Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Once Upon a Time: Ready to Serve

It still feels like summer out there, and you better believe that we’ll soak up these warm days for as long as we can, but we’re also thinking ahead to the year before us.  It’s almost September, a month that will bring new journeys for students, folks beginning new jobs, and others making exciting transitions.  We’re thrilled to be welcoming five fabulous women to our board of directors — Lindy Graham, Stefanie Solar, Mary Madden, Trish Hansen, and Kristin Aiello.  The board of directors isn’t the only governing body of Hardy Girls welcoming new faces — below you’ll find the application submitted by 17-year-old Adriana to join our Girls Advisory Board (pictured below), who participate in leadership development, complete social action projects, and generally keep us current on what’s important in the lives of girls.  It was just too good to keep to ourselves!  (And yes, she’s been accepted.)

I believe that women and girls of all ages should be completely comfortable with who they really want to be, rather than being swayed by gendered social expectations to do anything or be anyone they don’t want to do or be.  As a rising senior at Winslow High School, I all-too-often witness young women in my school and group of friends being pressured into fitting some kind of gender stereotype.  I’ll hear guys (even girls’ boyfriends) joke around, saying thinks like, “Why don’t you just go make me a sandwich?” or calling girls derogatory names.  Many girls even seem to embrace these names for themselves and begin jokingly calling each other (and themselves) profane, misogynistic nicknames.

I have begun to understand that these gender-related stereotypes, behaviors, and mindsets are not always obvious.  In most cases, the promotion of gendered social expectations or norms is extremely subtle, which makes the situation even more dangerous.  If girls think it’s funny to or cute to call themselves derogatory names, because they think, “oh, it’s just a joke,” it only trivializes the issue.  I believe that it is essential to view these issues as real problems that actually exist, rather than simply laughing them off or considering them taboo.

I’ve noticed that, often times, people who question these gender norms are considered “crazy feminists”, or labeled dismissively as gay or lesbian.  I want to change this fact.  I want to work to make it mainstream – even cool – to question traditional gender roles.  It’s hard enough for girls to stand up for themselves in situations, such as relationship dynamics.  But I truly believe that every girl can (and should) work to de-normalize these gendered expectations and make the people in her life and community more aware of these subtleties. 

I would like to do anything I can to make these issues important to people – both male and female – and to discuss with people not only the most obvious gendered social problems, but the more subtle ones, as well.  After all, those are often the most difficult to acknowledge and we often brush them aside as minor details.  Especially in high school, the environment is often very unsupportive of these kinds of subtleties and issues.  I believe that a young woman should have a safe and supportive place to discuss anything – even the most seemingly minor thing – that makes her uncomfortable or upset.  I’m confident that by volunteering with Hardy Girls, I would find a great opportunity to pursue this issue about which I am so enthusiastic and passionate while reaching out to others at the same time.

No comments: