Parenting girls

There is an article by Kate Figes on the editorial page of The Age that is a wonder to read. It is about parenting girls. First, however, we must introduce Ms Figes. She is obviously a formidable presence and must know a thing or two about such issues.

Kate Figes is the author of Because of Her Sex: the Myth of Equal Opportunity for Women; Life After Birth; The Terrible Teens and The Big Fat Bitch Book.

Now, I am of the opinion that since the sexual revolution of the 1960s being a girl has been a wilderness of terrors with no socially sanctioned refuge. Girls, you are on your own and it must often be terrible. Ms Figes would seem to think the same:

The distress of young girls is clearly visible in the rising rates of mental health problems, binge drinking, eating disorders and the rampant growth of bullying in our schools. Girls are now expected to be all things – attractive, thin, good, successful, happy, kind, loving, self-sufficient; perfect, in other words, within an imperfect world that still does not give women the equal status they deserve.

She does not attribute these problems to feminism itself but comes up with the usual explanation for anyone on the left:

[When author Steve Biddulph states that] ‘never before has girlhood been under such a sustained assault’, he is right. Young girls have become a soft target for big business; messages propagated through television and advertising tend to accentuate female sexualised imagery and their bodies rather than their brains. Consequently, everywhere a young girl goes ‘she sees messages that make her feel that she is not good enough’.

Well that’s one explanation. But this I found quite an admission, if an admission it is intended to be:

My daughters are intelligent, capable, beautiful, ambitious and kind people and I couldn’t be more proud of them. But I also see how they cannot help but internalise the message that they are not attractive, thin or sexy enough, and need regular, repeated reassurances that they are, in fact, utterly stunning. [My bolding]

Do they really need regular and repeated assurances that they are “utterly stunning”? If you ask me, these girls do not seem have the kinds of personalities that would take the hard knocks the world will inevitably and repeatedly rain on anyone in a competitive environment. These are girls unprepared for life but will have a bagful of excuses ready made for any and all occasions.

Then there is this which I will pass over without comment but is pretty indicative of a failure to understand how things work and will always work in the world inhabited by the human species.

I have no doubt that countless girls are growing up profoundly confused by the conflicting messages they are given. Take sex. On the one hand they are as entitled to sexual exploration and fulfilment as the boys. They feel sexy and are understandably interested in sex. They are encouraged by the boys to reveal body parts that can be instantly messaged from phone to phone. But the prevailing ethos is still that ‘good’ girls ‘don’t’. ‘Slag’ is the number one insult hurled at girls by both sexes and rumours almost always trash another girl’s reputation. Boys are never tarnished in the same way. [My bolding]

This is clearly a woman who has had the cushiest human existence, not comparable to any of the women whose stories are found everywhere across the world and who are genuinely oppressed. In Australia, to talk of “a world that is still so profoundly unequal in the treatment of men and women” shows a pampered life with no real adversity, and certainly with few obstacles that have been put in her way because she is a female. She finishes with this, that “every girl is somebody’s sister, mother or wife”. That is a not an untypical logical flaw since there are plenty of girls who are no one’s sister, mother or wife. What she meant to say is that for every male, their sisters, wives and daughters, if they exist, are woman as are their mothers. Which is why for most of us males brought up in this culture, accusations of being anti-women is irritating and completely untrue.

1 thought on “Parenting girls

  1. Pingback: Choosing a husband « Law of Markets

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