As someone who passionately works with teenage girls what I’m about to say may seem strange or even (ridiculously) like a betrayal but here goes…
I am more worried about raising my sons than my daughter.
I work with tween and teenage girls and it’s my absolute passion. I write books and go into schools with the sole purpose of helping our girls realise their potential. My resources list for tween and teen girls is looooong and brimming with books and podcasts and websites and magazines and documentaries and school workshops which are designed to light a fire inside our girls. Hell, I’m an ambassador for a national program from Suncorp, Reach Out and Netball Queensland called #TeamGirls which is all about encouraging our girls to have more confidence in their ideas, their physical abilities, their dreams and their bodies.
My own eight-year-old daughter’s bookshelf is filled with books that make my heart sing: Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls, Amazing Babes and Girls Can Do Anything. I took her to see Hidden Figures on International Women’s Day. We cheered at the Wonder Woman movie. We sit together and watch I Am Malala.
And while it’s pathetic that the gender pay gap still exists and violence against women is still a national disgrace – I cannot help but feel my daughter – our daughters – are going to be okay. The tide is turning. In 2017, women are louder and stronger and bolder than ever before. Men who commit acts of harassment or violence are on notice. The female voices encouraging our girls to not play small and instead be great women who take up space are loud and large in number. On top of that my own experience of the electrifying force and strength of female friendships – to hold you up when you feel like falling, to cheer when you win – fills my heart. As women we are communicators and nurturers and powerhouses.
But I also have two little boys.
And where I feel confidence and excitement for my daughter’s future, I feel fearful for my sons’.
My two little boys (aged four and five) are affectionate and loving and joyful and emotional and vulnerable and kind and they exist in a world that still demands them to hide those qualities. They exist in a world that continues to be dominated by toxic masculinity.