My Message to Teenage Girls
The other day, I came across a blog post “Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls”. It depressed me! And I don’t even have a teenage daughter! But I am privileged to have a number of women friends who are truly remarkable. They are intelligent, capable and successful in what they do. They are the role models I would happily present to my non-existent teenage daughters and do present to my sons. For these women are roll models for anyone.
Because, you see, that’s what irritated me about the blog post in question. The number one “thing” that was apparently the most critical information for the teenage girl is not to wear shirts that show off your boobs! All of the rest of the tips were also about appearance, not being subservient to boys and attitude. There was nary a word about intelligence, study, achievement. Made me want to cry.
Now don’t get me wrong. Boobs are wonderful. They nurture babies, the are an integral part of the female figure, something I admire as a man and an artist, and they keep a massive brassiere industry profitable. But, I believe there are more important things for a teenage girl to worry about. So here are my tips to teenage girls
The Future Is Yours
The developed world is going through a fundamental change and that change is not about technology. It is about the balance of power between the sexes. Around the world, a higher proportion of women than men are graduating from university and getting advanced degrees.
Already, the middle-ranks of most businesses, government organisations, academic institutions and non-government organisations are teaming with highly competent women. It is only at the very top that men still dominate, sometimes desperately clinging to power.
But this is changing. More and more women are taking over as leaders. And this will continue. You could be one of those leaders. You just need to work at it!
You Have an Incredible Brain – Make the Most of It
Until recently, the world was more about brawn than brain. Most work involved heavy manual labour. People needed to fight off threats physically and Kings frequently invaded each others’ kingdoms. For the most part, men are better at these kinds of things. But today, power is in technology, biotechnology and other fields requiring intelligence and creativity. Moreover, the complex nature of work today requires wide collaboration and this demands skills of networking, communicating and teaching. For the most part, women seem to be better at these kind of things. Women like you are becoming.
You are at the peak of your formal education. Study hard in school, even if some of the subjects seem daft and some of your teachers are less intelligent than you. Go on to University and study a subject for which you have a passion. Learn. Meet others who share the passion and stay in touch with them. Who you know is far more important in life than you realise just now.
Men Will Try and Hold You Back. Don’t Let Them
I fear that many men will not easily give up their power in the world of business, politics and academia. Moreover, I believe it is your generation that will oversee that change in balance of power between the sexes. Many men will fight and fight bitterly to retain power. Don’t let them win.
Team up with the men and women who support you. March forward professionally and personally with the strength of who you are and of what you are capable. You must do so for yourself and in order to create a better world for your daughters and sons. It will be a world more accommodating to professional women with great aspirations professionally as well as personally (Sadly, today’s world of business, in particular, but also government, academia and non-profits is most accommodating to men with professional aspirations and subservient wives).
And rest assured that as you do this, I and many other men and women like me will cheer you on as you succeed.
You Are Sexual Being at Your Reproductive Peak. Let’s Deal with It
Humans, like all animals, are programmed to reproduce. Basically, that’s a good thing. Without a desire to reproduce, we wouldn’t last long. However, as a consequence and benefit, we have sex and sex drive. Historically, the world’s main religions have tried to repress that and tell us that sex is bad or, at the very least, sex before marriage is bad. The truth is, it is not bad. Sex can be fun, it can be fulfilling it can bring you together with someone you love in the most beautiful way possible.
But sex also can have consequences, including unintended children who rely on you and some rather nasty diseases. To make matters worse, it is you as a woman who must bear the brunt of these consequences. That also means that you have to take more responsibility for your actions even if sex involves two people.
Of course, this does not mean that sex is always good or that you should be promiscuous. Men your age, in particular, often have a raging sex drive coupled with minimal sexual knowledge. As a result, you may feel pressure to have sex with someone with whom you do not wish to have sex. If that’s the case, don’t do it. The world won’t end. You have decades of opportunities to have great sex with great men.
If your parents or school have failed to discuss sex with you, then find a good book about it. There are a lot out there! As with most things, knowledge is power.
Of course, if you feel more attracted to girls than boys, that’s cool. Indeed, if I was born a woman I’d surely feel the same. I can’t imagine what most women see in us men! More importantly, attitudes towards homosexuality are really changing in most countries. There is a good chance that you will be able to live openly and proudly with your life-partner.
Treat Others as You Would Have Them Treat You
Within the complex social circles of your life, there will be bullying, teasing, gossip and power-games. Do not be the perpetrator of these actions. Before doing or saying something to another person, ask how you would feel if she did the same thing to you.
On the other hand, if you are the victim of such people. Tell someone in authority now. Don’t even read the rest of the article. Tell your parents, a teacher you trust or an adult you can talk to. A favourite tactic of bullies is to threaten you if you tell someone. But think about it. There is a reason they do not want you to tell someone in authority! They are scared. Moreover, being the victim of a bully is nothing to be ashamed of. Being a bully is.
Most Importantly, Be Yourself and Be Proud of It!
Sadly, the world is already trying to pressure you to conform to all kinds of social norms and intellectual norms. You are expected to think in certain ways, solve problems in certain ways and behave in certain ways. While it is important to understand the norms of thinking and behaving, do not ever feel that just because everyone else does something in a certain way, that is the best way to do it. Do not accept as absolute truth everything that society says is absolute truth. Do not feel that the only way to accomplish a task is to follow the conventional route.
Question everything. Do your own thing. Solve problems in your own way. You will make mistakes. Lots of mistakes. But whenever you make a mistake, learn from it and remind yourself that no one has ever achieved great things by being a follower. People do achieve great things by being themselves, following their dreams, changing things and creating new norms for the next generation.
Make the Future Incredible
As I wrote in the beginning, young lady, the future is yours. Make the most of it. Make it incredible for you, your daughters and your sons. Please.
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