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The barriers need to be broken before girls across the world achieve their true potential.

Breaking down barriers for girls across the world …

All over the world today millions of people are celebrating the first International Day of the Girl Child. But many others will likely question why we need a day that focuses just on girls – don’t we already have an International Women’s Day, a strong feminist movement, and countless policies and programs designed to fight gender inequality?

girlworldwide-image www.goodgirlsgo.com

The reality is that the world is only now starting to realise that tens of millions of girls face daily discrimination, poverty and violence, simply because they were born female.

One in three girls around the world is denied an education by the daily realities of poverty, discrimination and violence.

Girls have been explicitly mentioned in annual themes for International Women’s Day just three times in the past 100 years. The combination of their gender and age renders them almost invisible.

Girls are especially vulnerable due to their age and often complete lack of power or control over their lives. This means a different, and perhaps more urgent, response is required if we are to harness their potential to create a better life for themselves and their children, a more prosperous, peaceful community and a healthier workforce.

That’s why Plan International lobbied the UN to declare October 11 the International Day of the Girl Child.

Of course, girls and boys have the same entitlements to human rights, but they face different challenges in accessing them – girls are less likely to complete school, have less opportunity for meaningful work, are more likely to be living with HIV and AIDS, and are more likely to experience rape or other forms of sexual violence.

Each year, more than 10 million girls are forced to marry as children, which usually means an end to their education, and a life of ill-health and poverty.

Dealing with the specific needs and rights of girls is key to breaking cycles of poverty with benefits for everyone – boys and girls, men and women. For example, as a country’s primary school enrolment rate for girls increases, so does its gross domestic product per head.

In fact, education is one of the best ways to help girls to move from poverty to opportunity. An educated girl will be more likely to marry later in life and have fewer, healthier children, who will be three to 10 times more likely to survive.

For every extra year of high school, a girl’s future income increases by 15 to 25 per cent. With the opportunity to earn a living, she will pull herself out of poverty and bring her children along with her. She will invest what she earns in them – in their health, education and futures.

But one of the most pressing challenges facing girls is access to quality education. One in three girls around the world is denied an education by the daily realities of poverty, discrimination and violence. That’s 75 million girls out of school.

Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as enrolling more girls in school. What they learn, and the conditions they learn in, are crucial factors. In Australia, we often hear complaints of children leaving school unable to read or write properly. In schools around the world, millions of girls are learning that they are inferior, and that their main purpose in life is to have children. And for too many girls, school is a place where they suffer bullying, violence and even sexual abuse.

Girls and boys need an education that provides them the skills they need for life, including the confidence and capabilities they need to be active, equal citizens, and to have positive relationships with others. If we can achieve this, everyone benefits.

Plan’s newest State of the World’s Girls report, called Learning for Life, highlights the fact that adolescent girls are particularly at risk of missing out on their education. It shows that there has been great progress in increasing primary enrolment for girls, but when they reach adolescence, the pressure of poverty and expectations of their reproductive and domestic roles results in a significant increase in the numbers of girls dropping out of school.

The ”Because I am a Girl” campaign, being launched on this first International Day of the Girl Child, aims to break down the barriers to ensure that all girls, as well as boys, receive at least nine years of quality education.

As we approach the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, the world will be debating what should be included in the new road map for global development and sustainability.

There is no better place to start than making quality education for girls an urgent priority.

Ian Wishart is chief executive of Plan International Australia.

What happens when a girl hears she’s pretty. Video to watch here.

“Who’s my pretty girl?”

A saying like this might come naturally when raising a girl but it could also be the reason why she isn’t interested in math and science.

A new ad, created by Verizon and Makers, shows how social cues could be responsible for girls’ lack of interest in science and math later in life.

powerofprettywide-620x349 www.goodgirlsgo.com

In fact, sixty-six per cent of 4th grade girls say they like science and math but only 18 per cent choose to study engineering at college, reveals the ad.  

The ad follows the story of Samantha from a toddler to a teen.

