Messages to Our Daughters

Dear Jesus, Bless this post. This one could be a bit touchy.

Something is stirring in my head and my heart this morning. It is something of great importance. Something that could be met with an Aha! or with banishment by leadership. I will do my best to craft this post with wisdom and grace rather than finger pointing and accusation.

My daughters are weighing heavy on  my heart today. As I continue my read in Sue Monk Kidd’s Dance of the Dissident Daughter, I am realizing the many ways in which we continue to allow a subliminal message of less than to be delivered generation after generation to our daughters.

Even more disturbing is the realization that many a proud girl daddy is standing back approving the various practices that perpetuate this message delivery system. At the very least, we stand and watch in silence as it continues year after year after year.

We live in a society that elevates the status of men and their roles above that of women and those who work specifically with women and girls. Rural West Texas may be perpetuating that more than most.

Case in point: Education and Sports as it relates to leadership.

Look at the makeup of your school board. Ours is currently all male. At one time there were two of seven who happened to be female.

Look at the makeup of administration. How many superintendents are male? How many finance officers are male? How many curriculum/special programs personnel are male? How many principals are male? And finally, how many teachers, secretaries, and teaching assistants are male?

We are somewhat more progressive in this area than others. We do have a few females at the top. Yet it is still disturbing to me that so many of our teachers are female while such a significant part of our leadership is male. This perpetuates a stereotype that somehow males are more suited for leadership.

I had an opportunity to take a leadership role several years ago. I didn’t want it. I guess I helped perpetuate the patriarchal ideals. Maybe that’s why there is such an imbalance in leadership. Women just don’t want that level of responsibility and men do.

I’m not buying it.

I think it is more a case of how we stereotype people in those roles. Women in leadership are oftentimes seen as bitchy. Difficult. Emotional. Moody. Vindictive. Condescending.

Is this true?

Does being male somehow exclude a person from possessing these characteristics?

I would suggest that if two candidates were placed side by side with equal qualifications, similar personality traits, and everything else being absolutely the same, even a hiring committee made up entirely of women would choose the male. We are THAT conditioned to submit to male leadership. Unfortunately, I would probably be right there with the rest of that committee choosing a man.

So why is it that we are willing to submit to a man who is difficult, emotional, moody, vindictive, and condescending as acceptable leadership material, but those same perceived characteristics in a woman are grounds for running like hell?

Just ponder that for a bit, will you?

Think some more.

More.

Now take a breath.

Part two of my morning psychosis coming up next right after these words from my goddesses.

The Amazon Princess is about to shoot.

Cowgirl dominates the floor.

Teenage Goddess kicks some three-point butt.

The Tigress force-feeds her opponent a tasty snack.

These are the reasons I write.

These are the four amazing women who deserve so much more than a life in which men are seen as physically, intellectually, and spiritually superior simply because they were born with an external appendage.

Don’t get me wrong. I lOVE men. Men are awesome. I made these amazing beauties with one and I still like him alot. I like him in part because he empowers the women in his life. He is probably one of the best girl-daddy’s on this planet.

But he is a rare find.

Back to how education and sports condition girls and women into feeling like they are somehow less than boys and men.

We have a government mandate called Title IX. I haven’t read its fine print. Some people say it means there has to be equity between what is offered to boys and what is offered to girls when it comes to sports in an educational environment. Seems like everyone you talk to has a different take on it. Talk to a man and it means one thing. Talk to a woman and it means a heckuva lot more.

So yeah. We’ve got equity in sports. Because Uncle Sam says so.

Whatever.

How does equity exist when year after year the athletic program is run by someone whose primary job title involves creating a highly successful boys and mens sports program? I’m not suggesting that those men would consciously do something that would undermine the success of the girls’ program, but how is it humanly possible to avoid putting more energy and influence into the program for which YOU are held accountable to the public than you do towards a program that in some cases gets in the way of YOUR program?

Scheduling classes. Hiring staff. Content area teaching positions.

The eyes of the top dawg can’t help but be first and foremost on HIS boys’ program.

Seriously.

When was the last time a school sports program in rural West Texas was run by the head of girls’ athletics? I would love to have some examples. I’m sure they exist. I’m just not familiar with them.

When in history has the search for a head girls’ coach of any sport involved the intense committee search the likes of which are seen when searching for a football coach?

And why is it that we often see almost double the number of boys coaches than girls coaches?

Bottom line, consciously or unconsciously, we value men and boys more than we do women and girls.

Don’t give me that crap about how special our girls are and how we protect them and keep them safe. Cowgirl can body slam your boy to the ground and make him cry any day of the week. She wants to be treated with respect and given the same opportunities the boys get.

