I Offer A Different Perspective

There’s a post going around that seems popular, a letter from a mother to a daughter telling the little girl that the world hates her because of her sex, and to just, and I quote – “fuck ‘em”.

I’d like to offer a different perspective.

I don’t know the person who wrote this post, neither as a blogger nor as a mom. I’m sure she’s very good at both. I’m not going to judge her words, but I’d like to offer my own.

I’m not going to teach my daughter that the world hates her. I’m going to teach her that she will face challenges and obstacles and unfairness and she will encounter people with different, often stubborn, opinions and she will need to rise above them. She will need to rise. The world doesn’t hate its girls, the world is still trying to figure out what to do with the power that lies inside of its daughters. A different perspective.

The post talks about the world hating its girls, from the moment they are born. I remember the very moment my daughter was born, after hours and hours and hours of an agonizing labor and pushing, the child was laid on my chest. My first touch to my newborn was on her back, and she felt like warm, wet, velvet. She was covered in my blood and I stared into her face and I loved her. Fiercely and instantly. Her father loved her, and wiped away tears as he leaned down to kiss his newborn daughter as she took in her first breaths. Her father cut the cord, separating her body from mine, and never left her side as the nurses measured and weighed and bathed her. He wept the entire time, because the man knew no other way to express the amount of love he felt for this tiny creature. My husband, this brand new girl’s father, called our extended family and friends, who rejoiced over the announcement of her healthy birth. Her father and little brother and grandfather and uncles and male cousins all love and cherish her.  A different perspective.

Yes, she cried when she took her first breaths. Not because the world is a cold, uncaring, and frustrating place that hates her. She cried because she was announcing she was here, and the world would never be the same. She cried out because newborn babies do not yet know how to holler “Hey! I am full of awesome!”.  A different perspective. 

I’m not going to teach my daughter that “there is nothing worse than being a girl”. I am going to teach my daughter to Redefine Girly. There are people in the world who do not value girls, especially as much as they value boys. But how much power and attention do those folks really deserve? There are also thousands and thousands of people in the world who do value and cherish girls, and I choose to focus on them. I will teach my daughter not to give her energy or attention to people who don’t deserve it. I believe the author of the post was trying to say the same thing, but where you put your energy in life is important. I will teach my daughter to see and give importance to the people who, by the thousands and millions, do value girls. A different perspective. 

I also am a former-girl, and I have never felt hated. I have felt challenged. I have been teased for throwing like a girl, and I have picked up the ball and thrown harder and straighter. I have been told I couldn’t do something or other because I was a girl, and I have set about and done it.  I have faced barriers, and I have climbed right over the top of them. I have face ignorance, and I have relied on my beliefs and education to maneuver around it. I have faced sexism, and I have proven myself time and again. I haven’t felt the need to “f*ck ‘em”. I have felt the need to exceed people’s expectations of me, all the while acting with respect, compassion, and class. This is what I will teach my daughter so that when she does face the unjust way the world can sometimes treat its girls, she will have  treasure trove of stories and skills to draw from. I’m not going to raise my daughter as a victim of the world. I’m going to raise her as a force to be reckoned with. A different perspective.

Our daughters cannot cancel out nor hide from the world. They cannot go through life with a “eff you” attitude and be angry at the world. It is wrong to assume all men and boys hate and disrespect women and girls. It is hard to teach people and change perspective when they, or you, have been backed into a corner. I will teach my daughter to meet people in the middle. She’ll have a smart mind and a firm handshake and a chin held high. She’ll practice the art of sisterhood. She’ll have class, and be grounded in the idea of who she is. I will teach my daughter that instead of approaching people with a “f*ck ‘em” attitude, I will ask her to learn from them and guide her actions from the knowledge gained from the very people who would keep her down. The rest of the world cannot be damned, because my daughter is just one in a cast of millions. All people have worth. I will teach her people can sometimes be very wrong, and I will teach her to rise. A different perspective.

The world can be a very difficult place to be a girl. The world can be a difficult place to be anybody. The world can also be an amazing, bright, loving, vibrant place to be alive. The world doesn’t hate my daughter. That’s what my daughter and I will focus on. I do agree with the other mother on several points, the most important of which, our daughters absolutely can fly. In fact, they can soar. We just need to teach them how.

My six year old daughter conquering the challenge of the day: flight.

