When most girls are younger, even though they are not directly told be so, girls learn to be cute. They learn to be weak. They learn to let boys open doors for them and lift heavy objects. As girls get older, they are subliminally told that it is bad to be smart. Women are forced into tiny glass boxes in which they feel as uncomfortable as they feel unreasonable and illogical. This can cause so much cognitive dissonance in a young woman’s life that she is left not knowing what to do in many cases. She is stuck asking questions a man would never ask himself. Though I pride myself on being strong and independent, I ask myself questions like, “Will my boyfriend feel threatened by how much money I earn,” or “Will my husband feel like I don’t love him because of my devotion to medicine and my future career?”
No one should ever feel forced into a box. Everyone should feel as though they have the freedom to pursue the careers and activities that make them happy. But across the globe, there is a belief that women should be encouraged to have and care for their children and they need to limit their goals to having children and a husband. There is also the belief that women need to stroke their husband’s ego and, rather than being strong with their partners, they make themselves seem helpless by making themselves the weaker party. Girls are taught to be weak so that their boyfriends, husbands and others will be fond of them.
This needs to stop. Not only is it limiting and unfair to our goals, but it creates the belief that someone should behave in a certain way and conform to gendered roles. This is deeply beaten into the belief systems and brains of girls who turn into women and, in turn, beat this into their children. No matter how much we try to fight this with feminism, it will unfortunately continue to rear its ugly head. Instead, we should teach our girls to be strong. We should teach our girls to chase dreams the way we teach boys to chase knowledge and dreams. We should teach girls to chase science, mathematics and technology the way we teach them to chase hipbones and thigh gaps. We need to teach our young women to become strong, passionate individuals and to contribute to their worlds. Since well-behaved women rarely make history, we should never teach women to be well-behaved. We should teach women to be strong, to break rules and to press boundaries.
Our entire world, in every aspect, needs to grow and develop. Let’s make our girls strong and let them participate in growth and development.