Samantha is portrayed as having an interest in science. But her parents unknowingly discourage her every step of the way, until she is no longer interested.

When Samantha wonders through the woods, her mum says, “Sammy, sweety don’t get your dress dirty.”

At the beach, when she shows an interest in a star fish her dad tells her, “Sam honey, you don’t to mess with that.”

The final straw for the teen is while building a science project with her brother. Her dad catches her using a power tool and says, “Wow careful with that, why don’t you hand it to your brother?”

Narrated by Girls Who Code founder, Reshma Saujani, the ad delivers an important message.

Words can have a lasting effect on young children, rather than highlighting how pretty she is, “Isn’t it time we told her she’s pretty brilliant too?”

“Encourage her love of science and technology and inspire her to change the world.”

Henry Sapiecha

UN says Iraq jihadists order female genital mutilation

Geneva (AFP) – The United Nations said on Thursday that jihadists in Iraq have ordered all women between the ages of 11 and 46 to undergo female genital mutilation, but experts quickly cast doubt on the claim.

Iraq jihadists order female genital mutilation image www.goodgirlsgo.com

The UN’s second most senior official in Iraq, Jacqueline Badcock, told reporters in Geneva via video conference: “It is a fatwa (or religious edict) from ISIS, we learnt about it this morning. We have no precise numbers.”

The Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), took over large swathes of the country last month and has begun imposing its extreme Salafist interpretation of Islam.

But several experts have speculated that the fatwa may have been a hoax, and a number of journalists said on Twitter that their contacts in Iraq had not heard of it being issued.

Charles Lister, visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center and expert on Iraqi and Syrian extremist groups, said the UN claim appeared to be based on a “quite clearly faked statement” that began circulating online on Wednesday.

“It would certainly be a very big coincidence if the UN source was separate but happened to arise at the same time as this fake statement online,” he said.

“FGM just doesn’t fit with the Islamic State’s image, notwithstanding how brutal an organisation it has proven itself to be,” he added.

A spokesman for the UN in Geneva told AFP that “checks” were underway in Iraq, and that until then “nothing had changed.”

Badcock earlier said that if you took UN population figures as a guide, around “four million girls and women could be affected” by the alleged fatwa.

Female genital mutilation is unusual in Iraq and is only practised in “certain isolated pockets of the country”, she added.

She said only 20 families from the ancient Christian minority now remain in Mosul, the northern Iraq city which ISIS has taken as the capital of its Islamic state. Most have reportedly fled north into Kurdish-controlled territory.

Badcock said some Christians have converted to Islam, while others have opted to stay and pay the jiyza, the tax on non-Muslims the Islamic State has imposed.

Henry Sapiecha

ARE YOU SINGLE BECAUSE YOU ARE AN ALPHA FEMALE?

Over the past decade New York psychotherapist Dr Sonya Rhodes noticed a pattern in the women coming to her practice. All were “self-confident, accomplished, sexual” but there was something missing — they complained about being “unhappy and frustrated by their lack of success in relationships” she writes in her new book The Alpha Woman Meets Her Match. How Today’s Strong Women Can Find Love and Happiness Without Settling.

alpha-female image www.goodgirlsgo.com

Dr Rhodes, a relationship expert with  30 years’ experience, considered why these “new Alpha women”, were failing to find someome to share their lives with. She concluded that instead of looking for a man as successful as themselves, they should reject an Alpha man in favour of their “dependable, responsible, and supportive” Beta opposite — a man who “might just make the best fit” she says.

A typical Alpha woman is self-reliant, can explore her sexuality and make her own life choices, says Dr Rhodes and she is on the rise in education and the professions. But all too often she thinks her perfect partner is someone like her. However a partnership of two Alphas is a recipe for disaster, according to Dr Rhodes. “Clinical experience has shown me that this partnership is at the greatest risk for divorce, because two Alphas will tend to compete for power and dominance” she writes. You only have to think of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin to see how two Alphas might clash.