Comments

  1. A beautiful post. Thank you for this!

  2. I’m with you. Pigtail Pal Mama. I wrote something like that for my daughter the other day: http://corndogmama.blogspot.com/2012/04/letter-to-my-daughter.html

    Thanks for being so full of awesome, and teaching your daughter that she’s full of the same.

    <3

    • Kate –
      Your post is absolutely beautiful. I will be sharing it with the Pigtail Pals community over the weekend. Thank you for adding more beauty and light into the world. Your daughter will cherish that letter for many, many years. Simply beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with me.

      (And yes, never give love notes right before gym class! LOL!)

  3. Cheri Fleming says:

    Thank you! You reminded me of how I loved being a girl, and I love your perspective.

    • annabellep says:

      I also loved being a girl, and I love being a woman, with all its trials and tribulations, and yes, successes and victories!

  4. I agree. I also never taught my daughter that “all men” are this or that. Recently there was a heated comment thread on my Facebook page, and it was pretty negative about men, and sure, I have my moments too, especially these days, but I looked at that thread and really felt sad. Just then, my 20-year-old daughter emailed me and said, “You have some pretty extreme comments on Facebook right now. Do those friends have husbands/boyfriends/brothers/male friends in their lives who they love?” It really took me aback. Yes, there are a lot of men out there right now who are anti-woman, but there are a lot of really great guys too, and I’m really glad my own daughter understands this and has good sensibilities about it.

  5. Julie Chyna says:

    “I will teach my daughter not to give her energy or attention to people who don’t deserve it.” Exactly. In other words, fuck ‘em.

    It’s all about perspective: If you go into something with the attitude that the world is going to keep you down, it will. If you go into something with the attitude that there will be challenges but it is possible to overcome them, then you will.

    • @Julie, that’s how I took it, too. Thanks for wording it better for me, though. :)

    • Darius W. says:

      @Julie

      Err, those two statements aren’t quite the same, at least when taking account the context of both essays. The essay written by the “fuck ‘em” blogger had more of an absolutist attitude when it comes to handling males: they [boys and men] will hate you for reasons beyond our understanding, so disregard them entirely.

      In contrast, Melissa is saying to disregard the boys and men who devalue their worth as girls, but embrace the ones who appreciate them as people. In other words, don’t turn callous to the opposite sex, simply because misogyny exists. That’s a much better message to tell young girls and even young women.

  6. Oh how I am so glad to have been on FB as this was posted…bravo, bravo, bravo…truly nothing to add! xo

  7. I don’t have girls, but I grew up with three sisters. I read that piece that you referenced and I felt…uncomfortable with it as well. I don’t think the world hates girls and I don’t think most girls feel hated. I think they feel underestimated and undervalued at times, but not hated. And I think that is a lot to put on the shoulders of any kid, male or female. I like your perspective much better. We absolutely CAN revel in and celebrate our womanhood without falling into the gender stereotypes that have plagued us for eons. Well stated!

  8. Well said! I love this post and your perspective.

  9. Love this. I’ve recently started to de-friend women on Facebook who constantly post anti-men cartoons and sayings; women who take pride in an ‘f them’ attitude towards life. How unbecoming! How are we, as a sisterhood, suppose to show the beauty that lies within us when we cloth ourselves in ugly and anger? Life is too wonderful to spend energy on that. I choose to LIVE my life as a woman, going out and DOING, and I never give a second thought to those who think I can’t.

  10. While I agree with you, I also see a lot of overlap in your post and hers. She wants her daughter to show everyone how awesome being a girl can be: “You show them by being more than your looks, even if that’s all people comment on. You show them by your independence. You show them by being more than they expect to see. You show them by not taking their shit.” I think this Mom is acknowledging a sad truth in our society about the devaluing of women, and “fuck em” is her way of encouraging her daughter to resist that message, to rise above. It may not be graceful, but it is powerful. “They” stands in more for misogynistic culture, not individuals (and not men). I don’t see that much difference in opinion between you and her.

    • I agree. I feel like the author was offended by the word, “fuck”. She mentions having “class” twice. I think a mother using the word offended her sensibilities.
      And I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people being uncomfortable with talking about misogyny, ignoring it will not make it go away.

      • Mamayi –
        Please don’t assume to know what I am, or am not, offended by. You don’t know me at all, and you certainly don’t know where my “sensibilities” lay. The word “fuck”, or a mother using the word “fuck” is not what offends me.

