I’ve lightly been following the story of Jennifer Lawrence’s post on lennyletter.com about the wage gap in Hollywood between genders. Jennifer expresses herself in a matter of fact way that would probably come off as crude, but that never scared me; after all, I am from New York.
Jennifer brings up some very important aspects of being a woman that are very real… if we speak our minds and hearts in a no bs way, (in most cases) we’re gonna get beat up for it, chastised, or made fun of. Whatever the case, someone is going to ask us to quiet our strength or even to shut up.
Being raised by a single mom, who was a survivor and not a victim, my five foot nothing mom spoke her voice a few times. When I was nine years old, my mom came home in tears from work one night. She had spoken her opinion at work and was told that her opinion made her insubordinate, and if she didn’t pipe down, she was going to be fired. This kind of stuff is just real. This made a very real impression on my heart about what I’m made of… I’m made of grit, truth, and fire; not fluff, puppies, and unicorns (I like fluff, puppies, and unicorns; it’s just not what makes my heart beat a little faster).
I remember processing this incident with my mom and thinking that I wanted to sit at the table and be involved in conversations and movements of depth. At that table, even by my fellow women we will get knocked around, but it’s worth it. I would also say that as women, we do this to one another, believing that we should be cute and likeable over strong and emerging.
Being involved in the lives of emerging women, I see the effect of our culture’s constant subliminal messages:
- Girls willing to do anything for a boy’s attention (sexually, socially, communication, visually, etc.)
- Girls devaluing their beauty because a boy (or another girl) makes a dumb comment.
- Girls experiencing depression because they are conforming to societal norms.
- Girls experiencing depression because they are not conforming to societal norms and being made fun of.
I couldn’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with high school & junior high girls about them not valuing themselves enough. Especially in the case of boys, they will do anything to “patch things up” to “talk it over” to “keep things going.” Some girls think I’m “old-fashioned” because I think that boys should pursue girls.
I am not an encourager of girls texting boys, girls asking boys out, girls seeking boys attention. And I have a reason why… because unless you value your own self, time, beauty, and creation, no boy or man ever will. When we place our value in the hands of someone else rather than our God and Creator (who calls us holy and beautiful), we will only find ourselves defeated and feeling less than.
The truth is that we have devalued our time, beauty, and energy in the name of feminism when truly it is the exact opposite of what the feminist movement was and is all about.
The feminist movement is about embracing who you are as a person in order to become and flourish…not to put on more make up, wear a push up bra, be acceptable for men, and compromise our worth.
Unless we, as women and girls, value our time, energy, and voice first, no one (especially a man) else will either.
I have made the argument that most boys in adolescence are not ready to love a girl in such a way that allows her to flourish and emerge. Most junior high and high school relationships end in a wreckage of pieces that are difficult to pick up. This happens because girls have not allowed boys to value them wholly.
As parents, we play a part in this too. We want our kids to be happy, and we buy into the lie that our kids’ happiness is equal to being desirable by others either through popularity or relationships.
In speaking of this, I know that there are some of you who will call me over opinionated and ridiculous. I just hope that when our daughters speak up that we will not ridicule or shush them. I pray that we invite them to the table, even if they have to wear football pads. Sitting at the table means putting on our big girl pants and getting beat up a little bit, and I’m ok with that. It’s worth it.
Thanks, Jennifer Lawrence, for speaking and questioning. Thank your for your self-examination and inviting us to sit at the table with you in this conversation.