When moms pretend that the limitations are okay it's disheartening & confusing
These words saturate the public conversation, yet surprisingly few adolescent girls know what they really mean and whether or how they apply to them. Research shows a whopping 87% of girls have been sexually harassed but, in most cases, no one has ever discussed sexual harassment with them.
Girls struggle for most of their lives to find just the right words with just the right tone and smile to make it stop without being blamed, called names, and losing out on valuable things like party invites or work promotions. They come to believe it's a normal part of life.
Parents of girls today are “woke” compared to their own parents: They bring their daughters to Women’s Marches, ensure they have books with strong female characters and buy them RBG paraphernalia. But they don’t get down into the weeds of gender bias and sexism with them.
Instead, we gloss over the icky parts of being a girl and focus on how strong, equal and powerful they are.
When we don’t address the unpleasant and creepy experiences that are a girl’s inheritance, we do them a disservice. We contribute to their confusion.
The truth is, male aggression in American culture is considered pretty normal. This sentiment is what allows everything from unwanted and unsolicited sexual comments, to sexual touching to rape to occur and be viewed as acceptable, funny and/or desirable. -- Desirable for a guy because it proves he’s a real man and desirable for a woman because sexual attention is a so-called reward. Rejecting a reward is just downright rude so we must be uptight and unappreciative if we don't like it, right??
When we act like it's NORMAL that, for example, girls are in far more danger than boys, can't go out after dark, and can be blamed for getting hurt because of what they're wearing, we simply confirm them as the weaker sex. But if we tell them they are being judged, stereotyped, sexualized, and that IT'S NOT OKAY, we make them feel less crazy and give them something to fight for.
Don't miss this article on helping girls recognize sexism:
A sunny “girls can do anything!” attitude just isn’t enough.
SILENCE and DENIAL are DAMAGING
87% of girls report sexual harassment but most say no one has ever discussed the topic with them
7 out of 10 girls (some studies show even more) will be harassed before they leave high school while 1 in 4 can expect to be sexually abused or assaulted before they turn 18.
Sexual harassment is distressingly common yet it is widely misunderstood and minimized. Many girls are so desensitized to it and accept it as a fact of life. So let's define sexual harassment and let kids know none of these are okay!
gender-based slurs like bitch, ho, whore, slut
catcalling, as in having a stranger tell you you’re “hot”
having a stranger say something sexual to you
having someone you know say something sexual to you without your permission
insults by a man with sexualized words
insults by a woman with sexualized words
being touched without permission by a stranger or someone you know
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
Bill Lange, PhD
Professor of Philosophy
As a father and someone surrounded by college students, I sometimes find myself scrambling to keep up with the rapidly changing times. This website answers so many questions (some I didn't even know I had) and makes the information easy to absorb, even by an old White guy like me.
Jasmine T., SAHM
I am raising Black girls and I'm so glad to see them represented. Thank you for a site that is inclusive, totally accessible, and really has me thinking about how I want to parent my kids from a feminist perspective.
Mom, teacher, Sex Educator
WOW. I'm so impressed. The information you provide is essential for raising kids with healthy sexual attitudes. I hope a lot of parents come to understand the relationship between being demeaned and objectified and later harassment and violence.