Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Girl on Girl Crime
For all of the progress women have made over the last one hundred years, why is it we are still our own worst enemies? Why do we pick on each other so mercilessly?
It's been getting to me lately because not only family members but also close friends of my daughters have been the object of girl-on-girl crime. I'm not sure what one children's author/mom/ aunt/friend can do about it, but maybe if I share my story, it will help other girls to share theirs.
When I was in 7th grade, for reasons I still don't understand, a 6th grader started picking on me. Go figure. A kid a year younger than me. She lived in my neighborhood. We went to the same school. Sometimes, we'd play like great friends. And other times, she'd needle me mercilessly. My father, pacifist male that he is, suggested I sock her one. Don't you love old-school parenting? I couldn't quite work myself up to decking her, even though every time she'd start needling me, it felt like she was socking me one.
The whole situation came to a head when my family was moving. Huge change. My parents were out of town looking for a house. Said kid and I were playing together in the snow. When we were both heading back to our houses, she started needling me again. I tried to turn a deaf ear, i.e. my back, and walk away. She pounced from behind, shoving me down in the snow.
I don't know why that day was different. I don't know why my cup finally overflowed. But I sprang to my feet finally ready to deck her. Yep. Not a proud moment. But empowering. I whirled around and the look that was on my face must have been insane seventh grader crazy. She turned and ran like there was no tomorrow. Better still, she never needled me again. And I never had to sock her one after all.
So, is the moral of the story girls should learn to box? Well...I think what happened that day was bigger than boxing. I finally stood up for myself. I established my boundaries. When I did, the bully realized she couldn't bully me anymore and stopped.
How girls establish boundaries without getting into fisticuffs, though? It's a hard thing to do. To be self-confident when hormone-world is like a roller coaster of craziness inside you. When you feel ugly even though your parents tell you you're pretty. When you sure you don't have the right clothes. The right look. The right anything. It's hard.
But it's possible. Because we girls really are strong on the inside. And we all do have boundaries. They're sacred things, those boundaries are. They are worth sticking up for. In sticking up for them, for ourselves, we become even stronger and more self-confident, and the bullies can't touch that.
So here's a shout out to all girls today. You are strong. You are special. You can do it!!!!!!!!!
And if you want to read about great techniques for sticking up for yourself, try, Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. No socking required!