        Having class is the difference between telling a rude and assuming blog reader to go fuck themselves, or having a calm and rational discussion in which I further try to explain myself. So let me further try to explain myself…

        I’m not uncomfortable talking about mysogyny and I do not ignore the problems my children will some day face. I just don’t find the other woman’s post very empowering, for her or her daughter. I teach my children about the same issues she discussed, I just do it from a different point of view. I refuse to teach the small people I am responsible for the that world hates them, and raise them with a victim’s outlook. I’m raising my children to be intelligent and caring people who take action when something needs to get done so that when they encounter injustice, like mysogyny, they stand up and march right past it, and help others around them.

        The difference, of course, is that instead of putting the focus on other people and making sure we “fuck ‘em”, my family will simply do what needs to be done because it is the right thing to do. It is a different perspective, and since this is my blog, you’ll get that a lot here. Go figure.

    • Lauren –
      There is a lot of overlap in our posts, because we’re drinking out of the same glass. To me, her post read as seeing the glass half empty. I see the glass as half full, and that is how I raise my kids. So I offered a different perspective.

      The part of her post that you quoted was, as I mentioned in mine, one of the parts I fully agreed with. But the “fuck ‘em” attitude gives the power away to the other people. I choose to keep the power within my daughter, and therein lies the difference. And the difference is an important one.

  11. I think that the main difference in the posts is this line:

    “I’m not going to raise my daughter as a victim of the world. I’m going to raise her as a force to be reckoned with.”

    I don’t think the whole world hates girls, or even that most men do. I think that most people don’t understand or talk about the subtle and large sexism out there, don’t realize how they are perpetuating ideas they might not actually believe in. The more we can meet people in the middle, even people with different opinions, the more we can create positive change. Thank you for being here and offering a different, more positive perspective.

  12. With all due respect I think you missed the point completely

  13. “I’m not going to teach my daughter that the world hates her.”

    This is fact and not telling your daughter this sets her up for failure.

    • I disagree, on both counts.

    • If this were true then there would never be a chance for success. Considering I know women that have experienced tremendous success, I would say that proves your statement false.

    • Frankly, I think that teaching my daughter that the world hates her would be tantamount to child abuse. While there may be, as Melissa says, two different perspectives at play here, there is a world of difference between teaching a girl about the issues and challenges that women face, and teaching her that the world hates her.

      The world doesn’t hate my daughter. The world NEEDS my daughter.

  14. You can also disagree that the sky is blue or that water is wet. What you believe does not affect reality, period. We live in a patriarchy. Patriarchy necessitates the systematic hatred of females. We cannot combat that until we acknowledge it and your denial is part of the problem. YOU are contributing to a negative world for your daughter.

    • ANM –
      Am I? Am I denying it? I have several HUNDRED other blog posts here, and an entire company that has gone global several times over, that says otherwise.

      Educate yourself before you tell me what I’m doing to my daughter.

      • Well yes… You ARE denying it. You can read your own post if you don’t believe me. I didn’t make you write what you did.

    • We don’t often think about the privileges we receive; in fact we take them for granted especially if we’ve always had them. Males are no different. They assume the privileges they have are rights, and don’t stop to think that they receive those privileges at the expense of women. I don’t think that means that men hate women. They’ve just been brought up in a society that doesn’t regard women as equals.

      I’m hoping that you know that I don’t mean ALL men, or ALL female. This is just a generalized statement.

  15. “I don’t think that means that men hate women.”

    But it DOES mean that. That’s EXACTLY what it means.

    • ANM, saying that all men hate women is a fact like the sky is blue and water is wet is a bit of false comparison. Where are the empirical data or scientific studies to support that hypothesis? Without solid evidence to support that staement, it becomes theory, at best, but really an opinion or belief. It is a belief that most readers of this blog don’t share and certainly the owner of the blog doesn’t share. She’s pretty open-minded, I think, and pretty smart; a critical thinker, much more so than I am. I think if you would care to share information to back up your statements rather than just re-asserting your own opinion as evidence, that would be interesting.

      Fot the sake of discussion, let’s suppose that we do live in a world where it is a fact that all men hate women. How do you suggest women should respond to effect change? How do we raise our daughters? How does one change ubiquitous hate? With beligerance and hostility? Perhaps that would be ineffective. How about through intelligent civil discourse and education? How about by defying expectations and stereotypes?

