…our teenagers are crying out for it
Equality matters – what can I say that has not already been beautifully articulated by so many amazing 3rdi women? But then I reflect and know for sure that we are all educated, informed and active women in this arena so I would expect nothing less, so I am going to open up another related topic.
The equality debate is not just about board rooms and equal pay; political office and pensions; glass ceilings and the question of having it all; It is driven by our behaviour as women and how seriously we take our responsibility to be a role model for the next generation. So how are we doing at that?
I salute 3rdi’s guest blogger 22 year old Hollie-Marie this month and agree 100% with her comment ‘we have moved back not forwards, yo-yoing away from bra-burning and Virginia Wolf towards Ann Summers and Heat magazine.’ The time for pioneering and campaigning is upon us, now is not the time to be reasonable and politically correct. Now is the time to embrace the feminist mantra and act!
As someone who spends a lot of time working with teenage girls via www.girlsoutloud.org.uk I see the effects of a society fixated on appearance, where beauty is prized and brains are sidelined. Since we have mainstreamed porn, girls want to look like Jordan and boys expect them to behave a lot worse. Teen pregnancy has been normalised and fake is now a way of life – fake nails, fake eyelashes, fake hair, fake skin, fake teeth, fake boobs and so it goes on an on and on…
To go against this all consuming trend demands high self esteem, confidence and a strong identity – values that come from good parenting, inspiring peer groups, sound teaching and empowering role models. How many of them have that?
As if to rebel against this girls are self harming, binge-drinking, starving themselves, cutting themselves, disfiguring themselves or simple crawling into a corner in an attempt to become invisible.
So who are they copying? Whenever I have a platform to influence women as a speaker or coach I always ask ‘So, how are you showing up for the younger generation, for our daughters? What messages would they be getting from your life choices?’ Would they be saying ‘You know, when I grow up I want to be just like you?’ Or would they be shaking their head in despair saying ‘No way I am doing that or ending up like you.’ Tough question, but necessary to understand the bigger picture. You see, if we are starving ourselves, injecting ourselves, cutting ourselves, pumping up our lips, embracing the fake mantra, exchanging our self esteem for a paycheck in an organisation that does not value us as women, accepting a mediocre relationship or even an abusive one for fear of being alone, unfulfilled because we cannot find the courage to step up to our passion/purpose , staying silent and insignificant for fear of being seen as too demanding, exhausted playing the superwoman role from no work/life balance, beating ourselves up with guilt as we attempt and fail to have it all. What messages do you reckon all of this projects?? And don’t get me started on the current trend to embrace the products of the sex industry as acceptable leisure/exercise pursuits! – pole dancing for seven year olds? Burlesque for 13year olds?? 8 inch heels? Arrrrgh!
If we don’t change we cannot expect our teenage daughters to anytime soon and the global picture for women is even more depressing, little girls remain a burden whilst little boys are the prize. I was recently involved in an Oxfam campaign to raise awareness of equality issues and asked to complete the following statement..
We will have equality when………
Try it, my answer was ‘We will have equality when the violence stops’. Maybe I will discuss this in my rant next month?
If you would like to know more about the work of Girls Out Loud, become a Big Sister or simply help us fund raise please come along to one of 4 information meetings taking place throughout the region over the coming weeks. We would love to share our vision with you.
Tuesday, 29 November 5.30-7.30pm Royal Armouries, Leeds
Thursday, 1 December 5.30-7.30pm Cotton Court House, Preston
Monday, 5 December 5.30-7.30pm DWF offices, Spinningfields, Manchester
Monday, 12 December 2-4pm Queen Hotel, Chester
To secure your place simply email firstname.lastname@example.org
We are so looking forward to meeting you all and changing the landscape for teenage girls in this country. It is time….