Stop telling young girls they are feeble
This blog title was the headline on a recent Daily Mail Article that has sent a lot of young girls I know into a spin.
In this article Claire Fox, author of I Find that Offensive, calls today's young women Generation Snowflake, a term that's now used frequently in the U.S. and becoming more common here. It describes a fragile, thin-skinned younger generation that can't cope with conflicting views, let alone criticism.
In this article Ms. Fox goes on to describe a scene where she brings teenagers to tears as she mentions that rape isn't the worst thing that can happen to a female. She expected discussion but got tears instead. She says it illustrated this generation's almost belligerent sense of entitlement.
They assume their emotional suffering takes precedence. Express a view they disagree with and you must immediately recant and apologise.
The author continues to cite numerous things she feels show this group of young people are easily offended.
I showed this article to a group of young people and yes they were offended but none cried I hasten to add.
And while I agree with the authors comments somewhat, in the fact that this generation are easily offended, I think calling them the Snowflake Generation and expecting them to just get on with it misses a much wider point. We, the apparent adults, created them.
I have worked with thousands of girls and let me tell you they are unhappy, very unhappy and yes they get easily offended. We often compare them to earlier generations and say they need to toughen up, but actually they are going through a lot. Yes, things were bad in the 80's, women were repressed for sure but things for them now are different and more disturbing I feel.
Most of the young girls I talk to deal with sexual harassment constantly. It seems to have got much worse and most of them know or have experienced some kind of sexual assault. They are dealt with more like sex symbols than we ever were. Some blame the porn culture but honestly I think it is far more complicated than that and has a myriad of reasons, so when you talk with them and tell them rape is not the worst thing that can happen of course they get upset and angry, because they can all cite someone it has happened to, for them it is more real and closer to home.
And I am not alone in my thoughts. Jane Kenyon Founder of Girls Out Loud - a social enterprise on a mission to raise the aspirations of teen girls in the UK says:
'Let's take a moment to recognise the landscape our girls are growing up in and accept it is nothing like our teen years. OK, so we may have had some teen angst around body image and boyfriends and the ever confusing options but this is where the similarity ends. If you are 30+ I dare you to find synergy with the challenges our teen girls have to navigate daily - social media, porn, self-harming, depression and anxiety, teen pregnancy and STI's, reality TV, grooming, sexting, slut shaming, rape culture, endemic sexism and a society that tells them at every turn, that their value is intrinsically linked to their appearance. I also remember switching off from school and all its stresses when I walked out of the gate at 3.30pm but with the arrival of smart phones all this pressure is a permanent feature in their life, so I say, let's embrace and nurture our girls, let's build their self-esteem and resilience and let's leave name calling and labelling in the playground.'
We have also brought these children up to speak their minds and say when they feel something is offensive and while we may just get on with it, they will speak up about everything and anything, which I feel is a good thing.
However, in our attempt to protect them (the real issues with this generation) we have taken everything they say at face value, never making them wrong so of course they find dealing with a differing opinions challenging.
As parents, in our overriding need to protect we have brought up a generation who have a difficulty being challenged, but we can't blame them for that.
But the main thing that Ms. Fox missed was how many of these young people suffer with a mental illness, how many of them are unstable. Blame social media, the fake worlds they often live in or the media but the need for girls to be perfect is overwhelming and causing them problems left right and centre. Most of them feel overwhelming pressure to perform and be 100% all of the time, leading to a rise in anxiety and depression and a system pretty much unable to deal with it. In a lack of any real support for these girls they muddle through ad often end up unable to deal effectively with life, let alone a challenging viewpoint.
Calling them Generation Snowflake and feeble to me just misses the point and actually is not supportive at all. Yes, these girls are different but can't we be positive?
I spend most of my time with them and I find them creative, aware, emotionally intelligent and sensitive.
Never - spend a day in the life of one of these girls and you will see they are anything but feeble!