The other day I took my daughter with me to the dry cleaners. As we were talking, ( I was getting pants tailored) I told her, “Girls are smarter than boys. Remember that.”
A woman in the dry cleaners looked appalled. She said to me, “Well we women need strong men. It’s important to have strong men.”
I looked at my daughter again, right in those impressionable toddler eyes and said, “Girls are smarter than boys honey.”
The woman repeated her diatribe, and I placated her with, “Of course, of course”, and then the conversation ended.
Look, I’m not anti-boy. I know there are plenty of smart men in the world, but that’s not what this is all about.
What I wanted to tell that woman was, “We women don’t need anyone but ourselves, but we may indeed want someone else.”
We don’t need some dude to come rescue us.
I’m not Rapunzel stuck in a tower, and neither is my girl.
This is the same little 2.5 year old that will tell the big boys at the park, “Watch out,” and “Hey, don’t do that big boy!”
My daughter doesn’t need to “need” anyone.
The fact is, a smart boy will always get attention in this world, but a smart girl may not.
As a very smart kid myself, by the time I hit High School, very few of my teachers cared, but I would be damned to find one smart boy who was getting ignored. I am sure it happens, but not as often with females.
When I was in fifth grade, my teacher sat me down like she did all the other kids to review my report card.
She said to me, “Well you got all A’s Laura. That’s very good.”
I looked at her, because to be honest, this was typical for me. School came easy. But then she hit me with a brick.
“It’s very good, but you didn’t really deserve it.”
I looked at her, wanting to say, “Well why the fuck not?”
And yup, those were my thoughts indeed.
“You flirt too much with boys, wear dangly earrings, and talked to much to your friends. You didn’t really deserve it, but you did get all A’s.”
I would like to know if she told any of the smart boys that they didn’t deserve their grades because they spent time flirting with girls, and wearing tight jeans and wigwams.
Sure, I was a flirt and a chatterbug, but damnit, I did the work and earned what I earned.
It was comments like these and indeed, the distractions of boys, life, and puberty that did turn down my motivation in school later on for a few years, although it came back.
Studies show that smart girls are less motivated to work hard when things get tough than boys.
We are rewarded to please and therefore when things get hard for us, girls as a whole would rather choose the easy route and succeed than risk something more difficult, only to fail. And, girls believe intelligence is innate, while boys believed it came from hard work according to this article
According to the same article in Psychology Today, “Bright girls were much quicker to doubt their ability, to lose confidence, and to become less effective learners as a result.”
And as adult workers, we still earn less than men.
Hanna Rosin from Slate.com takes about the gender wage difference here.
With all of this into play, my daughter needs someone to tell her she is smart. She needs someone to dare her to try new things, take on challenges, and not to give up more than the average boy needs to hear it.
So to the woman who told me “Women need strong men,” I say, “Indeed, we may or may not need a strong man, but we need our girls to believe in their abilities. We need our girls to challenge themselves, and not simply focus on their looks, feminine wiles, or domestic charms.”
So I will keep on telling my daughter this, even if there are some boys that may indeed be smarter than her, because she needs to hear something other than how cute she is.
Cute doesn’t make a woman. Piss, vigor, heart, and intellect makes a woman.
Parents, tell your girls they’re smarter than boys today. Try it for one minute.
It might just thrill the heck out of her.
And for those of you that think I am a man-hater, I’m not. Remember, I’m the 5th grade vixen who flirted too much with the objects of her affections to deserve her “all A report card.”
I just know that it takes a strong woman to survive in a world with glass ceilings, gender bias, and media manipulation of the female body.
In fact, I think I’ll teach my daughter to say, “I am woman. Hear me Roar!”
It’s about time I did.