Drugs and sex are not the biggest dangers facing our daughters
Although there is a lot of talk these days about “girl power,” the statistics clearly show a different picture. Hidden deep below the smiling faces of young girls remains stories of loss of self-esteem, depression, self-abuse and perfectionism. And worse yet, girls don’t complain. They hunker down, work even harder, seek counseling and in some cases, take their lives. We tell them “it’s just a teen-girl thing” and they will get over it. But they don’t. Girls continue to struggle well into their adult years. So, what’s really going on? What’s really causing clique-exclusion, mean girls, popularity contests and eating disorders? Most of us think that girls are to blame. They point to hormones, relational aggression, immaturity, jealousy and even promiscuity. They think that girls make bad choices or hang out with the wrong crowd.
Girls, we are told, lack resilience and need to develop self esteem and better boundaries to prevent problems. These myths are causing girls not only work themselves sick but make them feel like they are going crazy trying to reach impossible standards of perfection. The real culprit, that we fail to see, is a deeply hidden secret. Girls suffer, not because they are genetically incompetent or weak, but rather because we as a society tell them day-in and day-out that they are NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
Girls are not good enough to simply be smart. They must be athletic and brilliant musicians as well. They must be beautiful, slim and sexy. But not too sexy or they will be slutty. And not too smart or they will be seen as “full of themselves.”
These conflicting and confusing messages become loudest just when girls enter the vulnerable teen years. As they look around girls become acutely aware that males have privileges that they do not, that they live in a male-centered, and where only the popular, sexy and brilliant girls survive. So it’s no surprise when girls work overtime at becoming something they are not, eventually lose themselves and try to control their world by competing for attention, zoning out or taking dangerous risks.
This book tackles the so-called “girl problem” and turns it on its head. It shines a bright light on the real culprit: a whole culture and belief system that holds girls back – a culture that actually dis-empowers girls. Dr. Fitzgerald guarantees to change the way you see the world and provides you with a new set of lenses (maybe not rose-colored) that you can share with girls so they too can see the multitude of damaging and degrading messages – from magazines, television, movies, and even parents and teachers – telling them they are not good enough and must be something “more.”
With an intelligent and compassionate voice, Fitzgerald offers the latest research and concrete advice on how to raise girls to truly be confident, courageous and powerful. She combines her own experience as a lawyer, gender expert and mother to describe the many pressures and expectations placed on girls and how they are rooted in outdated beliefs.
Part 1: Girl culture
1. Wake up to your daughters’ reality
2. Stop the pinks and blues
3. Notice the invisible cultural wallpaper
4. Uncover your own girl bias
5. Become a mindful parent
Part 2: Girl pressures
1. Notice the pressures and expectations
2. Get a grip on the media
3. Navigate cliques and the social scene
4. Deal with bullies and peer pressures
5. Notice the hidden curriculum
Part 3: Girl strengths
1. Learn self compassion
2. Manage emotions and change
3. Keep healthy and safe
4. Build courage and resilience
5. Nurture relationships
You will l learn strategies, to not just empower girls, but to help daughters, sisters and fathers make the world more hospitable for girls.
Author: Maureen F. Fitzgerald, PhD, LLM, JD, BComm is an xlawyer, author and thought leader. She practiced law for 20 years and has written seven books including a best-selling law textbook: Legal Problem Solving (Lexis/Nexis). She has a business degree, two law degrees and a doctorate degree in adult education. She taught at two universities and now dedicates her time to writing and blogging about social justice, gender equality and mindfulness. Maureen is an inspirational speaker and one of Canada’s most outspoken thinkers.