The type of man she should be looking for is not afraid of strong women she says. “He is cooperative but not compliant, accomplished but not a workaholic, assertive but not confrontational. He is the man many contemporary women have been waiting for, but he is not adequately appreciated in a culture where the Alpha male has reigned supreme.”

Her relationship advice couldn’t be more timely. Australian women are increasingly out-earning men. According to research commissioned by the National Australia Bank (NAB) they have reported being the main breadwinner in 39.5 per cent of households. This is an increase of 10.7 per cent since 2008, when 28.8 per cent of women identified themselves as the main household income earner.

But why does choosing a Beta man sound like opting for second best?

Dr Rhodes says she is not suggesting that women marry beneath them. “The Beta male is a ‘catch’ because he is programmed for partnership” Dr Rhodes tells Life & Style. “He is highly desirable to women who want to share the responsibilities of having a family and working with a supportive, caring man. The Beta male is so secure he is not threatened by the Alpha woman. He will support and respect his partner and care about what is important to her. I think this is pretty terrific.”

Karen Chaston from Sydney says she has been the Alpha female for most of her 36-year marriage. She says her husband was very happy to let her follow her career ambitions which saw her rise to the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a publicly listed company. “He is very secure within himself. He never felt less of man with me earning more money than him” she says. “It worked well in our family with my husband bringing up our sons. He is very close and has a special relationship with his sons.”

Dr Rhodes points out there is a big difference between a Beta man and an Omega man. The Omega “is the ultimate narcissist, feeling entitled to live off anyone who will support him and make little, if any, contribution to the household. He may play video games all day, drink an excessive amount of beer, surf the net, and generally enshrine his adolescence. He has no job with which to self-identify and looks down on working stiffs. Do not—ever—confuse the Beta darling with the Omega leech. They are quite different.”

But what if you are already married to an Alpha male? Is your relationship doomed? No, says Dr Rhodes. “If you are married to an Alpha it is important to identify your own goals and to present them confidently to your partner. You need to have a strong ego so that you share power and are not dominated by a strong male. There should be room in all relationships for two people to pursue their dreams.”

Henry Sapiecha

Esquire writer bravely deems 42-year-old women f-ckable

Long before there were listicles on the internet, magazine editors have devised the art of folding numbers into headlines to create intrigue.  And while women’s glossies tend to revolve around stories like “37 new winter looks under $500”, and “17 juice cleanses that won’t kill you”, the brains behind men’s magazines have focused their energy on a different kind of statistics – women’s sexual shelf life.

sofia marrow model image www.goodgirlsgo.com

42-year-old actress Sofia Vergara. Photo: Esquire/ Marc Hom

This month, Esquire writer Tom Junod has struck gold with his very own exclusive ‘numbers’ story. In the August issue of the magazine, Judod boldly declared it socially acceptable to sleep with 42-year-old women in 2014:

“Let’s face it: There used to be something tragic about even the most beautiful forty-two-year-old woman. With half her life still ahead of her, she was deemed to be at the end of something—namely, everything society valued in her, other than her success as a mother.

“ If she remained sexual, she was either predatory or desperate; if she remained beautiful, what gave her beauty force was the fact of its fading. And if she remained alone… well, then God help her.”

hot older women image www.goodgirlsgo.com

The story appears in the same edition that features 42-year-old Cameron Diaz wearing a smoking one-piece swimsuit on the cover, hinting at a brave future where (a very short list of) hot ‘early middle age’ women are no longer completely gross to sleep with.

According to Junod, the shortlist of acceptable 42-year-olds include: Cameron Diaz, Sofia Vergara, Leslie Mann and Amy Poehler. In case one is curious about what sparked this sudden liberation, Junod explains it thusly:

“Changes in sexual fashion are always mysterious. We assume that sex is a biological function, and therefore both beneath and

above the mere flutterings of style.”

Of course, men are not above succumbing to ‘mysterious sexual trends’. Just ask bromedy makers who gave relevance to ‘MILFs’ in today’s society, or the gossip columnists who pioneered ‘cougar spotting’ in the first place.

