When Girls don’t want to be Girls

When Beyonce’s ‘If I were a boy’ came out, it was a big hit. I don’t believe it was particularly because of her good singing voice or the music video, though I must admit I have never watched the latter.  I believe it became a huge hit more so because it brought across a message that resonated with many females. In the song Beyonce expresses her desire to experience life as the opposite sex and highlights the ease with which the male goes through life without the scrutiny of larger society as he rolls out of bed, goes beer drinking at leisure and is promiscuous. Beyonce’s song highlights what is inarguably an inequitable society that some believe favour the boy and by extension the adult man.

As an adult female, I can say without controversy that I was blessed to be afforded equity within my home. Coming from a female headed single parent household with six siblings, chores were allocated not based on the sex of the child or what is believed to be the prescribed role for a specific gender. Instead, chore allocations were based on the health and age of the child. Being the youngest, I of course received the lightest chores. In my home everyone had the opportunity to cook, clean etc or should I say everyone must cook, clean and wash. Looking back, I thank my mother who in her wisdom produced children that are well rounded but even more importantly haven’t been subjected to gendered chores and thus will not perpetuate the culture.

Sadly, not all my female peers were as fortunate as I was. Within their homes there seemed to exist the nucleus of inequality and inequity between their male siblings or relative and themselves in the terms of chore allocation and recreational activities and privileges. In addition, this was exacerbated by the fact that the pervading perspective is that the female can become pregnant and so there is the need to constrict or police her activities.  This is of course evokes my ire and should irk any well thinking Jamaican who understands the necessity of both male and female to the reproductive act.  In light of this, what is needed is the education of both sexes by societal institutions about the implications of early sexual engagement and the need for males to be equally sexually responsible.

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In the failure of society to hold males responsible what I have come to realize is that it is not uncommon for young girls, and I speak to the Jamaican reality, to feel unhappy with being a girl.  In their minds, the male is the ideal human being in that he is more privileged than the female- seldom criticized for and reprimanded for being sexually irresponsible (unless he chooses the homosexual lifestyle) or for his failure to participate in the domestic chores, never criticized for being overweight and he is almost never criticized for his mode of dress.  One then has to agree with donkey here, the world indeed isn’t level.  I am therefore afraid that we have spawned a society where girls don’t want to be girls.

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In speaking to some of the younger males the situation becomes even more dismal.  The archaic modus operandi should remain the same-girls should be domesticated and rapaciously subjugated.  To this some argue misogyny.  I on the contrary argue patriarchy.  It is common knowledge that patriarchy crumbles when interfaced with equity and it is for equity that I advocate.

The I’m Glad I’m A Foundation (IGIG) emerged in response to the above reality that many Jamaican girls are unhappy with their status as females.  Particularly, this is true when one descends the rungs of the socioeconomic ladder.  Thus, the IGIG foundation seeks to assist young girls ages 13-17 years to move beyond the mindset that girls were born to suffer and thus the life ahead is one of abuse, illiteracy and domestication.  In the words pf Matt Dunn, “All a (girl) actually wants is to feel special”.  Hence, we also seek to help these girls to appreciate the female anatomy, build their self-esteem and to plan for their careers.  This is done through an annual one week summer camp.  This year the camp will be from July 24th – July 30th, 2016 at the Mary Seacole Hall, UWI Mona with the theme being “RISE” as we encourage them to rise up above the obstacles that society places before them.

-W.S.

Your Best!

I have the best friends. Literally; for every mood I could possibly have I have a friend that can either facilitate it or get me out of it and I love them dearly. It so happened that one day I was having a conversation with one of these girls and she said she thinks that if I wanted to be an A+ student she had no doubt that I would be. Initially, I was immensely flattered- I mean I was of course an intellectual bad-ass if I had the potential to be Awesome and CHOSE not to be *snaps fingers* But on closer examination I realized that I was communicating a very unfortunate message to my friend: Firstly, I didn’t want to be an A+ student and secondly, I simply chose not to be. And at that moment reality hit me upside the head that there was nothing less bad-ass than choosing not to be the awesome that I could be.

The thing with mediocrity is it doesn’t happen overnight; it starts with small decisions. The accepting of the B+ when we know we could have gotten the A, the striving just for the finishing line rather than sticking our heads out for first place or the holding back because we are afraid of falling flat on our faces. Okay, maybe the latter is reason to hold back but seriously What’s more embarrassing than being a second rate version of you? I ask myself when did I stop wanting to be the best and perhaps it started when I got into deeply intellectual conversations where I would come to the conclusion that we were all striving to be the best and when we were all the best it would be an anomaly and I just wouldn’t be special anymore because I would just be another person like the rest or perhaps it started when it just seemed like the more comfortable of the decisions, but either way in holding back I just became the disappointed girl with okay grades and a confused state of mind. I had talked myself out of being the best and had lost my passion as a result.

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You see there is nothing wrong with being passionate and there is nothing wrong with wanting to be the best, even if you end up becoming one of the best because what would have mattered is that you gave of your best. It wasn’t a watered down, candle under a bushel version of yourself but an unapologetic, confident individual who wasn’t afraid to show themselves and by extension the world their true form. Our potential is usually seen by those we are surrounded by but there is a time in our lives when we need to see it, recognize it and claim it for ourselves. Have a first person view of yourself: You are smart, your dreams are valid and worth pursuing. Want them with every particle of your being and choose to pursue them with the best of your ability.

And most importantly, be deliberate in your pursuit. Your achievements are not just sheer luck or some freak accident, it was the result of hard work and dedication and you have a right to not only say it was but also be proud of your effort and the fruits of your labour. Don’t trivialize your success to make someone else feel better (don’t quote me to support your bragging habits either) because it will only make them feel comfortable where they are which will lead to a very serious sense of complacency

But I digress-

The point is Want to be the best and Choose to pursue it; whether it be grades, a dream career, your own business or invention.  You owe the best version of yourself that.  

-M. Bell