sassysage's Blog

Sage’s Rage: Totally Girlie

Posted on: May 23, 2011

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Last week I was standing in awe of the crowd while serving as a facilitator of a meeting of national thought leaders at the Ford Foundation. Many powerhouses in the room where big dogs in government, research and the foundation world.  Part of me was wondering now did ‘I’ get invited to this? But after shaking off the negative thoughts, I accepted that it was meant for me…

We were all there to talk about one thing and one thing only and that was gender. By the end of the meeting it became clear we had a problem.  Many of us couldn’t speak clearly about what we meant.

Gender is such a loaded term sometimes more rousing than the word race. Many people think about gender and envision the feminist movement or LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual) with a heavy emphasis on T (transgendered). But what we mean is to keep it simple. We were talking about plain ol’ G;  as in male and female.

Whether we like to admit it or not everyone of us has a definition of what it means to be a boy or girl. Even in the US where we applaud ourselves for equal rights. Boys still have to ‘man up’; show strength and power to get respect. We still tell our baby girls how beautiful they are as a sign of our love. Its just what we do…

But decades of research, including many years of my own work, has shown this gender thing matters. It makes a difference in how people feel about themselves, how much they strive to achieve in school, how often they get teased\bullied and it has a huge impact in how we relate to one another.

My work with girls and young women has taught me just how much youth need our guidance in this area. They don’t know what and who to believe about what it means to be a woman. Should they follow what they see on TV and the internet (pls NO)? Do they model after their moms (perhaps)? Who do they turn to about how they feel inside about being ‘girlie’? 

What I learned at the meeting is that many adults are just straight confused. Since there’s so much at stake for our kids its time we grown ups started working on figuring it out. I challenge you to be a part of the solution. Spend more time with your daughters, nieces and grandchildren, share conversations with your girlfriends and best buddies, have honest talks with the men in your lives.  Begin to recognize that gender is an important and amazing part of who we are as women (and men) and there’s no need to keep in silence about it…

celebrate being a girl!

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