      I suggest that if you are looking for an audience to support your campaign of hostility, you are in the wrong place.

      • I never said that all men hate women. I said that the world hates women and I stand by that statement. In the future please engage what I say and not what you imagine I say.

        PS. I have no campaign of hostility. That’s the patriarchy you’re thinking of.

  16. I just LOVE this article and it made me cry. Your daughter is so lucky to have you as a mother.

  17. excellent post. i love love love it :)

  18. Katwoman says:

    Melissa, I’m a big fan of your work but this post says some troubling things. There is a lot of discussion among feminists these days about the issue of privilege and the extent to which it colors our respective perceptions of “what is problematic,” and some parts of this jump out at me as arguing from a position of enormous privilege and denying the experiences of those who do not share said privilege.

    Since you use “the world” as your frame of reference, it’s worth noting that in “the world,” female fetuses are selectively aborted and female infants killed as newborns in vast numbers; girls are fed only what is left after male offspring are satisfied; girls are denied educations and raised to do hard labor to help support their families; girls are sold into the vast sex trafficking trade; girls’ genitals are mutilated; girls are forced into marriages with much older men; girls (and women) are sexually assaulted in staggering numbers, sometimes followed by stoning, “honor killing,” or forced marriage to their rapists; girls and women are considered the chattel of their fathers or husbands, denied the right to earn money or possess property of their own; girls and women are prohibited from driving cars, voting, and going out in public without a male relative as escort; girls and women are denied access to meaningful reproductive health care, resulting in unplanned pregnancies and a very high likelihood of dying horribly from pregnancy or childbirth complications; in places where they are allowed to hold employment, girls and women face epidemic and often legal employment discrimination in the form of hostile work environments, sexual harassment, and pay discrimination; all of these harms can also be compounded and complicated in specific situations by issues of race, disability, and poverty – and the list goes on and on and on.

    Treating girls and women as less than fully human, as chattel, as objects to be mutilated, raped, and killed with impunity – this is hatred. To deny it as this post does – and make no mistake, stating that you refuse to talk or teach your child about it is denial – is a profoundly anti-woman act completely at odds with the mission of Pigtail Pals. And when you ask the question, “How much power and attention do those folks [who do not value girls] really deserve?” it reads as if you are really asking, “How much attention should I really give to acknowledging the girls and women who are victimized by those folks?” I know this is not what you intended to convey – but that it how it comes across to some of us.

    Given the terrible harms girls and women worldwide suffer EVERY DAY because of their sex, this paragraph in particular reads as at best painfully privileged and naive, at worst unbelievably callous and insulting:

    <>

    I am glad that your daughter, as an intelligent, able-bodied, cisgender child of indeterminate race living in one of the world’s wealthiest countries, with access to adequate food, shelter, and educational resources, is unlikely to face sex-related “challenges” that can’t be overcome just by “throwing the ball harder.” But when you say you are “not going to teach [your] daughter that “there is nothing worse than being a girl,”” you deny some hard truths about the rest of the world and girls’ experience in it – truths that a child your daughter’s age need not confront just yet, but truths you will need to discuss with her some day if she is to be a compassionate citizen of the world.

    Can the Arab girl, forbidden by law to leave the house without a male escort on pain of being stoned to death, just “set about and do it”? Can the Thai girl, chained to a metal cot in a Bangkok brothel so that sex tourists can rape her a dozen times a day, “climb right over the top of [that barrier]“? Can the Morrocan girl, forced to marry her rapist, “rely on her beliefs and education to maneuver around” the ignorance that underlies the laws permitting such a thing? Do you believe that the African-American tween gang-raped by the neighborhood boys and then victim-blamed by the New York Times will get justice if she just “proves herself”? And why is the burden on girls and women to “exceed people’s expectations” instead of on society to evaluate the sexes equally?

