“ 'Cause I'm just a girl, little 'ol me
Don't let me out of your sight
I'm just a girl, all pretty and petite
So don't let me have any rights”
-- “Just a Girl,” written by Gwen Stefani and Tom Dumont, from the No Doubt album “Tragic Kingdom” (1995)
“Solo es niña.”
The words rolled out of my sister-in-law’s mouth in an almost sing-songy “oh, well” fashion. It’s her feeble defense of why her daughter is having problems with her school or understanding life lessons.
“She’s only a girl.”
She’s treating my niece as if she’s a doll – one that will never grow up. And without some prodding and pushing, she may never truly do so.
And it makes my blood boil.
So when some elected government official from who-knows-where decides he wants to take his girls out of the Girl Scouts because they might actually teach the girls the lessons they might need going forward – or that they’re a wing of Planned Parenthood – well, I want to scream.
This is what people want for their girls? For them to be ignorant about their bodies? To not be able to make informed decisions with confidence? To be scared of the consequences should some accident happen because no one told them about birth control?
It reminds me of a comic I saw back in the ‘90s (and yeah, it’s sad to think I just said “back in the ‘90s”). Anyway, it stuck with me because her act was all about her life, and the insanity she endured growing up.
During the act, she mentioned that her parents – rather than teach her about her body – had her bathe in her underwear. Until she was 14. Her father’s way of talking to her about sex was to call her derogatory terms anytime she mentioned or brought over a friend who just happened to be a boy. (Oh, and an aside, she said, the boy who came over the most … yeah, he turned out be gay.)
But then the magical day came that she was married. And the first question out of her parents’ mouths was about grandchildren.
These people had spent the better part of 20-something years scaring their daughter about the evils of sex and her own body … and then they had the nerve to say it was OK?
Which is why the comments last month in Illinois seemed so backwards in the year 2012. It seems like the promoting of information isn’t necessary. That just relying on a wing and a prayer will be enough for parents to raise their girls to be chaiste and sexually responsible through their teen years. Ask Sarah Palin how that worked out with Bristol.
Which brings me back around to my niece. She’s 16 now. Starting to get to that age where the exploration of relationships is a real thing. Pushing her boundaries when it comes to curfew. And, as much as I shudder to think about it, the possibility of her experimenting with sex.
We’ve tried to counsel her here and there. We can’t be there as much as we’d like to be.
But all this change is actually making her mom sit up and take notice. The tones in her voice are getting more serious every time she tells us about the latest troubles she’s having with her.
And it takes every fiber of my body not to respond to her “She’ll be fine. Solo es niña.”