Stop demonising teen girls
You know what I’m sick of hearing? Pretty much everyone in my life demonising teenage girls.
As a mother of one daughter and one son, I’m forever hearing comparative predictions of how my boy will be a handful in his younger years and my girl will be an absolute horror come puberty.
When we, as an entire society, put that blanket assumption and expectation on a generation and gender, surely it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
Or, maybe, just maybe, it isn’t true at all.
I was a troublesome teenager at times… OK, for a solid year or two I was grounded more often than not, mostly due to the fact I had a boyfriend my parents loathed.
But, you know what? He, his friends and most of the boys I knew, were never punished as harshly for the same, or worse, behaviour.
A girl caught with a boy? Harlot.
A girl caught drunk? Skank.
A girl caught sneaking out? Conniving b****.
The boys, the brothers, the boyfriends? Well, that’s just normal, right? Boys will be boys and all that.
Or as one mother friend put it: “Girls can get themselves pregnant.” Newsflash, my friend: No one gets THEMSELVES pregnant.
I was having this very conversation at work the other day and I’m sure my colleagues thought I needed to build a massive bridge and get over the following anecdote:
When I was 15, my parents saw my boyfriend with a love bite on his neck. I wasn’t allowed to leave the house for anything other than school for six weeks.
When my brother was 15, he came home with a love bite and my mother’s response was: “Some tramp has gotten a hold of my baby!”
Yes, 20 years later, I dwell.
Children’s authors are very good at living in the past. I remember my childhood so vividly and draw on those experiences in my stories.
And, I hope, that strength of memory will mean I don’t subject my daughter to the same discrimination when she hits her teens.
As for the rest of the world giving her the benefit of the doubt… I’m, sadly, not confident.