home what'snew resources ask amy news activism antiviolence events marketplace aboutus
Ask a Question!
Meet Amy!
Amy's Resource Guide
Ask Amy Main
TOPICS
Feminism
Girls/Children
Health
International
Media
Miscellaneous
Most Asked Questions
Politics
Reproductive Rights
Sexual Harassment
Violence Against Women
Women's History
Work/Career
   
 


 
 
Girls/ Children

Amy,

My family is always telling me that boys are more capable of some things than girls. Lately it seems like everything I want to do they say boys are more capable of. These are things like sports and driving. They let my brother do things on his own, even though he can be pretty irresponsible at times. I'm more independent and responsible, and I don't do a lot of stupid things that my friends have done, like have sex, get pregnant and get into bad relationships or drink. I'm always telling them I'm smart enough not to do half of the things my friends have done, but they treat me like a little kid and like they have to stand over me to make sure I do stuff right.

I told my family that I'm just as capable at doing anything as my brother, but everyone in my family - even the other girls - always tell me boys are more capable. I'm sick of it. What can I do to convince them that girls are more than just helpless Barbie wannabes? I tell them that girls are as smart as boys and boys are as smart as girls, and boys aren't necessarily better than girls and girls aren't necessarily better than boys and that both genders are equally capable of things like driving and stuff, and that there is no such thing of one gender being smarter or more capable because we both have brains.

After I give the speech, they tell me girls are slower learners. They tell me to get off my high horse and that boys are more capable just because. I think parents should not tell kids this because it really affects their self-esteem and makes them prefer to confide in their friends instead of their parents because they're afraid their parents will give some stupid, narrow-minded answer like 'because he's a boy" or not listen to the point their kid is making. Why are so many people so pessimistic toward girls? I'm smart and I'm a natural artist/writer/musician and I'm good at all kinds of stuff. Most of it I learned on my own. My brother isn't really that good at any of that type of stuff, yet they're always overlooking the stuff I do and focus on the stuff I do wrong and call me a slow learner, which I am absolutely not, then they compare me to my friends over really stupid stuff. I've tried everything to convince my family that neither gender is smarter and pointed out specific careers that both are in, but nothing will change their minds. Please help! Every time they tell me this then I tell them they're wrong, they'll say we're sorry to hurt your feelings, but boys are more capable at most things. I've run out of stuff to say since they won't listen to me. I think people shouldn't say stuff like this because it does severe damage to girls' self esteem..

   

Thanks for your note to feminist.com and I'm sorry that your family is so frustrating. And it doesn't surprise me at all that you are more responsible and independent. Many studies on girls label us "resilient." In part I think it's because we learn at an early age that people won't always include us or treat us the way we think we should be, so we have to make up for that by becoming strong and resilient.

It seems like you have tried a lot of things with your family and it doesn't sink in. I have one suggestion, which has worked for me in the past, and that is to give them examples of women who have achieved in "male professions." These "exceptions to the rules" prove to me that there really aren't any rules and that the exception comes only because enough girls haven't been given equal access to such things and when we are, we prove to be as successful/capable. Look at the Women's World Cup soccer team. They proved to be as captivating and good as the boys teams - and soccer is one of those sports that women have had access to for 30 years, so it shows that if you give women the access and the resources we are equally capable.

I just read an article about 20-year-old Sarah Fisher who came in second at the Indy Racing League. (She did come in second to a boy, but she had beaten him on other occasions). There is also Mohammed Ali's daughter the boxer - and that great movie Girl Fight where the girl beats the boy at boxing, which was based on a real story. There's Bev Francis who could bench press more than the strongest man. So these examples prove that it's possible for even more women to be just as capable.

Also you have to look at examples like female astronauts and Madeline Albright being Secretary of State. There was a time, not too long ago, when people said that girls couldn't do that either, and now we don't think twice. I hope these examples will help convince your parents - maybe you should also engage your brother on your side. Who knows - good luck and I hope these suggestions help.


Amy

 

home | what's new | resources | ask amy | news | activism | anti-violence
events | marketplace | about us | e-mail us | join our mailing list

©1995-2002 Feminist.com All rights reserved.