Leonard Sax has a new book out called “Girls on the Edge.” I have not read it yet, but wanted to share with you what I gleamed from the McLean’s Magazine review (3 May 2010).
Dr. Sax found that girls are in very serious trouble and suffering from a very fragile sense of self. He describes cutting, binge drinking, depression and anxiety. And I wonder: So what’s new?
Sadly, it looks like he (like others before him) has accurately labelled the symptoms but not the causes. And thus continues to label the situation as the ”empty lives of teenage girls” and in turn calls this ”a girl problem” (as opposed to a cultural problem). As a result it seems as if his solutions focus on girls and specifically ”protecting” them (ie, keep them prisoners at home without internet access). It looks like he saw the tail of the elephant under the table (such as the media sexualisation of girls) but failed to see the rest of the elephant. You know, the North American male-based culture (patriarchy) that places unbearable pressure on young girls to meet standards of perfection, that are simply impossible to meet. This culture (which ultimately drives them crazy) is reinforced non-stop in almost ever aspect of our society. From family traditions, to the hidden curriculum in schools and community programs. Not to mention the “biggies” like sexist and demeaning movies, television shows, video games and magazines.
We can’t possibly protect our daughters from this constant and continual objectification of girls (and women). So rather than telling girls to be tougher or stop engaging in such a toxic world, wouldn’t it make more sense to help parents, teachers, preachers and politicians to shift our culture to one that honours girls and women? You really have to read my upcoming book: “Girls Interrupted: How we hold girls back and how to stop it.” More on that later.