Interview with Anea Bogue, Author of 9 Ways We're Screwing Up Our Girls....And How We Can Stop
Last week I posted the first half of my interview with Anea Bogue, the author of a fabulous book, 9 Ways We're Screwing Up Our Girls and How We Can Stop. This week I'm so pleased to bring you the remainder of our conversation. Check out the book when you've finished - it's an easy read, and you will find yourself in the pages, as well as heaps of information to use in your mothering of both sons and daughters.
WIW: Lately the news has been full of college sexual assault, the kidnapping of the girls in Nigeria, and the problem of sexual violence in the military. We've also been reeling from the killing spree of Elliot Rodgers at UC-Santa Barbara. Women and girls seem so often to be the victims of male aggression. How do we hold on to our sense of ourselves as empowered "captains of our own ship", as you say, in the face of this constant barrage? And how do we convince our daughters that this is possible?
AB: First, these acts send very strong messages about the collective lack of value and respect we have for women world-wide. This is made even worse when someone like George Will diminishes the horrific reality of the staggering incidence of sexual assault against women or when violence against women is viewed as commonplace and girls learn that this is the norm to the point that they start self-objectifying. What we must guard against is allowing our girls to feel that they are helpless to change this norm. We must work diligently to ensure that they know their voice and their actions count in changing these realities of patriarchy. This is why it is critical to inspire, teach, affirm their sense of personal agency.
I work very hard, with my own daughters and with every girl I have the privilege of working with to help them to re-discover their fierceness and give them permission to use it. We do not serve our daughters well when we train them to follow the ‘girls are sugar and spice and everything nice’ adage. They need to know both their nurturing side AND their warrior side, otherwise the feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and dis-empowerment take over and thrive. They need to know how extraordinarily valuable, powerful and beautiful (inside and out) they are and be given permission to protect themselves and expect to be treated with respect. They must know that it is not only acceptable, it is a courageous act of self-love to walk away from any relationship or interaction in which there are signs they are not being treated with value, equality and respect.
Finally (and sorry this one is so long)…we must encourage mothers to remember that the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world. We MUST raise our SONS to value, respect and honor girls and women. We must expect this of them and correct behaviors that show signs of anything less. We must be vocal about media and school curricula and anything else they are learning that suggests women are in some way inferior, less than human, lacking personal agency, incapable of leading, etc. We simply must.
WIW: Many of us are not raising daughters in a vacuum - we have sons to raise as well, and want all our children to realize their fullest selves possible. How do we avoid screwing up our girls without negatively impacting our sons?
AB: Raising empowered girls does not take power away from boys – this is a total falsehood that has held us back for a long time. We are a TEAM and if half our team is functioning beneath their highest potential, we are all functioning at a deficit. We must work together so we are all better. Teaching a girl that she is strong, smart and capable of just about anything boys can do does not change the mission we should have as parents to teach boys that they are strong, smart, capable and capable of doing just about anything girls can do. I think the message to our daughters and our sons must be that we are all better when we are all able to be our best. Investing in yourself means investing in others and investing in others means investing in yourself. Period. (Not sure how many more ways I can say it. J )
WIW: In the book's first chapter, you suggests moms "commit to 60 minutes of 'Me Time' every day." I know you're right, but I can imagine the mothers I know just howling at that tip. I'm sure they will swear that it simply isn't possible. Do you have a persuasive response?
AB: Ha! If there is any one thing I recommend doing but have difficulty following through with, it’s this one. I know how hard it is to be a mom, a professional, a wife, a friend, and more…and I know how essential it is to make time for ME. I usually use the oxygen mask analogy when I speak to moms (AND in my own head when I’m doing way to much for others and not enough for me). If we don’t put on our own oxygen mask first, it quickly becomes very difficult for us to help those we care about and frankly, to do anything else well – at least without starting to feel resentful, depleted, angry, frustrated, sad, depressed, etc. I encourage women to commit to half that to start with (30 minutes), for the first 30 days. It helps to schedule it at a specific time each day otherwise it will get lost in the shuffle behind everything else you think you have to do first. What it does for our psyches to make ourselves a loving priority is beyond explanation. It’s also really powerful modeling for our children, so for those of us who need to feel like we’re always multi-tasking, there you go!
Thirty minutes in 30 days? Reader, can you do it? Do you already? Will we be better mothers and happier women if we carve out half an hour for ourselves? And what message do we send to our children if we follow through on this kind of self-care? I'm always interested in hearing what you think, so let me know, in the comments below or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks, Anea Bogue - best of luck with the book, and thank you for writing it.
'Til next time,
Your (Wo)Man in Washington