Archived from the week of 6/4/18 @ The Guilde:
"And I love, hear me,
I love love love
being a girl.”
-- Eve Ensler
In her book, You Play the Girl, Carina Chocano explores the cognitive dissonance between media representations of women and the reality of our lives, and how the cultural narratives we take in from the time we are girls inform and shape our beliefs about ourselves.
“The Girl” Carina is referring to is “whatever the hero needs her to be in order to become himself […] The Girl doesn’t act, though — she behaves. She has no cause, but a plight. She doesn’t want anything, she is wanted. She isn’t a winner, she’s won. She doesn’t self-actualize but aids the hero in self-actualization.”
Ouch. Of course, none of us walks around thinking consciously of ourselves as thatgirl. But there is undeniably a cost to us as individuals and as a society when the billboards, fairytales and pop culture fantasies played out around us repeat the message that girls are neither the protagonists of our own lives nor the heroines in our own stories.
According to a recent study, girls lose faith in their own intellectual brilliance – in kidspeak, “being really, really smart” -- by the age of six. The conclusion? Young children are exposed right out of the womb to the cultural bias that genius is more likely a male trait than a female one.
Another lens to this phenomenon is the so-called “confidence gap,” the reality that a girl’s confidence plummets at puberty, making her more likely to accept her limitations. Many a girl at this age quits competing in sports, thereby depriving herself of one of the best ways to regain it. By the time she’s a woman, she’s likely to vastly underestimate her abilities.
And even if there are plenty of confident women in the world, we can’t think of a single woman who is overconfident. Consider this though: “overconfidence,” what most women would consider arrogance or downright fraud, actually comes across to others as self-belief, the belief that one is good and capable. And consider this, too: perfectionism is the single biggest confidence killer.
We don’t remember everything about our girlhoods being rainbows and sunshine, but we do remember a belief that we were good, capable and strong. We do remember that we weren’t perfectionists. And we definitely remember being the heroines of our lives. In fact, we remember being unashamedly opinionated, loud, and smart, and climbing up on the living room coffee table every day to belt out Annie show tunes for all to hear (Dana); and forming a one-girl rock band and informing strangers everywhere of a future presidential bid (Kristan).
What do you remember?
Bring the girl you remember to this moment in time, and know that it’s time for us to flip the script. It’s time to redefine and reclaim The Girl. To remember the girl as the most free part of ourselves.
Eve Ensler implores us to do just this in her powerful TED Talk, Embrace Your Inner Girl. She posits that, “the whole world has essentially been brought up not to be a girl. To be a boy really means not to be a girl. To be a man is not to be a girl. To be a woman is not to be a girl. To be strong is not to be a girl. To be a leader means not to be a girl. I actually think that being a girl is so powerful that we’ve had to train everyone not to be that.”
And then she reminds us that the essential quality of our inner girlness –- our empathy, our emotion, our intuition, our relational way of being, our fierceness, our courage -– is quite literally the very thing the future of our humanity rests on. Just that.
As Madeline L’Engle said, “We are every age that we have ever been.” This means that The Girl is still alive and well inside each one of us. And it is totally within our power to take on our girl. To value our girl. To find her heart. And fire her up.
What might be possible if we do?
To The Girl!
Dana & Kristan