When I was in high school and university (late 80s/early 90s), there was a movement toward educational equality. Teenage girls were encouraged to consider careers in male dominated areas, like the maths, sciences and engineering. We were told that we could excel if we put our minds to it. The days of being forced into subservient roles was over and we were the generation of women that would shatter all the barriers. We were encouraged to think, to question and to strive for our dreams. The boldest, most empowering part of this message was that we were valued for our minds, not just our bodies. Brains trump breasts. Grey matter is more valuable than a tight ass and killer legs. Your mind is your greatest physical asset.
What has happened to feminism? Over the last thirteen years as a teacher, I am seeing a disturbing trend taking hold of teenage girls. Many young women are handing over their power. I often talk to my students about the ways of modern teenage life. Let me relay some (disturbing) insights that they have passed on to me:
A large number of 14 year old (and younger) girls are now sexually active. Mainly because they think they are supposed to be having sex to be normal and popular. TV, movies and music make it sound like all the cool kids are having sex, with multiple partners. Nowadays, the "good" girls are "only" involved in oral and anal sex, because that way they won't get pregnant.
Girls are still pretending to be dumb to attract boys. Boys don't like it if they feel inferior to a girl.
Alcohol, Ecstasy and marijuana are common ingredients at most teenage parties. Girls are often so drunk and/or stoned that they have severely impaired judgment or they may pass out, leaving themselves open to sexual assault.
A surprising number of girls are still hoping to attract a wealthy mate to take care of them. It is considered amusing to be elected as "most likely to marry for money."
Many young women are being verbally, physically and/or sexually abused by their boy friends. Often they are too scared or embarrassed to report the problem or to seek help.
It's time for a revolution. A raising of female voices.
So, mothers of the world, sit down with your daughters. Tell them that they are worthy of respect. Let them know that they have exceptional abilities beyond tantalizing the opposite sex. Make them aware that they are greater than the sum of their body parts. Let them know that they should come first - that their goals and dreams take precedence over everything else. Encourage them to take care of themselves and to carve out a future of their choosing. Inspire them to be powerful, smart, headstrong women that can take the world by storm.