A much greater disservice to girls

“We do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man.” @kbaxterk2 made a comment on a recent post of mine that she wasn’t going to follow its recommendation to use fewer words. IRL, Katie is a whip smart lawyer and former (forever?) debate nerd, so I couldn’t tell if it was just meant as a witty self-depreciation or a deeper commentary about not limiting female voices. I’ve been thinking a lot about the latter lately — the ways our culture explicitly and implicitly demands women to quiet themselves. ⁣

Part of this account is, for me, a way to be less quiet. I’m trying to letter and write words that are meaningful to me. I seek to be less concerned with what is pleasing to others, and more concerned with what is true to me. It’s challenging to engage this way on a forum based on likes and follows, but I’m willing to try. ⁣

As part of this work, I’ve been seeking out writing by contemporary feminists, including and especially Chimamanda Adichie. When I saw that today’s #inktober word inspiration was “breakable,” this quote about fragile male egos and social structures I want to tear down and ways women are asked to be small, I knew what I had to letter today. ⁣

We do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller

Published by Emily P.G. Erickson

Emily P.G. Erickson is a writer with a master's degree in psychology. Her helpful, science-backed journalism and essays about mental health, mindfulness, and motherhood have appeared in The New York Times, WIRED, Romper, Elemental, and elsewhere. You can find the latest from Emily at www.emilypgerickson.com.

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