The culture we live in today is growing increasingly toxic and hostile to our girls. With the influences of social media and the never-ending pressure to perform in every area of life, our daughters are fighting a battle every single day. So how can you, their parents, champion your girls to be strong, aware and confident women?
I recently spoke with Dr. Leonard Sax, a bestselling author and a leading expert in raising young girls and boys for my Parenting Great Kids Podcast. You can listen to our full conversation here:
Our conversation was incredibly insightful and eye-opening, and I want to share a few of the highlights with you.
M: What confusion do you find girls experience today regarding their sexual identity?
S: Our American culture today pushes girls to present themselves sexually, earlier than ever before. The result is that they become unhinged, they get detached from their sexual identity. Everything becomes a performance. We are seeing a whole generation of young women growing up who regard sex as something that girls provide to boys, that women provide to men.
Today's culture pushes young girls to present themselves sexually earlier than ever before.
I spoke to a gynecologist friend of mine who told me that she is seeing so many young women now who say, “I’ve never experienced an orgasm. Is something wrong with me?” After the usual check-ups, she says that in every case, the woman is totally normal. The problem is with the men – they have no idea how to interact with a woman. They’ve come to regard women as aides to masturbation, essentially. And the irony of this permissive era, in which we push girls and boys to be sexual before their time, is that they have no idea how to do it. Rushing things doesn’t make it better, it makes it worse.
M: How does the early sexualization of girls affect their sense of worth as they grow through their teen years and into their 20’s?
S: Well, this is where we get into this perfect storm. I talk about different factors. We talked about one factor, the sexualization of girlhood, and then we have this whole other factor – social media. I visit schools and I talk to middle school and younger and ask, “Who here is on Instagram or on Snapchat?” Almost all the hands go up. The girls are figuring out that if they want to get 1,000 followers on Instagram, they just post a few pictures of themselves in a bikini or a provocative pose at age 12, and you will have 2,000 followers overnight. Now what the girl doesn’t understand is that a lot of those followers are men and a particularly creepy variety of men that you really don’t want following you. But they don’t know because these girls are intensely competitive and, “if Emily has 1,000 followers on Instagram, then I have to have 2,000."