    Even in our privileged American world, your daughter may end up facing situations in which your optimism will not suffice. If one of her fifth-grade classmates corners her in the back of the schoolbus and pinches her nipples black and blue, will you explain to her that he doesn’t hate her, he was just “undervaluing” her and she needs to “rise above it,” maybe with a firm handshake? If a college date drugs her drink and rapes her, will you comfort her by saying that he doesn’t deserve her “energy or attention,” and to draw strength from her “treasure trove of stories” when the police slut-shame her and the prosecutor refuses to press charges because prior to the rape she was wearing a short skirt and grinding on the rapist on the dance floor? When she’s passed over for promotion again in favor of the guy who started after her and whose mistakes she’s always correcting, will you tell her that she just needs to “rise” and that her intensely sexist boss doesn’t HATE her, he is just “still trying to figure out what to do with the power that lies inside” her? Because in reality, misogynists actually have a very clear agenda for the power that lies inside women: they want to extinguish it. Simple. That is hatred.

    I know from reading many of your other posts that your heart is in the right place and that you would never consciously deny the harms that worldwide misogyny does to other girls and women. I have really appreciated reading your work against the sexualization of childhood and sexism in marketing and children’s play, especially since I have two small daughters and these issues resonate deeply in my own life right now. But to someone reading your post with that larger picture in mind, it comes across as cheerfully minimizing the real hatred and harms that actual girls and women suffer, because that ugliness doesn’t jibe with your desire to focus on the positive – a desire that is very much itself a product of privilege. I invite you to explore more feminist writings on privilege and intersectionality in light of this post – I think you will find it a worthwhile additional consideration.

    • Katwoman says:

      Hm, the comment removed the paragraph I was trying to quote. It was this one:

      “I also am a former-girl, and I have never felt hated. I have felt challenged. I have been teased for throwing like a girl, and I have picked up the ball and thrown harder and straighter. I have been told I couldn’t do something or other because I was a girl, and I have set about and done it. I have faced barriers, and I have climbed right over the top of them. I have face ignorance, and I have relied on my beliefs and education to maneuver around it. I have faced sexism, and I have proven myself time and again. I haven’t felt the need to “f*ck ‘em”. I have felt the need to exceed people’s expectations of me, all the while acting with respect, compassion, and class.”

    • Katwoman –
      I refuse to teach my daughter that all the world hates her. Because that simply is not true. You are assuming I will never teach about the list of things you wrote in your comment. I suppose you also assume I am naive. My privileged life has allowed me to travel the globe, and see, meet, talk, and walk with women who live in very dark corners of our world. I will teach my daughter about the things you mention, she will know about those things at a time when she is old enough and ready to process them. Yes, I have a cheerful approach to life. That doesn’t mean I do not see or acknowledge the shadows.

      Today she is six years old, and does not need to know about those things. The weight of the evils of the world should not be placed on my child’s head, left for her to balance. The way I raise her clearly cannot apply to all girls as the world is today. That does not mean how I’m doing it is wrong. You can belittle what I said all you want, you can assume I am uneducated Pollyanna or have not read feminist writings. The truth is quite to the contrary.

      I offered a different perspective on raising girls as empowered and not starting them off as victims. This is how I choose to raise my daughter. Perhaps my way, she might just be the girl who has the self confidence and limitless strength to tip this world upside down.

      I see the problems, Katwoman. I donate to organizations run by friends of mine that help the girls of the world who face bigger problems in life than getting a good parking spot at Target. I give my time and open my home to girls who need guidance and counsel. I understand intersectionality, even through my privilege. I just approach the world differently than you.

      • annabellep says:

        Brava! Keep holding your ground! This is an important conversation to have, and I love how open and respectful you’re being about it.

      • Obviously, a six-year-old doesn’t need to know all about the anti-girl, anti-woman evil that exists in the world – that’s not my point, and you and I agree that six-year-old girls ought to live in a world defined by light and joy and discovery and imagination and rainbows. You and I also agree that such evil exists outside the shelter we create and maintain for our daughters, and we apparently agree that girls should know it exists when they reach an appropriate age.

        Our differences seem to lie in two areas: (1) The original post by Mur Lafferty calls this worldwide anti-woman evil and systemic oppression of women “hatred;” you do not, preferring less direct terms like “the shadows.” (2) Your arguments center around anti-feminist tropes, specifically (a) the straw woman that acknowledging systemic oppression of women = teaching that every single individual man in the world hates every single individual woman, an obviously false equation which no one is proposing or defending; and (b) the idea that teaching girls about systemic oppression of women = “starting them off as victims,” as if it is in any way mutually exclusive with celebrating girls’ abilities and otherwise “empowering” them.

