Smarty Pants: This One’s for the Girls
Because we’re so much more than sugar, spice, and everything nice.
As “The Day of the Girl Child” approaches, I can’t help but think of what I wish as a woman I had when I was growing up – what was missing for women as a collective. In case you didn’t know “The Day of the Girl Child” was denoted as October 11 by the United Nations to promote girls’ human rights and highlight gender inequalities. Dubbed as a “millennial” which on some days makes me cringe, as the words “lazy”, “entitled” and “narcissistic” are often whispered in the same breath by baby boomers, along with claims of valuing avocado toast over owning a home, I firmly believe we (us Millennial women) were also missing some lessons growing up.
While I will be the first to acknowledge that as a Canadian female, I’ve been privileged to resources, support, healthcare and education that a lot of other females around the world are not as fortunate to have access to. For that, I will be forever grateful. That said, as a developed nation, that is often regarded as a leader on the world stage, we still have a ways to go in bridging the gender gap and solving gender inequalities.
Growing up, for me, I think one of the biggest misconceptions I held was the belief that it was embarrassing to be smart and to achieve academic success – that it was something to be ashamed of. To preface, ever since I started school, I was ambitious. A deep ambition ran through me, ingrained by my parents and their parents before them. The belief that if one worked hard enough, tried hard enough, practiced enough, he or she could achieve success. As a result, I put my mind and my best towards anything I tried. In some areas, despite my best efforts, I could not achieve success – cue most sports. That said, I found learning exciting. I still do. Even if it’s a subject I’m not initially interested in, I like to learn more. I like to try my hardest because I genuinely want to get the most out of my experiences. This keenest, was more often than not, not viewed as a positively by my peers. Especially my male peers.
Whenever I’d get back an exam mark and the teacher would announce who scored the best, I would cringe and hope that my name would not be called. Because I knew what would come if it was.
She’s a nerd.
She tries too hard.
Of course, it’s her. She cares too much.
And then laughter would usually ensue.
My face would turn beet red, and any excitement towards that success would evaporate, and I would be left with shame.
Because to me, being an intelligent female wasn’t something the boys liked or wanted. It wasn’t a quality to strive for. And being ridiculed was proof enough. Instead of being proud of who I was and celebrating my successes, I was left wishing I had boobs, and a butt, and the features that would attract the boys.
Instead, I had frizzy hair, braces, untamed brows and I was as flat as a board.
I remember one of the first questions, my first boyfriend’s friends asked me was “How much would you say you’d be willing to put out? Like if sex is four quarters, would you say you’re three or four quarters?”
I was 12.
At that moment, I realized my intelligence didn’t matter. My values didn’t matter. My interests didn’t matter. I was reduced to being a sexual object, and in the sixth grade nonetheless.
I look back on that moment, and I am disgusted.
The idea of my three-year-old niece being subjected to the same ideologies, gender norms and beliefs makes me sick.
So looking back, I’d have to say I wish there was more support and encouragement as a female given towards being intelligent. Being resilient. Being tenacious. Being bold. Being “too much”, because sometimes being too much is actually a damn good thing.
As we embark on “The Day of the Girl Child” let’s echo the United Nations’ belief to encourage investment in the power of young adolescent girls. Whether we’re teachers, parents, aunts, uncles, friends, peers, mentors, coaches or leaders, let’s encourage girls to be whatever they want to be. Let’s encourage them that it’s more than okay to be “too much” and that it’s a good thing to speak up, to express oneself, to share our ideas.
Because as girls, we’re SO much more than sugar and spice and everything nice.
We are strong.
We are intelligent.
We are brave.
We are bold.
We are nurturing.
We are resilient.
We are fierce.
And we shouldn’t apologize for it.
And we shouldn’t be ashamed of it.
And we shouldn’t ever be made to feel less because of it.
Besides, well behaved women rarely make history anyway.
On this special day, we are bringing the community together to screen Dream, Girl, a documentary showcasing the stories of inspiring and ambitious female entrepreneurs. Join The Ace Class as we welcome a panel of local businesswomen to chat about the barriers of being a women in business.