To make up for their advanced years, however, these female celebrities not only have to look beautiful but must also demonstrate a sense of humour about not being Kate Upton.

“It is no accident that every woman mentioned here has comic as well as carnal appeal, and entices with the promise of lust with laughs.”

Though above all, they mustn’t let their bodies go: “Of course, they have to work for their advantage; they have armored themselves with yoga and Pilates even as they joke about the spectacle. Still, what has made them figures of fantasy is not that they have redefined the ideals of female strength but rather their own vulnerabilities.”

But not all funny hot ladies would make the cut. Sarah Silverman (now 43), who hit back at critics for age-shaming, has apparently missed the boat to sleep with willing, trend-aware men out there.

Well, for Silverman and other celebrities who didn’t make it on Judnod’s f-ck list, there is always Tina Fey’s (now 44) wise words to reflect on: “I have a suspicion that the definition of ‘crazy’ in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.”

Because here’s nothing worse than a smart older women who refuses to shut the hell up about her sexual status quo, right?

Henry Sapiecha

WOMAN – SONG VIDEO BY JOHN LENNON HERE YOU TUBE

 Beatles John Lennon song on  ‘women’ video here

OOO

Henry Sapiecha

WAKE ME UP WHEN I’M SKINNY T SHIRT

 

A screen grab from the Pea in the Pod Maternity website.

skinny t shirt woman image www.goodgirlsgo.com

Celebrities showing off their ‘baby bumps’ on glossy covers and weekly ‘how I got my body back’ magazine features continue to peddle the message that regular, healthy pregnant bodies are simply not up to scratch. But why simply read about it when you could walk around selling the message yourself?

American retailer A Pea in the Pod Maternity (not to be confused with the Australian company of the same name) is selling a shirt for pregnant women with the words “Wake Me Up When I’m Skinny” emblazoned across its front, and it’s yours for just US$48.

Pregnant women need many things in the lead up to the birth of their child – support, rest, and positive vibes, for starters. What they don’t need is a demeaning slogan that reinforces the idea that there is something wrong with their bodies during pregnancy, a tacky shirt that makes light of the wondrous fact that they are growing a human inside their body.

As Jezebel points out, everyone knows “pregnant women who have the audacity to put on weight should just shutter themselves away and fall into long, deep slumbers like Sleeping Beauty so no one ever has to see them when they are not skinny.”

You would really think a company that exists for, and because of, pregnant women would be a little more supportive. Sigh.

Source: Jezebel

Henry Sapiecha

YOUR LADY PARTS CAN BE DESCRIBED AS SOME OF THESE EUPHEMISMS USED OVER THE YEARS

The days of yore brought with them some incredibly obscure words and phrases to describe a lady’s undercarriage. The following examples are taken from a list of Georgian Age euphemisms that also provides helpful explanations for some of the more confusing phrases.

naked woman with fig leaf cover on privates image www.goodgirlsgo.com

16 euphemisms for your lady parts

It’s been a linguistic stumbling block since Eve first covered hers up with a fig leaf … just how do we describe the female genitalia?

As you can imagine, working on a parenting website with a predominately female staff, the subject of the female anatomy comes up quite a bit.

Whether we’re talking about cakes that are decorated to look like a baby being born, the weird and wonderful symptoms of early pregnancy or what not to say to a woman during labour, you can bet that the vagina is front and centre (no pun intended) of the conversation.

As such, I’ve been privvy to some pretty colourful euphemisms for the female genitalia. From a parenting perspective, you can see how finding a name to help little girls identify what’s going on down there can be problematic. For a boy, insisting on the correct anatomical name for his penis is no big deal. But for a girl, calling it her ‘vagina’ is not always going to be correct. In fact, little girls predominantly want a word for the external business – in which case vagina is incorrect, but there aren’t many little girls running around calling it a ‘vulva’ – nor many adults, for that matter.

