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Teach Girls to Support, Not to Compete

I had recently watched a trending Ted Talk called, “Teach girls bravery, not perfection,” by Reshma Saujani that I found both progressive and heartening. However, it made me realize that there are many other important lessons we haven’t been teaching girls.

So first off, if you haven’t seen the Ted Talk, watch it, because it’s amazing. Secondly, this talk made me think of another important lesson we need to start teaching girls—teach girls to support each other, not to compete with one another.

For my entire life, I’ve not only been taught perfection, but I’ve been taught to be the best. I think this notion stems strongly from Saujani’s point with the social teachings of perfection, as I always felt that as a girl, I needed to outshine and out-perfect everyone to get to where I wanted to be in life. However, the difference with this concept is that while striving to be perfect is a stress on the self, striving to be the best can become a stress on others.

It’s no surprise that girls can be mean to each other, hence the production of the notorious, “Mean Girls.” But the question I don’t hear very often is why? Why can girls be so mean to each other?

I believe it is because we teach girls to be competitive, rather than supportive.

We teach girls to be the very best, to show men they’re just as good, to not be like “most girls.” Phrases like, “be like one of the boys,” or “play with the big boys,” promote women to not be like other women and try to outshine them.

But what would happen if girls were taught to be like most girls? What if girls were taught to support each other, to help each other reach their goals, to be proud of each other, to respect each other?

The patriarchy teaches women to tear each other down, rather than to lift each other up; to keep them under the social hierarchy. If society taught women to support each other, I believe we would thrive like no other.

So women out there, here is one thing you can do to help all of womankind. Be nice to each other. Support one another. And most of all, start teaching young girls the same. Teach girls to support each other, not to compete with one another.

The change starts with you.


Denison University '18 
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