And now I find my blogging time is waning and my rant is calming a bit. My challenge to you is to think  long and hard about the subliminal  messages we send to our girls in all areas of life, especially our sports and education. If you are a girl mama reading this, I know you’ll have some thoughts. If you are a girl daddy, and especially if you are in a position of leadership, I trust you will give significant consideration to and reflect about your decisions and how they perpetuate the second class status we are assigning to our young ladies.

It’s not about religion (although I can hammer that wagon mercilessly). It’s about telling our girls they are somehow less than….not as important….not worth as much money or effort…..

Is that really what you want them to hear?

12 Responses to “Messages to Our Daughters”

  • DeeAnn:

    I hear you. I pray for our daughters today, and for peace for them, healing and spiritual growth, faith in God, and in themselves. Love you.

  • Thank you, DeeAnn. I am realizing how I have personally perpetuated this through my beliefs and silence. Time to take some action, but in an effective Wise Woman way and not a bitchy way. Bitchy never works well around here.

  • Very well stated!! Yyou say your going to edit it? I aks you why? Is there something not right about? If you want to add more, the by all means have at it! Lol

    • Just cleaning up some things and correcting typos. What was first posted was everything I could possibly spew onto the page before I had to leave.

      I added a pic of the Tigress.

      I formatted some headings.

      That’s about it.

  • I agree. It bothers me when the football team’s loss is front page news, but the volleyball team’s tie for FIRST PLACE in district is hidden within the back pages of the newspaper. Success breeds success, shouldn’t the wins be front-page news worthy? (Maybe they were going for the bad news first, then good news approach?) It’s kinda screwed up in my mind. We worked our little jumping volleyball butts off and we were still put on the back burner.

    I am woman. Hear me roar.

    Good words, Mom.

  • There is no one to blame in this. Just a much needed eye-opening as to how we all contribute to the perpetuation of this situation.

    Erika makes a great point about how the news priorities of a small town paper can feed it. What other ways do you see that we do this? How can we adjust our focus to send a different message to our girls and women?

  • Claudia Milloway Walker:

    While never much of an athlete myself, I always remember in Jr High the boys practiced in the big gym, and we had to be in the old “crackerbox” gym. I also remember in High School when the school acquired the nice, new Hornet bus, the girl teams could only use it if the boys weren’t. The sad thing about all this is I didn’t even realize how unfair it all was until I was grown with two amazing girls of my own!! That’s how ingrained it is within our society. I didn’t even know to be angry about those injustices?!?!

  • I appreciate your comments, Claudia. Awareness makes lots of difference. Sue Monk Kidd’s book is really hitting home with me and revealing to me areas where even I perpetuate this. There is a significant shift happening, and our girls will most likely be leading the way to make a difference. I don’t think anyone intentionally tries to be gender-biased. It’s just those long standing traditions and practices that do it to us almost without noticing……the “we’ve always done it that way” syndrome.

  • Lisa Gore:

    This topic is close to my heart! If a girl has an opinion that differs from that of the norm—-she is considered bitchy, bossy and cocky. Boys are encouraged to share their thoughts and praised for “thinking outside the box”. I want strong opinioned girls but I have to also accept that they will not win any popularity contest. We absolutely need females on our board—are you going to run? Maybe those of us that don’t “go with the crowd” are going to have to step up to the plate and rattle some cages.

  • If I never see another board, it will be too soon! So no, not likely. It’s not something I can do with a “want to” instead of a “should”.

    I recently had the privilege of seeing someone’s breakdown of what the differences are between “little girl”, “bitch”, and “wise woman” archtypes. The writer is a woman named Lianne Raymond and the writing was posted in a discussion on A Conversational Space, by Ronna Detrick (www.ronnadetrick.com).

    She said:
    1) The little girl – this is where a lot of women are – society teaches girls to be this way – small, shy, deferential, people-pleasing. This is not an authentic place.

    2) The BITCH – when women become tired of being the little girl and decide to speak from the truth they often go all the way over to bitch – which for our purposes here means to be overly agressive, in your face, I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. This is also not an authentic place because it is simply the flip side of little girl – it is a reactive place. It has an angry energy which is usually met with anger in return. Many of us do make a pit stop here on our way to…

    3) The Wise Woman – this is the place where we speak our authentic truth with clarity, without having to make anyone wrong, the energy behind it is one of love for ourselves, for the other and for truth.

    My question is how can move ourselves and our daughters into the Wise Woman archtype? I tend to hand out either in #1 or #2. I’d much prefer to spend my time living as a Wise Woman.

  • Angie, this is an awesome post. I think you nailed it – no bitchiness here – just a “hey, have you noticed… ” and a calling to people to honour their values (their daughters!) – a beautiful unveiling of the truth. Amen.

  • Thank you, Lianne. It’s only just beginning. There are many challenges that lie ahead, and much thinking about how to approach delicate, long-standing traditions. Patriarchy lives here, in our community, and it runs deep. It is time to address it with dignity and grace. Those two are challenging when I want to rip out a jugular vein or two.

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