And so, the euphemisms. There are many. Some gross. Some creepy. Some not having even the vaguest thing to do with female genitalia. In case you’re looking for a catch-all phrase for your little ones to use, we’ve compiled an extensive, but by no means exhaustive, list of the names we use to refer to our lady bits.

1. Bottomless pit

I’m guessing this was to make men who were less well-endowed feel better about themselves.

2. Burning shame

Names gone by …

“OK kids, you’ve got five more minutes in the bath. Matthew, make sure you wash your willy, and Penny, give your burning shame a good clean.” Hmmm. Not gonna fly.

3. Carvel’s ring

According to legend: “Hans Carvel, a jealous old doctor, being in bed with his wife, dreamed that the devil gave him a ring, which, so long as he had it on his finger, would prevent his being made a cuckold. Waking he found he had got his finger the Lord knows where.”

4. Crinkum Crankum

A crinkum crankum was initially a colourful way to explain something that was intricate or elaborate, with lots of twists and turns. According to World Wide Words, it then also became crude slang for “a woman’s commodity: the private parts of a modest woman, and the public parts of a prostitute.”

5. Difference

This one isn’t from the Georgian era, but it’s still old-fashioned. “My gran called it her ‘difference’,” explains one Kidspot staffer. “Once she was heard calling out to my sister who was walking along a fence, ‘Come off of there – you’ll split your difference!’”

6. Minge

Pronounced to rhyme with ‘binge’, minge is popular in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

7. Map of Tassie

It’s a geography lesson and a slang phrase all in one. Superb.

8. Front bum

Ew. Just ew.

Cutesy and ladylike

A ladylike lady needs a pretty name for her bits, no?

9. Mini, fufu or lala

All very cute – also great if you’re looking for a name for your new Maltese terrier.

10. Wick-wack

This sounds like something you would make out of wood on school camp.

11. Fairy cake

And all of a sudden, every birthday party I had up until the age of nine takes on a dirtier connotation.

12. Cookie or muffin

What is it with baked goods being synonymous with private parts?

13. Lady garden

This one has had something of a revival of late, and is rather fun to say, albeit in an ironic, faux-Victorian tone.

Rhyme or abbreviations

For whatever reason, the word ‘vagina’ still trips up even the most cunning linguists. It’s as though they start to say it and then chicken out at the last minute, which is where we get a whole lot of colourful alternatives.

14. Vajayjay

This I like. It kind of sounds like your vagina is part of a hip-hop due. “Introducing MC Vulva on the mic and Vajayjay on the ones and twos!”

15. Vajutz

Looks and sounds a little Yiddish, but is best said with the air of an Italian mobster slapping his sidekick around the head. “Eh! You stoopid vajutz!”

16. Giney

Sounds like the name of a girl you might encounter at a posh English boarding school. Which means, like ‘Fanny’, it is actually quite fitting.

If those aren’t enough for you, and you prefer a little fire and brimstone in the phrases you use to describe your bits, this guy has some truly amazing ideas

Henry Sapiecha

Compliments of kidspot

WOMEN & GIRLS CAN HAVE AN EMBARRESSING WEE PROBLEM

WEE PROBLEM FOR SOME WOMEN CAN BE EMBARRASSING

WOMAN WITH PANTIES DOWN IN TOILET IMAGE www.goodgirlsgo.com

When I was in year four, my best friend and I were playing tennis. She turned to go inside, and walked smack into a glass door. I laughed so hard I … well, she wasn’t the one that did a most embarrassing thing that day – I peed myself laughing. As undignified as it was, my age made it slightly more socially acceptable (there were pinky swears involved and talks of things being taken to graves.) Fast-forward many, many years and I found myself once again staring down the business end of laughing until I disgraced myself when something tickled my funny bone … or I sneezed, coughed or jumped around. Not because my life is so hilarious/active, but because I had two 10-pound babies, delivered au naturel. Goodbye pelvic floor muscles, see you in a few.

