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What it feels like for a girl

September 23rd, 2010 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues | Parenting

I have said before and I will say again that I wanted a son and not a daughter. When the ultrasound showed we were having a girl, I was terrified.

It was hard for me growing up, I was a fat girl and I wore glasses, I was quiet, bookish, I was a dork. I was bullied. But when I look back, as hard as it was sometimes – and as dark as it was sometimes – it was never as bad as the stories I hear these days.

There was no Internet, these people couldn’t get into my home. Rumours could not spread as quickly. There were no camera phones – people couldn’t take pictures of things happening in the moment, or shoot videos and spread them worldwide in seconds.

I was scared to have a girl because I am so very aware of how much it can hurt to be a girl, of how much you can be hurt by boys and men and other girls. I know the words that can be thrown at you, the physical violence, the judgements, the almost always feeling on guard.

I am trying to get over the fact that I now live in a world where potentially a dozen teenagers stood around taking pictures and shooting video while a 16 year old girl was drugged and raped in front of them. I can not imagine how anyone can consider that okay. I can’t imagine the excuses those kids (and some of their parents) are making for themselves now.

Some of them still think it’s a joke. They’re still spreading these photos.

I cannot imagine my daughter going through something like that, and then having it be my job to convince her that life is still worth living and that there are decent people out there in the world. I have a hard time convincing myself.

How do I explain to her why even when the woman is a victim, she still gets the blame, because she was wearing the wrong thing, or in the wrong place at the wrong time, or because she was alone, or because she trusted the wrong person, or because she had one drink too many?

How do I explain to her that while I want her to be able to pick any job she’d like, some people will still tell her there are places she’s not supposed to be?

How do I tell her that she is her own person when her body will always be up for debate?

How do I make her believe that women can change the world when I know that we’re still fighting for someone to let us? It seems like we will always be fighting for someone to listen to us, like women’s issues will always be on the back-burner, like we will always have to start by explaining why our issues are important when men’s issues are assumed to be.

How can I teach her that she will always have to fight twice as hard, because doors just don’t open that easily for girls like us?

She’s going to have hair in a ponytail and glasses, and she’s always going to be the girl in the movie who has to get the makeover before she means anything to anyone.

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