Why only girls?
A good question with a complicated answer. Bear with me.
GirlSense & NonSense carries the weight of a larger social and political urgency to address the lack of political efficacy and overall sense of power felt by young girls (and women) in our society.
Let’s dissect that rather ambitious, wordy statement with some key figures and statistics:
- According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the sexual objectification of women is a national epidemic and research has only begun to scratch the surface of the mental and emotional effects.
One APA study found exposure to sexually objectifying media has greatly influenced overall conceptions of self-worth in women and other issues including “body shame, appearance anxiety, internalization of cultural standards of beauty, body dissatisfaction, and disordered eating symptoms.” (1)
To understand the depths of our image/body obsessed culture and its effects on young girls: “One study reports that at age thirteen, 53% of American girls are ‘unhappy with their bodies.’ This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen.” (2) “8,000,000 or more people in the United States have an eating disorder. 90% are women. Eating disorders usually start in the teens but may begin as early as age 8.” (2)
Girls need media to reflect their wholeness as human beings, mind and body.
- “Women make up 17% of congress. The 2010 mid-term election is the first time women have not made gains in congress since 1979. 9.67 countries in the world have had female presidents or prime ministers. The United States is not one of them. Cuba, China, Iraq and Afghanistan have more women in government than the US.” (3)
- The Women & Politics Institute reports that the biggest barrier preventing women from running for office is themselves.
In their 2011 study, men were “almost 60 percent more likely than women to assess themselves as ‘very qualified’ to run for office. Women in the sample are more than twice as likely as men to rate themselves as ‘not at all qualified.’ This startling statistic cannot be correlated with political experience or general participation in politics. Women in the study were found to be just as politically engaged as their male counterparts. The study clarifies: “Women’s self-doubts are important not only because they speak to deeply embedded gendered perceptions, but also because they play a much larger role than do men’s in depressing the likelihood of considering a candidacy.” (4)
Let’s bring it all together:
In a culture that values body over mind, the sexual objectification of women in the media results in a decreased sense of self-worth and overall confidence. This, in turn, directly impacts the willingness and confidence of women to seek positions of leadership.
In a representative democracy where only 17% of women make up congress, women are not equally represented and their experiences and stories are effectively silenced.
GirlSense & NonSense is dedicated to simply sharing the stories of young women. Why only girls? Because we’re also a part of larger story, a larger battle, to reclaim the mind, body, and spirit of girls in our society. At the very least in our own community, we aim to be a media outlet which values the experiences of young girls so as to empower them to continue to share their minds in the future.
It has to start somewhere.
I’ll admit, even as a 23-year-old girl/woman, confidence is something I have to work at every day, and especially when it comes to sharing my work with others. In college and even now, my greatest hurdle as a writer was not ever the act of writing itself, but understanding that someone was interested in hearing my story. And once I knew someone was listening, I’ve never felt surer of myself and my art.
I’m listening. GirlSense & NonSense is listening. Are you listening?
P.S. If you’re reading this and you’re a girl: what are you waiting for? Share yourself, your story, your art, your perspective before our August 31st deadline and be featured in our September issue. Click here for submission guidelines.
(1) Szymanski, D. M., L. B. Moffitt, and E. R. Carr. “Sexual Objectification of Women: Advances to Theory and Research 1 7.” The Counseling Psychologist 39.1 (2010): 6-38. American Psychological Association. Web. <http://www.apa.org/education/ce/sexual-objectification.pdf>.
(2) “Teen Health and the Media.” Teen Health and the Media. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2014. <http://depts.washington.edu/thmedia/view.cgi?section=bodyimage&page=fastfacts>.
(3) Ettus, Samantha. “25 Alarm Bells for Women: Sounds from Miss Representation.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 21 Oct. 2011. Web. 25 Aug. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/samanthaettus/2011/10/21/25-alarm-bells-for-women-sounds-from-miss-representation/>.
(4) Lawless, Jennifer, and Richard Fox. Men Rule: The Continued Under-Representation of Women in U.S. Politics. N.p.: Women & Politics Institute, 2012. American University. School of Public Affairs. Web.