In fairness, I frequently and blatantly lied to my GP, my midwife and possibly a little to myself about “doing my Kegels” – an 80’s throwback expression for what we now call pelvic floor exercises. With the bliss of ignorance, it wasn’t until I’d had my two little heffalumps that I discovered wishful thinking and a devil-may-care attitude doesn’t translate to tightly toned pee-regulating muscles post-birth. If you take one thing from this article, make it this – you really will repent at leisure if you don’t do them; it took years to get myself back in pre-pregnancy working order (the same exercises that help prevent loss of control also help treat most cases.) While I’m grateful I had still retained a lot of muscle control, I did have to pass over my preferred energetic exercises for much more low-key options for quite some time, and there were definitely occasions I was glad to be at home alone when watching a particularly funny episode of Friends.

One thing I did discover during my time of legs-crossed-when-laughing is public perception has progressed. If I had been born 20 or 30 years earlier, this whole topic would have been cause for great secrecy and embarrassment. But marketing boffins have been hard at work since 2009 to give us a new take on (to steal from the good people in the tampon marketing industry) “leakage freakage.” One of the better efforts goes to TENA Lady, who released an advertising campaign featuring the evolution of women’s fashion from corsets to slinky slips to ask consumers the question – Fashion has evolved, shouldn’t bladder protection? Yah.

But wait: there’s more: in a case of Celebrities: they ARE just like us, actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg, as a spokesperson for Poise, candidly spoke about the condition in a TV spot that ran during an Oscars pre-show – i.e. serious prime time. The ad also featured Goldberg speaking about the condition through the lens of different, historical female personalities. “I went [loud sneeze] and my God, such a puddle,” says Goldberg, who was dressed as the Statue of Liberty.

While the marketing men are merely after our dollars (incontinence garments have exploded into a mutli-billion dollar cash cow), there have been benefits beyond improved products on the shelves. The push to remove the stigma surrounding bladder control issues, especially in those in the younger age groups, has seen incontinence become much less of a taboo subject – not something to be enjoyed, but not something to be ashamed of either. That’s a good thing when you consider incontinence problems are experienced by more than 18 percent of women who’ve had one child, nearly 25 percent of women who have had two children, and 32 percent of women who’ve had three or more. This means more women will read about it (and hopefully get in at the prevention end of the story), more women will seek help, and we’ll all feel a lot less awkward about the subject if we do need help.

FREE HELPER ALERT – The Continence Foundation of Australia has released the Pregnancy Pelvic Floor Plan smartphone app to help you stay on top of your pelvic floor exercises. It’s available from the App Store and from Google Play for Androids.

Henry Sapiecha

THESE ARE SOME OF THE WAYS YOUNG GIRLS ARE BEING SCREWED UP WITH OUR FEAR OF SEX

Teens in love head pic image www.goodgirlsgo.com

The most panicked calls and emails that I receive from parents are the ones that go something like this: “We just found K-Y lubricant in my daughter’s room! We are furious and terrified. How soon can we see you?!”

We could replace the K-Y Jelly with any number of signs of sexual “awakening” or activity, and they would all be equally unsettling for many parents of girls. The uncomfortable and scary feelings that come up often lead us to imagine locking her in her room until she’s thirty (or at least twenty-one), just so that we don’t have to deal with it.

Fear leads some parents to take extreme, restrictive actions that can be more damaging than they are protective because they tell her it is wrong for her to have sexual desires. We perpetuate the absurd notion that female sexuality is either nonexistent or shameful, and ultimately, we prompt her to disconnect from her body—the same one we that want her to love and protect.

Given that the healthy sexual development of our girls is an absolutely fundamental part of their healthy development overall, failing as her guides in this realm means screwing her up on multiple levels—so we need to get it together. This is a really tough one for many of parents, because our thoughts and feelings around the subject of sex are loaded with programming.

The way in which we, as women and men, see ourselves as sexual beings has been determined largely by this programming, and it quickly makes its way to the surface and affects the way in which we perceive our daughters as they begin to discover and explore their sexuality.

