Thursday, October 9, 2014

False Dichotomy

In our efforts to empower girls, it's important that we avoid inadvertently limiting them, or creating a false dichotomy. As Emma Watson said in her speech at the United Nations:

"It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum 
instead of two sets of opposing ideals." 

Girls should not be shamed for liking pink anymore than they should be shamed for wanting to be on the wrestling team. But really, girls should know that they can like pink *and* enjoy wrestling. Young women can choose to wear makeup *and* raise dairy cows. They can excel in science *and* be a cheerleader. While we are encouraging children to expand their horizons and dream big, we need  to avoid bashing traditional girl roles, choices, and stereotypes. We need to remember that there is nothing wrong with a girl who enjoys baking cookies or curling their hair. Empowering young people involves communicating to them that they get to decide what it is they want to do and how they express themselves. They are no longer limited by traditional gender roles; they get to choose how traditional gender roles will inform their choices.

Yes, we still have a long way to go before there is gender equality around the globe. But, we won't get there any faster by hating on traditional gender roles, or telling girls what they should or shouldn't be. We will get their by supporting all young people in living authentically and by loving them unconditionally. We will get there by setting our children free to explore all the possibilities, to experiment, to show the world the outward expression of who they are on the inside, without shame or fear.

I love that girls do not have to choose between liking pink and cosplaying at Captain America. My daughter does both, and, as she pointed out, there is no gender limitation or restriction that applies to the rank of Captain. She doesn't need to be "Miss Captain America."

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