        I really don’t know how to engage on the idea that it is inappropriate to use the term “hatred” to describe the worldwide systemic abuse and oppression of women based on their sex. As I said, I agree that this isn’t a discussion to have with a six-year-old – but an older child/teenager will certainly have had sufficient life experience to understand what it means when hatred is codified into social systems. You are certainly entitled to call it what you will (“You-Know-What,” perhaps, like in the Potterverse). That won’t change how our daughters, or the world’s daughters, experience it.

        With respect to the straw woman who equates misogynistic *systems* with “all men and boys hate and disrespect women and girls,” you are distorting the fundamental premise of feminism (i.e., that the world is patriarchal and includes numerous systems which perpetuate the oppression, abuse, and deaths of girls and women) into non-credible unrecognizability by over-personalizing it in a way that will cause most women to reject it (“My daddy LOVED me – that angry feminist is WRONG!”). It is roughly equivalent to saying that the US has record levels of consumer debt because “all men and women overspend and don’t manage their money,” or that the flu spreads because “all women and men don’t wash their hands or cover their sneezes.” I’ll say it here to be clear: All men and boys do not personally hate all women and girls. Acknowledging that in no way changes the reality that all men and boys are privileged by the systematic oppression of women built into our laws, our family structures, our media, our consumer society, our educational system, and our emotional training. The particular level of oppression may vary depending on where you look in the world, but it is everywhere nonetheless.

        On the question of whether being aware of bias/prejudice/oppression/hatred starts girls off “as victims,” I contend that you are reversing the order of things. *Learning about* misogyny doesn’t turn girls into victims – EXPERIENCING MISOGYNY turns girls into victims, and the unprepared girls will be hurt the most. Obviously – OBVIOUSLY – girls should be taught that they are smart and strong and capable, etc. etc. But they should also be made aware, in age-appropriate ways, of the specific risks that they face by virtue of their gender. Being able to recognize misogyny is a vitally important skill – one that helps prevent girls from internalizing the blame for sexist harms by putting the responsibility on the perpetrator of the sexist act. (See, e.g., the list of feminist “Rape Prevention Tips” that starts off, “Don’t rape people.”)

        Too often, in my experience, “empowered” girls and women believe that they should be able to overcome insurmountable obstacles, move immovable objects, change their sexist supervisors’ or abusive partners’ hearts and minds – and when they fail, they hate and blame *themselves* for the damage they have suffered. I am arguing for balance – that a girl should be given the tools of self-confidence and competence as well as the awareness that in any given situation, such tools may not be enough because sexism (and racism and ableism and classism and homophobia and…) exist, life is not always fair, and it is NOT HER FAULT, in spite of the vicious victim-blaming that the patriarchy will likely heap upon her.

        This awareness that there are, in fact, forces beyond our control is also a key component in developing empathy and compassion for people whose lives are even more deeply affected by systems of oppression. There is a vast difference between a girl who appreciates that she’s been given great advantages by her loving parents, gifts that allow her to succeed in living a happy, productive life, and a girl who believes that if less fortunate people wouldn’t have such pathetic lives if they would just work harder at it, because look what SHE did “without a handout,” ignoring the history of oppression that denies all but the most exceptional and lucky people any real opportunity to escape their various circumstances.

        Hurricanes happen. Floods happen. Layoffs happen. Car accidents happen. Fires happen. Sexism happens. Earthquakes happen. Swine flu happens. Recessions happen. Acknowledging the existence of forces beyond our individual control does not diminish our personal power. Denying them and failing to prepare for them, however, severely compromises our ability to cope if/when terrible things happen to us.

        Along with the implied denial, your dismissal of the anger in Mur Lafferty’s piece and your statement that your daughter “cannot” go through life being “angry at the world” smacks of the oppressive directive that girls and women should stop being SO NEGATIVE and SO ANGRY and SHUT UP ALREADY WITH YOUR NAGGING AND COMPLAINING, it’s not LADYLIKE. This trope is regularly deployed to discredit and silence women (see, e.g., nearly everything ever written about Hillary Clinton by her detractors) and people of color (ANGRY BLACK PEOPLE!) in our culture, so it is surprising to see it turned into an entire essay by someone devoted to promoting the empowerment of girls. It is especially surprising to see discouraging your daughter from feeling anger about injustice described as a tool for empowering her.

