken future leaders of the 21st century? Seems like a hard task if you ask me since girls are often ridiculed for being opinionated, courageous, or outspoken.
I remember being about 8 years old and my mother being in a parent-teacher conference. The teacher told my mother that I didn’t participate much in class but I was a good girl, a good listener. Hmm. So basically I wasn’t the model student because I didn’t raise my hand much, I didn’t speak up in class, but according to the teacher, I was a “good girl.” That pretty much sums it all up. The good girl listens. Listens is the key word there. To this day, I wonder if that same teacher would consider me a “good girl” if I was the outspoken student, the student who always had an opinion in class?
Now I’m all grown up at the mature age of 51, uninhibited, and pretty much verbally unstifled about expressing myself. Not that I have to raise my hand to speak, but people who know me, know me to be bold, honest, non-traditional and opinionated to a degree. I call it being myself. It’s not the shock factor that gets to people. It’s the rawness of keeping it real, without having to hide behind a fake exterior that most people show. If I like you, you know it. If I don’t, I really don’t have much to say. I think that’s why my biggest pet peeve (more disgust), is with people who think they can fake being someone they’re not. I just get people instantaneously. It’s a blessing and a curse.
Good girls have to fake it. Since the brave factor is missing, these girls tend to always do the right thing. They don’t want to rock the boat, they think that keeping the peace will solve all their problems, and if they think some things are unjust, well, let’s just say that those things will eventually drift into thin air. So, the good girl keeps her mouth shut for the most part. Being apologetic is another character trait. Because these types of girls think that apologizing for everything will make people like them more. Not. It’s just a cover-up for their insecurities. How can you be sorry for having a point of view? Do you really want to raise daughters who apologize for being authentic? Not speaking up goes against the core of who I am, and who I want my daughters to be.
Raising daughters and nurturing their resiliency means fostering their self-assuredness, not compressing it at times when they feel the urge to speak their mind. But we live in a society that has such incessant disdain for girls with opinions. And we wonder why girls struggle with confidence and self-esteem issues. It’s a double-edged sword. Girls can be quickly judged for their bold, forthright, and shocking expressiveness. What about applauding them for their confidence, honesty, and stand up attitude for what’s right? Girls in the 21st century, look out for those young leaders who aren’t afraid of their self-assuredness! Keeping the peace is one thing, but creating a culture of social justice means girls feeling empowered, speaking up for what’s right and not just sitting pretty in silence.