The non-profit website, Girls Inc, does it again! In 1945 a Girls’ Bill of Rights was created. In the “Take Action” section of Girls Inc’s website is the Girls’ Bill of Rights Fact Sheet. This fact sheet gives some shocking, and some not-so-shocking facts, related to each right.
These rights include:
– Girls have the right to be themselves and to resist gender stereotypes.
“An international study in 1999 found that the stereotypes most associated with women were feminine, affectionate, emotional, superstitious, attractive, sensitive, and sexy… In every country surveyed, the female stereotype was weaker and less active than the male stereotype” Because I am a girl, and because I have grown up with these views, I am not overly surprised with the survey’s findings. For as far back as I can remember I have watched television shows, watched movies, and been told that girls behave in these ways. Its hard for me to tell if I honestly do have some of these characteristics or if they were just forced on me. However, I do know that not all girls fit within these stereotypes. Heck! I don’t fit all of them! Come on, superstitious is a little bit odd!
– Girls have the right to express themselves with originality and enthusiasm.
“Fifty-one percent of girls surveyed said that they experience stereotypes that limit their right to express themselves with originality and enthusiasm. Over a third (37 percent) of girls indicated that they feel constrained by these stereotypes, saying they don’t like them.” It’s true, even if we try to deny it, we don’t do things that other people don’t approve of. Girls in particular feel the stress to be cool, popular, liked, and normal. So if a girl’s interests are viewed as strange she tries to hide them. For example, I have always loved the Harry Potter series. I was an extreme “Potter” nerd in the sense that I had read all the books multiple times, owned all the movies, and even played Harry Potter related video games. But because most of the people I knew considered Harry Potter a “dorky” boy series I had to hide my love for it. It wasn’t until late in my high school years, when I met a couple of other girls that liked it, that I was able to admit how I felt about it. Wow! After writing that out I realize how sad it is that I didn’t feel secure enough to talk about what I loved. What’s sadder is that I am sure I’m not alone.
– Girls have the right to take risks,to strive freely, and to take pride in success.
“While over half of high school boys (55 percent) indicate that they have high self-confidence, less than half of girls (39 percent) indicate that this is true” I am almost certain that girls have low self-confidence because of the high expectations placed upon them. Lets think about it. Its deemed acceptable for boys to get into fights, wear comfortable clothes, get the occasional bad grade, and be loud. While girls are expected to do the exact opposite. Whether it’s in the media, through teachers, or through parents, girls are given exceedingly high standard to follow.
– Girls have the right to accept and appreciate their bodies.
“Sixty-two percent of girls said they experience stereotypes that limit their right to accept and appreciate their bodies. Older girls are more likely than younger girls to say this (59 percent vs. 37 percent).” Hmmmm…this issue again? Yes! Because it’s a real problem today. The media presents so many girls with the “perfect” body that its hard not to feel insecure when yours doesn’t look that way. Weight is often the biggest issue but beliefs about acceptable breast sizes seem to be a close second. These two combined make an almost impossible girl. The media says a girl should be skinny but have large breasts. The problem is most skinny girls don’t have large breasts. So there are two options: feel insecure or surgically “enhance” your features.
– Girls have the right to have confidence in themselves and to be safe in the world.
“In a 1997 survey of adolescent girls, about half (46 percent) did not always feel safe in the neighborhood where they lived.” We say that we live in a society were women are completely free and safe. Yet girls and women still get harassed in schools and work places. People say that harassment rules work. But how can they when they aren’t enforced? We have just as much right as any man to feel safe, but there is still much to be done before we can achieve that.
– Girls have the right to prepare for interesting work and economic independence.
“Over half of girls (53 percent) said it is true that people think the most important thing for girls is to get married and have children.” It is often said that nowadays there are no limits to what a woman can do. Not entirely true. This is not because we are inferior in some way to men, but because men still put limitations on us. Yes, some women have broken the barrier, but most are still stuck inside. Think for a moment of all the women born in the working class. How many options are presented to them? Think of the upper class. Many people still believe that if a man makes good money a woman should stay at home. These classes are so different yet limitations are on women in each.
Each of my blog posts have discussed stereotypes and pressures placed on women. That is why I considered the Girls’ Bill of Rights a good topic to dive into. These rights certainly should be in place. However, the truth is, in each right I was able to find a way our society does not allow it to take place.