Here is why I am writing a book on raising girls in our highly sexualized society. This is my story.
This book started about ten summers ago, on our family vacation. My wakeup call came on sunny peaceful afternoon dockside at the lake. My relaxing read was shattered by the ear piercing squeals of my two tween daughters jumping up and down wildly on the floating raft as my husband circled in the water below, like a shark. As they jumped with arms flailing they taunted their father over and over with the age-old phase of power: “I am the King of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal.”
Now, unlike most mothers who might have glanced up and chuckled, I lurched forward, threw my book aside and cupped my hands to my mouth. “It’s QUEEN of the castle, not king of the castle! QUEEN, not king!” As they turned their childlike faces to me and tilted their heads like puppy dogs, I felt this deep sadness pour over me. “How could I ever teach my beautiful and free daughters about all of the things that I have come to know over so many years? How could I protect them from the harassment and sexism and bias that I experienced, not only as a lawyer but as a mother and even a harassment investigator! Where could I possibly start?”
That small moment lead to years and years of reading and researching, and ultimately a book (in progress). Although I really just wanted to write a book for my two daughters about how to be more aware and thus resilient to our female-demeaning culture, when I discovered the current research on girls I quickly changed course.
I realized that as a past policy lawyer, researcher, author and mother I was in a unique situation. Instead of writing to young girls about how to be tougher. I had the skills, interests and opportunity to write to parents and teachers about the various ways our whole culture holds girls back. From sex-role expectations and beauty pressure to violence and pornography. From sitcoms and daily news to music, and novels. About the right to vote and about motherhood.
And to be entirely frank, at the end of the day, here is what I really want:
- I want girls to feel beautiful and powerful and valuable just as they are.
- I want them to never feel ashamed for taking up too much space or expressing emotions.
- I want girls to value their feminine attributes and perspectives, never feeling they are not enough.
- I want girls to have deep friendships with their mothers and other girls – a sense of sisterhood.
- I want girls to never experience violence especially from those they love
My book is not a fluffy feel-good book filled with pictures, and pop culture. It is a solid book backed by current research and the insights of many thought-leaders. It is a book that will help all girls develop long-lasting skills and ways of thinking that will serve them well into adulthood.
My girl-raising book is my gift to mothers and daughters and for others who want more for their daughters. I believe that girls and women hold great wisdom and strength. I believe that mothers desperately want to heal from past harms and create a world where their daughters can grow into amazing women. END