In today’s headlines we hear regularly about females who have been mistreated, harassed, and abused. Yesterday’s post suggested that part of the blame for this is the lack of strong female role models in our media. Yet, this is obviously a complex and systemic issue that must be addressed on many different fronts. So, I’m just going to admit that I’m the one to blame.
Those times I chose a boy instead of a girl to go pick up thepackage from the office because I assumed he was stronger. That time I told my daughter we needed to wait until her father came home so he could fix the faucet. The many times I told that same daughter to be careful, stay close to me, and to hug relatives she had never met. In all of those occasions, I have unwittingly strengthened gender stereotypes. Women are weak and incapable. Women should be polite – even in uncomfortable situations. Women should take less risks.
I am a person who enjoys self-reflection. So, when I view a TED talk like Caroline Paul’s, I am ready to examine my own actions and to grudgingly accept that I have made a lot of mistakes. My actions have contradicted my own beliefs, contributing to prejudices that I despise.
If you are a parent, teacher, or anyone who is a role model for children, I urge you to listen to Caroline Paul’s recommendations for teaching girls to be brave. I think it’s excellent advice for us to use with all children.
For more ideas on this topic, check out this post about our “bravery deficit.”