But for now we are young, >let us lay in the sun> and count every beautiful thing we can see
‘Why don’t you tell me that, ‘if the girl had been worth having she’d have waited for you?’
‘No, sir, the girl really worth having won’t wait for anybody.’
hot brushy country
the late autumn,
I saw a hawk
crucified on a
I guess as a kind
to other hawks,
saying from the pages
of a leading women’s
but burn all the maps
to your body.
I’m not here
of my own choosing.”
- Richard Brautigan
(or using it as a derogatory word for another girl)
I don’t get offended by a lot of words. Frankly, you could go up to my face and call me a slut and I’d just be like ‘no I’m not, I stay home mostly and watch Food Network and maybe you should call me a creepy shut-in instead.’ That shit rolls off my shoulders, and it never pushed me into a lecture and a rage every time I heard it thrown at another girl. However, the thing with the word ‘slut’ as an insult is a little more complicated then just a word. An ‘oh I’m drunk so I’m going to insinuate that this sister wears a lot of thong underwear and has sex in rooms that have toilets in them.’ And you don’t have to be an outspoken ‘zine feminist to see that it’s kind of a shitty word to use when you want to be cruel to somebody. It basically means that a girl has more sexual partners than is deemed ‘appropriate’ in non-caveman society, and it deems that her clothing choices make her appear to be a ‘sexual object.’ Sexual object of course-unless in Cosmopolitan magazine with a rose in your business skirt loins-is a bad thing. Which also kind of means that girls HAVE a limit in the kind of sex they can or want to be having. Which is fucking stupid, and it’s definitely backwards, and just because you or I don’t want to use our vaginas as much as somebody else doesn’t mean she’s going about it the wrong way. When you are intent on hurting somebody, and you call a girl a slut, you’re fucking yourself over. You’re putting your box in a box. You’re making a noose from pearls and wholesome American Betty Crocker baked goods. So stop it.
“I went to a dinner party at a friend’s home last weekend, and met her five-year-old daughter for the first time.
Little Maya was all curly brown hair, doe-like dark eyes, and adorable in her shiny pink nightgown. I wanted to squeal, “Maya, you’re so cute! Look at you! Turn around and model that pretty ruffled gown, you gorgeous thing!”
But I didn’t. I squelched myself. As I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse, which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed/ well-manicured/ well-coiffed they are.
What’s wrong with that? It’s our culture’s standard talking-to-little-girls icebreaker, isn’t it? And why not give them a sincere compliment to boost their self-esteem? Because they are so darling I just want to burst when I meet them, honestly.
Hold that thought for just a moment.
This week ABC News reported that nearly half of all three- to six-year-old girls worry about being fat. In my book, Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World, I reveal that 15 to 18 percent of girls under 12 now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly; eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down; and 25 percent of young American women would rather win America’s Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize. Even bright, successful college women say they’d rather be hot than smart. A Miami mom just died from cosmetic surgery, leaving behind two teenagers. This keeps happening, and it breaks my heart.
Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.
That’s why I force myself to talk to little girls as follows.
“Maya,” I said, crouching down at her level, looking into her eyes, “very nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too,” she said, in that trained, polite, talking-to-adults good girl voice.
“Hey, what are you reading?” I asked, a twinkle in my eyes. I love books. I’m nuts for them. I let that show.
Her eyes got bigger, and the practiced, polite facial expression gave way to genuine excitement over this topic. She paused, though, a little shy of me, a stranger.
“I LOVE books,” I said. “Do you?”
Most kids do.
“YES,” she said. “And I can read them all by myself now!”
…Try this the next time you meet a little girl. She may be surprised and unsure at first, because few ask her about her mind, but be patient and stick with it. Ask her what she’s reading. What does she like and dislike, and why? There are no wrong answers. You’re just generating an intelligent conversation that respects her brain. For older girls, ask her about current events issues: pollution, wars, school budgets slashed. What bothers her out there in the world? How would she fix it if she had a magic wand? You may get some intriguing answers. Tell her about your ideas and accomplishments and your favorite books. Model for her what a thinking woman says and does.
From Lisa Bloom’s original article in the Huffington Post.
As the adoring aunt of three whip smart and infinitely interesting nieces, I am crazy about this column and concept.
Currently, my eldest niece wants to be a neurosurgeon, writer and jockey while living on a cliff above Lake Superior. My middle niece wants to be an artist, mycologist and the editor / publisher of her sister’s books. She makes jewelry out of junk she collects everywhere and at 8, is reading books I read at 14. My youngest niece just said her first words this morning - “ball!” my sister informed me by text. Next time I start to tell them I love their outfit (and I do - they have an insane prairie punk sense of style, seemingly completely uninfluenced by the modern world), I’m going to stop myself and move right on to the best parts of our conversations.
And the next time that someone at McDonalds asks me if the Happy Meal toys are for a boy or a girl, you’d better believe I’m going to make them wait while I turn and ask each and every one of my five nieces and nephews if they feel like playing with a doll or a transformer today - not what their gender is.
A very sweet and smart post from Joanna at A Cup Of Jo on helping little girls start to focus on the value of their brains rather than their looks.
I love and fully support this.
I love this and from now on…
All of this.
1. Pack winter clothes, which have been languishing on the floor in once-neatly folded piles, but which also silently dispute the word “winter”. It is, after all, Florida. “Winter” clothes are actually “In-between” clothes. So, one never knows when the seasons will make them finally unnecessary. Hence, they remain too long in the breach. And it is summer here. Finally.
2. Go to Market - an unsavory task, despite its seemingly inherent yummy goodness. Reasons are two-fold:
- 1) It is, after all, Florida. Shopping for food here (vs. in Portland where I used to live and miss terribly some days) is like trying to surf in Nebraska. Not only is the region behind the ball in terms of vegetarian/vegan options, but even organic foods are scant. This also has to do with being a resort area, one in which even the most disciplined give themselves a hall pass in terms of diet and exercise.
- 2) So much “stuff”, so much choice and abundance, makes me a little (yes, neurotically, perhaps) nuts. A good friend of mine returned from the Peace Corps to a welcome back party and was sent to the grocery store for condiments. Eventually, when she didn’t return, I had to go find her. She was standing in the florescent-lit aisles, staring. “17 brands of mustard. 17 brands of mustard.” Re-entry can be hard.
But it’s as if she flipped a switch. Since that night, all of our abundance seems to float right in front of me as I roll through the aisles, evoking in me both guilt and gratitude for my lucky chance of birth: 26 brands of barbecue. 97 cereal boxes. 62 varieties of bread. Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies are not starving someplace, they are starving somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
3. Walk. Walk until you blow off the way we’re so inextricably bound to the rest of the world. It’s too heavy for Friday morning. Then run. Let those filaments contract. Surrounded, surrounded in measureless oceans of space … til that gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere…
4. Go to the beach. Breathe. Sleep. Sink back to your comfortable crutches of pop culture, and sunshine and poetry books.
5. Write (as if this should be on any list…)
6. Go see Fusebox Funk tonight. Dance. Dance like there is no head conversing with that braying heart. Be all body and groove.
7. Remember that, in a shrimp, the heart is located in the head. Remember that you are quite happy with such symbiosis in yourself, even if it does draw the comparison of girl to shrimp. Matters not. But try not to think of this as your head-heart combo hits the pillow at 3am…