Over and over we wax and wane poetically about adolescence gone askew as Fox News sends out headline after headline crying the plight of our troubled youth. Fox News cannot save the next generation, and although, my beautiful teenage girls, you are frequently dismissed as superficial and inadequate, I do believe you can solve the problems of the future despite being pegged as one of the present.
"Our girls nowadays, oh no! They're dressing scandalously, they're scary skinny they have low self esteem. BACK IN MY DAY...." Back in your day women baked cupcakes, gave birth to beautiful children and... were generally not encouraged to be educated and frequently the victims of horrific violent actions then considered maybe not acceptable, but at least permissible.
My point is, no matter how far back you go, women have pretty much always been considered the weaker of the two genders. Blame society, blame anatomy, when the teenage girls of today look back for guidance they can only really seek it from a generation who has struggled some kind of sexist battle before. Nowadays it's different; to call everything fair would be blind, but it's not the same defined fight it was before. Feminists throughout changed laws, which are generally clear and well written out, but in the process they also changed the definition of a girl, and there will be no handbook provided for this.
It's healthy to have someone you can look up to and admire in times of moral crisis, but I frequently question the role models chosen by society for the young women of today. I don't even blame whoever is the current poster child of Disney for inevitably taking her clothes off any more, and have to laugh at those who are shocked by it.
"But MileyVanessaBrittneyInsertNameHere... my little darling looks up to her! She loves that show!"
So what? What does this starlet have to prove to your daughter? Who was the first person to say, "Oh you can act, you can sing, you are thus morally superior"? And why on earth did you fall for this person's grave mistake? In ancient Greece the philosophers and the actors were hardly in the same class, and we generally hold that society as a beacon of what is (primitively) rational and intelligent.
And yet we continue to hold mainly people who have a job in an industry known as entertainment up as pillars of ethics. Why can't we teach our girls that to like someone and to look up to someone is not the same thing? Even a few months ago I was under the delusion that this world lacked good female role models. I could not have been more mistaken. It may be hard to see the sun when there is smog in the air blocking the view, but the sun is still there, shining.
You can call me crazy for thinking every seven year old girl should learn at least some of the intricate, complex philosophical lessons of Simone de Beauvoir, but is it really more appalling then letting her sit mindlessly in front of stupid musical number after stupid musical number onscreen as the stars of it strip for magazines and comply to the desires of a perverted public thanks to a perverted corporation in their off hours? A girl will only produce results comparable to what she has been able to experience, so let her experience the genius of women at a young age. Don't sit her down with The Second Sex and ask her to let you know if she has any questions later... let her know who great women were, and what made them great. Take lessons, not quotations, and give them to her at a young age. Teach her that the definition of a woman is fluid, and "expressing urself!" is more than buying the right accessories.
This is not about being cultured, this is not about restricting her intake of a media you cannot keep her away from, this is laying the foundations of goodness and intelligent thinking so the next coked out starlet on the cover of The Inquirer is someone she thought was cool, not someone she thought was God. She might not understand those images when she sees them, and you might breath a sigh of relief when she forgets she asked "Mommy, what's a sex tape?" earlier, but you cannot pretend those misunderstood images did not make an impact on the shaping of her opinion and views on life.
It's much easier to slowly build a wall than to have to knock one down and start over again, so talk to her while she's young. Everyone makes different choices. You can make your own. Every human is relevant to society. You are a human. You are relevant. Those confusing thoughts and opinions you have, even when you role your eyes at me at call me lame, those are important, and I care about them. When you show that you are thinking for yourself and developing your own opinions, I see a light in your eyes that is incomparable to any other greatness, and I am truly proud of you.
I know it's hard to reach out and tell someone younger than you "this is what a woman isn't!" when you're hardly a woman, but displaying an affection and compassion to someone that you may have never shown yourself might just mean that you are that voice you needed but didn't have. If you don't teach the girls who matter to you how to think for themselves, some other outlet, possibly one much more sinister, will teach them how to think for it.
The greatest way to show you care is to care.
Go care today.
PS: This is totally inspired by Lee.