If we are to grow strong resourceful women, we must start parenting in the womb, says Anea Bogue, author of the new book, 9 WAYS WE’RE SCREWING UP OUR GIRLS AND HOW WE CAN STOP: A Guide to Helping Girls Reach Their Highest Potential. Parenting is the hardest job in the world and we are unaware of the cultural programming we instill in our children. But we created this culture and we can change it, Anea adds in this interview with Dr. Nancy,
The Puberty Party Begins at 7 or 8 for Both Boys and Girls.
There’s no doubt that children are maturing younger, but Anea stresses that this is happening to girls without them being armed with the supportive messages to put them in charge of their own decisions.
Anea’s own story is that she felt invincible until the age of 9; then she began to do things according to what boys thought of her. This behavior landed her in an abusive relationship at the age of 16.
She has vowed not to let this happen to her own daughters, and she founded REAL Girls® Workshops to give girls the tools they need to be self-reliant. When the moms expressed their need for the same teachings, she founded REAL Women™ to reach and teach as many girls as possible.
Girls are always girls. Boys become men.
Dr. Nancy told a story about a mother calling her toddler son, “Little Man,” which lead Anea to bring up the point about how culturally, women always remain girls. We continue to be called “girl” at any age and terms of endearment used from infancy on continue to be used by adult men in our lives, while men would be insulted if you continued to call them boys after puberty. This is just one message that continues to perpetuate female inferiority.
Support of other Girls and Women Creates Empowering Self-Esteem
Anea tells about an exercise she calls “sister acknowledgement.” At the beginning of each session, she tells the girls to pick out a name and keep it secret, but to observe that person throughout the session. At the end, each girl tells one positive observation she made about the girl she observed. This is transformative for the girls. They have been taught that to speak positively about themselves (or brag) is conceited. How are they supposed to celebrate their achievements, if they can’t share them with others?
Dr. Nancy says that girls who have gone to all girl schools and played in girl sports have more success in life. They have had the support of the “sisterhood,” have had positive role models and have not been in competition against each other for the attention of boys. Building the sisterhood and connecting with strong, resilient women is necessary if we are to change the way we view ourselves and how culture depicts women.
The Goal is Mutual Empowerment Among Both Men and Women.
Women empowerment is about cultural empowerment. Anea says that a patriarchal society benefits no one. She notes a false sense she has encountered that women’s empowerment means disempowering men. She hopes in her lifetime to see total unity between men and women.
More Stories and How the Movies, “Brave” and “Malificent” Affect Girls’ Self Esteem.
Listen to the interview for more stories about how culture is affecting girls’ and women’s self esteem and what causes bullying and mean girl behavior. Check out Anea’s websites for more about her REAL Girl® and REAL Women™ Workshops, get answers to your questions and be sure to read her book, available at book stores and Barnes & Noble and Amazon. It’s a tremendous resource for building awareness of how we unconsciously perpetuate our gender attitudes about ourselves and our children.