This I Believe

Kelly - New Lenox, Illinois
Entered on February 1, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I walk through the halls of my suburban, upper-to-middle class, prodimantely white high school and see things that apparently no one else is aware of. I notice the girls that flaunt there bodies instead of their minds, the boys who encourage sexual harassment and a sexual bias to their friends, the teachers that turn theirs heads instead of correcting it because of the phone call they’d later receive from the parents of such students.

As a high school senior, I believe that ignorance and disregard of the past is the new trend among students. 30 years ago we had girls the same age I as burning bras and pushing towards a more equal world, not only in the workplace but in the education system as well. 30 years ago we had people demanding for equal pay, equal rights, and equal treatment. But instead of hearing the cheers of strikes and boycotting, we hear the giggles of a slowly regressing generation. Girls are slowly being put back into that no-touch-zone, where you can treat us like objects and suddenly, it’s all right again. What’s next, am I going to be told that girls should be seen and not heard, to get back to the kitchen and if I don’t like it, then that’s too bad?

The mothers and the sisters of the fight for equality and respect realized that “accepted” behaviors were not the standards that they needed to live up to- the home wasn’t the only place they could flourish, and they fought and they pushed until they gained the things they deserved: acknowledgement and a right to do what they wanted with their lives. However, that fight is no longer pushing, the flame that once burnt brightly in so many girls and women slowly declining and my generation seems to have forgotten completely what their mothers and grandmothers had to go through.

They don’t understand, or even worse, care what women of the past stood for and promised for future generations. They don’t listen, or feel that they even need to know, about the history of women’s suffrage, the road to equal pay in the workplace, or why it’s even socially acceptable for women to wear denim jeans on a daily basis.

But how has this lack of information become such huge problem? Simple: from the time my generation were children, we’ve been placed to accept that the media is truth. Instead of instilling the ideals that my mother had gained when she was younger, to stand on her own feet and make a name for herself, we’ve had Disney movies and TV programming that’s told us we need to be rescued, because we’re princesses and that we shouldn’t do a thing on our own. Instead of placing positive women as role models, we’ve had women like Britney Spears prove that our bodies mattered more than our minds, our hearts, and our ideas- that physical perfection was the only thing worth attaining, and if you were ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’, you had no worth in our society.

This I believe is our biggest problem: the fact that we’re still telling our daughters to have Barbie dolls instead of books, to wear pink instead of deciding for themselves, and that ‘marrying rich’ and staying pretty is better than achieving things and changing the world. We’re turning back into objects and homemakers, sex kittens and brainless girls, all because we’ve lost respect for ourselves. Instead of being strong, independent women that we were promised to be, we’ve jumped back into looking ‘cute’ as our main objective.

So girls, how about this: put down the fake tanner, the skinny jeans and the pink lip gloss- try learning something about the women who fought so hard for you, who slaved and shed blood, sweat and tears into making it so you would never know what the social injustice of sexism is. You’re never going to make a difference in things if you’re focused more on lip liner than legislation involving you entire sex.

So sorry ladies, but I’d rather makeup my mind instead of my face