        A note on your implication that I am “belittling” you or assuming you are “uneducated Pollyanna” – please don’t project your defensiveness into my good-faith efforts to engage in a debate on this issue. As I said, I’ve been a long-time reader of your blog and I know very well that you come from a place of feminist consciousness. Your post invites debate by virtue of being written in response to Mur Lafferty’s essay expressing the pain, fear, anger, and bewilderment she feels when she considers the ways in which the world fails its daughters – a response that, as the comments illustrate, can be read as a straight-up denial of many of the objectively valid fears she expresses.

        Last, I don’t presume to judge how you are raising your daughter – in fact, I suspect that on a daily basis, the ways you and I mother our daughters are very much the same. But the language of this essay, as I’ve tried to explain, raises serious issues for me. From the question of privilege to the implied denial of misogyny to the false tropes of “every single man,” “feminism makes women into victims,” and “angry angry angry,” I found myself surprised and disappointed at the underlying messages, which I believe to be at odds with the larger idea you want to get across.

        Bottom line: An essay which you intended to promote a focus on the good, the supportive, and the positive in girlhood has instead caused many women like me (who, as frequent readers of your blog, assume the best intentions of you) to see denial and anti-woman messages and to recoil in alarm. As someone who communicates for a living, you might consider whether these reactions present you with an opportunity to consider the language you employ and clarify the message you want to convey.

        • “Your arguments center around anti-feminist tropes, specifically (a) the straw woman that acknowledging systemic oppression of women = teaching that every single individual man in the world hates every single individual woman, an obviously false equation which no one is proposing or defending…”

          But see, the Murverse article says: “There is nothing worse than being a girl. I’m not saying this as a former girl- I quite liked being a girl. I’m saying this from the POV of the entire rest of the world.” The ENTIRE REST OF THE WORLD. Apparently that includes me and my husband and my daughter and the rest of my family, etc. You, too.

          So I think if Melissa makes the point that her daughter came into the world beloved by many people, that is a reasonable response to the Murverse article’s argument. That writer made the point that her daughter is hated by every other human being on the planet. She was the one who set up the straw man — Melissa was the one knocking it down.

  19. MezzoPiana says:

    OMG, Katwoman. *STANDING OVATION*

  20. Thank you, thank you, thank you Katwoman.

    Anyone who can read the list of FACTS left by Katwoman about what MALES do to FEMALES around the world and make the statement that men in general do not hate women in general needs a dictionary. You obviously do not know what all of the words mean. What patriarchy does to females is hate, full stop. No thickness of rosy glasses removes that. No issue of age appropriateness removes that. NOTHING removes that.

    • I learned early in my life not to generalize about ANY group of people. No one is denying any of the facts that Katwoman posted about what happens to women all over the world. In fact, I’m fairly sure Melissa has seen some of this with her own eyes in other countries. This particular post is about the outlook on life that SHE chooses to instill in her own child. You are welcome to disagree, and even have civil conversations about the points that you disagree on. The problem I have here is that you seem set on belittling anyone with a different perspective. How does that differ from what happens to women EVERY DAY?? “Anyone who can read the list of FACTS left by Katwoman about what MALES do to FEMALES around the world and make the statement that men in general do not hate women in general needs a dictionary.” I disagree, and yet I own a dictionary and am fully aware of most words in it. My father didn’t hate women, nor my brothers. My daughter adores her Daddy and her uncles. I should teach her that they hate her? That is the problem with generalizing. Innocent people get caught in the crosshairs. Instead I choose to teach my daughter that these things exist and help her find ways to help. So many young women today think “feminist” is a dirty word, because they think that being a feminist means hating men. There is no one way to be a feminist, just as there is no one way to be female. Rather than sitting around throwing rhetoric at each other and accusing people of not being the right kind of feminist, I choose to teach my daughter to find actions to take.

      • What part of “I never said all men” is not making it through here? Seriously? It’s plain English, I promise.

    • annabellep says:

      Um, excuse me, but you just said that privilege alleviates it. And considering you’re typing your comments on an internet-connected computer means you have it, too. I personally find it insulting how this mindset you keep pushing here can in any way presume to speak for women in the world, as if you or Katwomen have anything at all in common with a child bride in India, or the mother of 10 in Czechoslovakia, or a woman facing forced abortion in China. The abuses of which you speak are largely not suffered by you because of your privilege, and thank goodness for it. Some women get to escape. It’s not fair, but it’s a darn sight better than the universal oppression of all women.

