Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Little Girls

I hear a lot from my friends who want to be teachers, counselors, or social workers about changing the future by reaching out to kids. This wasn’t something I ever thought about much. I’ve always been much more concerned about reaching people who are my age and older and trying to understand their beliefs in order to bring about some societal change. Then, my sister had a baby. Being the youngest, I never had to think about being around young kids or about how what I do around her will influence the development of the world’s next president, lawyer, actress, or poet.

Then I got an email from this same sister with a link to an article and a line that said, “I will no longer tell you how pretty you are and instead grill you about current events. Maybe it's too late for you?” I clicked the link, and it opened to a Huffington Post article written by Lisa Bloom about how to talk to young girls. The article documented her experience of spending a night talking to five year old girl, and how instead of instantly telling the young girl how beautiful and cute she was (despite how hard it was to stop herself), she spent the night reading the girl her favorite book. The book itself was about a girl who loves pink being bullied by girls who wear all black. Bloom says, “Alas, it was about girls and what they wore, and how their wardrobe choices defined their identities. But after Maya closed the final page, I steered the conversation to the deeper issues in the book: mean girls and peer pressure and not going along with the group.”

I had never thought about this before reading the article. Even now, as I’m trying to think back to my own childhood, I remember being told how cute/beautiful I was more than I was ever just actually brought in on a real conversation. It might be easier to tell a girl that she has a pretty dress rather than asking her what she likes or doesn’t like about the world she lives in, but we all have to start thinking about how we want to change the world at some point. Why not start right away?

This is something I want to be conscious of as my niece starts to grow. Do I want to dress her up? Of course I do, and I probably will (She has an adorable black and gold Adidas track suit, and I think it’s hilarious.) There are many pictures of me dressed up in ridiculous outfits just because my older siblings thought it was funny. But I also want to know what she thinks. I want her to think about what she would do if she had one magic wish, even if all she wants to do is outlaw broccoli. Now, my niece is only a few weeks old, and she can’t actually understand anything I might say to her. However, I’d like to think that one day, when she’s a super successful woman who is more concerned with her brain and ambitions than her appearance, my trying to have a one sided conversation with her while she makes adorable pig noises and squinty faces will have made some impact on her life.

Read the article
for yourself and see what you think about it.

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