The average mum is terrified that her daughter’s sexual activity will deem her a “slut,” and the average dad knows that she could be objectified by boys and men, just as he was programmed to do. Both are terrified—whether they can define it or not—that this objectification of their daughter will make her a target for ridicule, abuse, rape, or worse. In some cases there is even concern about her behavior bringing shame to her family! We begin to ooze this fear from the mument we even think about our daughter’s entry into this realm.

And how does all this fear impact a girl’s perception of herself? There are six really big and very connected problems with all this fear swirling around a girl’s budding sexuality:

1. Human beings rarely make wise choices from a place of fear. Rather, we make rash, unreasonable, extreme choices that often yield the opposite results of what we were hoping for. In this case, our fears can lead us to make poor parenting choices that fail to protect our daughters. Simply saying “no” or implementing extreme restrictions first and foremost makes her associate the feeling of shame with her sexuality.

Second, it will lead her to stop asking questions and seeking accurate information about sex. This puts her at much higher risk for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Third, it can prompt her to explore in more secretive, less supervised, and less safe settings, like the back seat of someone’s car.

2. Because she will undoubtedly feel our fear, she will naturally make associations between her sexual desires and fear. Imagine if in the weeks and months leading up to her first day of kindergarten, you were exuding fear. She would naturally view going to kindergarten as something scary, and this would hinder her ability to be fully present and capable of getting the most out of the experience.

In the case of her sexual development and desires, she makes the same association, and she, too, becomes more apt to make choices from a place of fear rather than ones rooted in strength and clarity. (Think: “I was afraid he wouldn’t like me if I said ‘no.’”)

3. With this strong message from her parents and myriad similar messages out in the world in tow, by the time she reaches middle school, she begins to face a very common dilemma. She realizes there are only two paths to choose from when it comes to her sexuality, and both are dangerous. She will be shamed for being a “prude” or a “tease” if she isn’t sexually active, and she will be shamed for being a “slut” or a “whore” if she is. No matter what, she’s still expected to be sexy.

In either case, someone other than herself is dictating what is acceptable or unacceptable sexual behavior. This frequently leads a girl to feel a lack of power over her own sexuality, and she will begin to disconnect from her sexual desire and, inevitably, from her body. (Deborah Tolman speaks to this dilemma at length in Dilemmas of Desire.)

4. When a girl disconnects from her sexuality and her body, several things happen that put her in danger. She stops being the gatekeeper of her body. She stops being actively responsible for listening to what feels good and what doesn’t, determining who touches her and how, and fiercely protecting herself.

Instead, she explains away her sexual behavior as having “just happened” (easily explained away if she gets “drunk” first). She defers to what someone else determines feels good or doesn’t, and she is much less likely to insist that protection is used if it does “just happen.” 2

5. This also sets our boys up to receive mixed messages they are underprepared to interpret. When a girl doesn’t feel like she can own her sexuality and be in charge of her sexual desires without shame, she will expect the boy to take the lead. This can prompt a boy to think that he has permission to go way further than he actually does.

Couple that with the societal (“Man Box”) message that he is supposed to be dominant and that he’s a “faggot” if he’s not, and you’ve got a recipe for sexual aggression. Current studies show that as many as one in three high school girls has been sexually assaulted by a dating partner. None of us wants this for our daughters, nor do we want our sons to learn about this sexual dilemma through a rape charge.

6. Lastly, all this fear, feeding on itself and growing, leads us to over-manage and under-value female sexuality. We perpetuate the shaming and subject our girls and our boys to the same programming that has been passed from generation to generation—and once again, the cycle continues.

The impact that these fears have on a girl’s development—sexual, psychological, physical, and emotional—is extremely detrimental and there is a strong likelihood that she will carry this disconnection from a core part of her being well into adulthood. We simply cannot underestimate how important it is that we ensure that she has every opportunity to become a well-informed, shame-free, sexual being.

Henry Sapiecha