      There’s value in carrying that progress forward, in modeling what one does when one attains privilege, while pulling up the next generation, the next country, the next oppressed class of women. Otherwise we’re all sitting on our duffs using meaningless language like “intersectionality.” Your criticism of Melissa’s point of view does nothing for the women of the world, and does everything to attempt to silence a woman’s point of view on being a woman and raising a girl child. How in the world is that helpful?

      Sorry to get political in your thread, Melissa, but pushback against this arrogance is necessary, IMHO.

      • I really appreciate your comments. Thank you.

      • I never said intersectionality. I never said “that privilege alleviates it,” whatever that means. Again, I can’t engage with people who respond to what they IMAGINE I said and not what I ACTUALLY said.

        And I absolutely am not trying to silence anyone. I don’t have that power.

        This is just silly. If you don’t like what I say, then fine. But you can’t blame me for things I didn’t say or do.

        • annabellep says:

          Katwomen used that term. You two seem to be pushing the same message/agenda. You said that nothing changes patriarchy. Yet privilege does. Women in privileged positions don’t have to worry about the “patriarchy” in the same way an Afghan woman, for example, has to worry about it. It’s the difference between $0.23 less an hour and an acid attack in the face.

          You’re right about one thing though; it is silly. That’s exactly how I would characterize your abuse attempts to police Melissa’s thoughts. Have you even taken 20 minutes to question your own point of view recently? It’s a necessary process to critical thinking, you know.

        • Abuse? Attempts to silence? Reality has left the building, folks.

        • annabellep says:

          Nice. You can’t address a single argument, ANM, so you resort to snarkiness. Easy win for me. *shrug*

        • You didn’t “win.” anything. You completely failed to address what I said and instead addressed things I didn’t say. We never even had a debate because you can’t stick to facts. If you want to try again and only try to engage things I actually say this time, then feel free.

        • Also, if you think that making 23 cents less is the only patriarchal bad thing that can happen to a woman in a privileged position, I suggest you turn on the news. Rich women, poor women, all colors of women… The patriarchy hurts them ALL.

      • I can see both sides of this. sorry to go OT for a sec- but I was raised in Czech Republic (hasn’t been Czechoslovakia since 1992) and i dont know if there’s a woman in the country with 10 kids! We have the opposite problem- very low birth rates and the government has been trying to get people to have more kids for years. It’s rare to see a family with more than 2 kiddos. And it’s not a 3rd world country.. just fyi : )

  21. annabellep says:

    I loved this letter. To me, it represents a shift to a prowoman, instead of feminist, perspective. It fits with the new women’s activism I’ve been seeing since conservative women started making serious inroads into politics and giving Democrats competition for women’s attentions. As someone who has never shied away from the term “feminist,” I find this new strain delightfully positive in its focus. It’s a necessary transition, and I for one am ready to give up the victim mantle and get some real movement to women’s progress. Bless you and thank you. And good luck to you and your daughter.

  22. Bravo! (Brava?!)

    I do not deny that sexism, misogynists, hate and cruelty exist in this world. They do. We need to constantly and continually fight such evil.

    But I love your attitude of treating others the way we want to be treated and living life to the fullest of our potential. I love being a girl, and so does my daughter.

    More hate isn’t going to solve anything.

  23. Melissa-

    I loved this post! I didn’t even know about the other post until I read the link you provided. There is always a different perspective :) I’m glad you always stay positive and focused on helping our girls.

    P.S. At least no one revoked your citizenship ;)

  24. Here’s the thing with absolutes… they are never, ever true. And I totally get the irony of that statement.

    I’m married to a man. He loves me. I am a woman. Therefore, all men do not hate women. I could go on this way the rest of the night.

  25. annabellep says:

    Melissa,

    Wanted to let to let you know that I shared both letters tonight with my all-female* college level writing class and to a person they all preferred your letter to the other one. The consensus was that they found the it distasteful to tell their daughters that the culture hated them, and preferred your “empowering” approach. That’s the word they used, “empowering.” They felt that the other letter would lead to a victim mindset, which is one they reject. Thought you would like to know.

    *This class just worked out to be all-female through happenstance, ftr. I don’t teach at a women’s college or anything.

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