Who are our girls’ role models?

March 16, 2012

A week or so ago, on the show The Project, they were discussing Pink Ghettos – places in the workforce where there are predominantly women (like Public Relations).

Firstly it addressed how it’s not good to have either sex feature predominantly in the workforce and secondly, it was looking at how it’s necessary for women to have good Maternity Leave – as it can mean the death of their careers, having to leave their job to care for the children. The irony was that the discussion was between a Joe Hockey (male politician) and Natasha Stott Despoja (former leader of the Democrats; and an awesome woman) – where HE was actually arguing that he knew what women wanted, more than the female, former leader of a party, with children sitting before him. I thought that was incredibly patronising. However, it generally seems that way; hardly the bat of an eyelid at the fact that a man is making the calls on what’s good for women.

The part that really had me gobsmacked, was that when Natasha was asked whether she had ever heard of Pink Ghettos, she said, “No, but Canberra is a pretty much a Blue Ghetto, with the amount of men that are there,” to which Joe Hockey replied, “I wish it were all blue.”

Yep. I bet you do, Joe.

Around the world, the average of women in parliament in 2007 was 18.3%* (couldn’t find anything more current – would love to know the figures today) and although the stats were a little better in Australia, it got me wondering WHY women are simply not up there at the top; in equal numbers to men – after all there’s a teeny bit more women than men worldwide.

Could it be that our girls have few aspirations to go for leadership roles (in many different areas) because it’s simply not modelled for them?

So, I thought I’d ask girls at my school, of different ages, who they look up to; who is an inspirational role model in their lives.

The first reaction was always the same – a long silence, looking up; trying to conjure up the faces of all the women out there who have impacted their lives.

One of the questions I was asked was, “Does it have to be a woman?” I gave her a cheeky ‘did-you-just-ask-me-that?’ look, as I didn’t know whether she was pulling my leg. She wasn’t. At the same time, what a telling question it was.

Even after I nudged them along with possibilities like singers, writers or personalities on TV…. a big portion of them said their mothers.

How wonderful. Or is it?
Hear me out.

I am a mother. I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mum, since I can remember. I was quite young when I kept asking my mum questions about marriage and whether she minded if I got married a little bit earlier than she did. She was 24. I was Suzie Home Maker. My best friend and I used to actually talk about the days where we’d be in our own home, married and ironing our husband’s shirts. PALEEASE!

Now, although I went to uni and ticked all the boxes – my ultimate goal was to get married and have kids. And I did.

I was blessed with two, very strong, daughters who drive me insane – you know what I mean – but whom I believe I was destined to have.
As much as I know they will ultimately respect me as a mother – is it all I want for them?

Question #24: Is motherhood the only way we can model strong women?

I asked the students if they felt there were any unfair things their mothers might go through, because they’re women and there was a strong chorus of, “YEAH!”

Through our following discussion, it seemed clear that, besides their mothers, there really wasn’t much out there to inspire girls – and if there are great women out there (which of course there are) – why aren’t we seeing them as much as the plastic, doll-like versions of our sex?

Why is there such a dim spotlight being shone on intelligent and inspirational women?

All is not lost, though. One of my older students said Gail Simone was an inspiration to her. I don’t know about you, but I said, “Who?” When I looked her up, I saw that she is great – a graphic novel writer. Amongst other suggestions, a popular choice was the singer Adele. When I asked how Adele inspired them, they just LOVED that she truly is all about the music – not about making a caricature of herself.

A gorgeous, gifted woman – what. a. voice!

We HAVE to get more of a spectrum of strong, intelligent women to be visible.

 

*http://www.humanrightsconsultation.gov.au/www/nhrcc/submissions.nsf/list/2AD5C6EC448A8B84CA25761500232FA5/$file/Stevie%20Martin_AGWW-7SHV8P.pdf

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7 Responses to “Who are our girls’ role models?”

  1. lamehousewife said

    I think if a woman seeks to be authentic, she needs to take her motherhood seriously…what an effect it has on others! BUT that does not mean necessarily from just the home, or the home at all if she is not called to this task. Motherhood is carried with you wherever you go…a spiritual motherhood, so to speak, that can help the world in a very significant way become more human, whether that is through politics, education, or other industries…However, we do see some child neglect arising from women who put a higher priority on those who are not her own…Children grow and move on, and I think sometimes women get impatient… I guess it is back to your post on balance:) I totally agree the “plastic” woman is not a good role model…blessings…

    • questionsforwomen said

      I agree that our natural tendancy to ‘mother’ is absolutley necessary – yet seriously lacking – in our world. Women need to use our natural gift BEYOND the home. I just worry that without strong women who embrace this gift and are visible (in a lot of areas) our girls will end up like the majority of us – soley allocated to jobs within the home or in ‘Pink Ghettos'(or BOTH! – which is generally the case).
      x

  2. Brilliant post – thank you for this. I think for me, recently I’ve realised that I was trying to be strong and empowered, but actually I was focussing on how a man should be, not thinking about my wonderful womanliness. So no wonder I was having trouble with it. I think actually, what women need to do is embrace the fact that they are indeed different from men, and accept and love the parts of them that are just so brilliant as women… we are caring, we are loving, we have so much humility, we also have so much strength – but its not strength like a man has strength, but more of a core power that means we can handle whatever is thrown at us. I could go on forever…

    I am writing music on this very subject and hope one day it can get out in the mainstream and be an inspiration for girls and women worldwide… Time for the world to change and for women to start loving themselves for who they are 🙂

    • questionsforwomen said

      Yes! Yes! In a previous post, I wrote about the playwright and activist Eve Ensler (who I went to see) and that night I bought her latest book called, “I am an emotional creature” and she’s absolutley right! We ARE emotional beings and we’re necessary to give balance to our world. Unfortunately – as you say – the only way to get to the ‘top’ is to have masculine character traits, as showing emotion is labelled as ‘weak.’ What a load of bollocks.
      We MUST embrace our female wonderfulness – BUT it also needs to be a visible force in our media (which is currently saturating us with the opposite). *Sigh*
      Good luck with your music – it sounds amazing! 🙂

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