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Friday, August 29, 2008

True Love Waits - Twilight

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I just read, True Love Waits, by Donna Freitas in the Wall Street Journal, an editorial about the Twilight vampire romance series.

She made some good points about the Twilight Series and the sex involved. I've read the first one and though no one "does it" the book is hot with anticipation.

Freitas argues that this book encourages girls to be abstinent and helps them understand they can have fulfilling romantic relationships while demanding respect from boys.

It's a compelling argument. In theory, it's one I'd like to hop on board with.

Don't do it. It's hot not to do it. And I remember - from being a teenager - how hot it is not to do it, just to fool around, to make him chase me. It really is much hotter not to do it. (Ironically, it's so hot not to do it that it makes you want to do it.)

Except that it doesn't account for the language in the book that struck me as exactly the same dialogue we hear from battered women and victims of teen relationship violence.

Not a small problem when you consider that around 20% of our teens have experienced teen dating violence.

"He couldn't help it," is what Stephanie Meyers argues is an acceptable reason for Edward to want to kill and harm Bella, the heroine. It's not just acceptable, it's romantic.

Battered women and codependent women (women in relationships with addicts) use this excuse in real life, as a "valid reason" to stay and take more abuse from someone who declares his "love" for her and his simultaneous inability to treat her with respect.

The question is - Is it valid?

The reason they don't "do it" in the first Twilight book - is that he's godlike strength "would crush her fragile, delicate, vulnerable body."

Oh, and his vampire instinct makes him literally want to kill her. He wants to so bad that he can barely touch her. The smell of her makes him think "lunch," the same way I feel jerks who catcall think of us - "lunch - meant for my consumption."

Hello, that's not the language of patient, abstinent, sweet and touching young love. That's the language of power and violence.

Meyers pretends Bella has power over Edward because he claims that being near her drives him out of control (wanting to kill her) that he can barely contain himself. But, existing in a pretty state and smelling good is a pretty passive power.

He has POWER and CONTROL- because he gets to choose whether to kill her or not. Lucky for her he doesn't - no matter how much she wants him to - until the 3rd or 4th book. Bella's death was another mingling of erotic and passionate love meets violence and pain. My cousin read me that part over the phone, "Isn't that great writing? Such a powerful description."

Yeah, of battered woman syndrome - not of true love.

This is not the language I want to use to make my daughter demand respect and maintain abstinence.

This is the language that makes victims of girls and women. It makes them believe that being a victim is romantic. In real life it's not at all romantic.

It's a distortion of love - not True Love.

A man who expects me to not to violate my own sense of self-preservation to win his love actually loves me. We need to stop being confused about that.

If I have to give up my self, my abilities, my life, my safety, my sense self-preservation to be with him - that is most definitely NOT true love. Those are all red flags.

You know another connotation of the word Twilight is a distancing from feelings surrounding reality - they used to put birthing mothers into a semi-coma called Twilight Sleep. This way they could participate in the labor, but without awareness or feeling.

Not my idea of healthy love.

I had to learn these lessons the hard way. God willing my daughter won't have to.

Should most of the issues in this series, or any of the red flag language, come up for Ainsley I hope her first and only instinct is to RUN FOR HER LIFE AND NEVER LOOK BACK.


I, quite ironically, am wishing Edward the Vampire Boyfriend was mine. I have a rare genetic condition called Hemochromatosis. Basically, my body doesn't get rid of iron as it should. Iron is poisonous, especially in the liver where it sits in my body. The only treatment is for me to be bled.

I really need one pint of blood removed from my body every week for the next while. Hot and passionate Edward would be a lot more fun then the phlebotomist at the lab. My husband, he's pretty great with the dishes - but, he hardly ever offers to suck my blood. And unlike, Bella, that would really be an asset in a mate for me.


Oh, and if you're going to buy the books to read - to make sure they are or aren't appropriate for your daughter (you probably should since all the girls all over America are talking about it) feel free to buy them here to support these Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me book reviews.

Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)

New Moon (The Twilight Saga, Book 2)

Eclipse (The Twilight Saga, Book 3)

Breaking Dawn (The Twilight Saga, Book 4)

The Host: A Novel

For more in-depth reading about how using romantic language and imagery really turns into violence against girls and women read these:

Battered Woman, Do Not Stay

Gossip Girl & Date Rape

Dating Violence

Sharpton Protests Ant-Girl Lyrics

Empowering Girls: Twilight, Female Crack Cocaine

How Falling In Love is Addictive

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Kiss Me Now, Marry Me Later

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This means Kiss Me Now, Marry Me Later and rabbit ears.

Who told you that?

Vicky's sisters.

It means Peace or rabbit ears.

Oh.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Peer Pressure & Faux Lunchables


Maybe you'll recall, last year my daughter had this annoying habit of harassing me about a school lunch tray and Lunchables. I sent her a healthy lunch in a pink plastic lunch box. Every day she'd negotiate with me, If I clean up my room can I have a Lunchable? Can I take a Lunchable on the Field Trip?

Only every time I sent a Lunchable she didn't eat it - because the food sucks.

Then I'd be superannoyed because they cost 3 freaking dollars. The whole point of sending a lunch is economy and health. Lunchables violates everything a lunch should be. It's the Kindergarten status symbol, don't you know?

But, then I read Jen's, Lunch Box Mania, Keyword "Mania." She wanted to cut down on disposable items like baggies. Good point. She did all the environmental and cost analysis homework for me and even told me where to buy these Faux Lunchable trays.

Target for $3 each.

How's that for peer pressure? Ainsley's status symbol is a Lunchable and mine is an economically and environmentally friendly object that will allow me to feed my kid healthy food without incessant complaining.

Please God, don't let it take her 35 years to figure out how to choose your peer pressure for your own self-preservation and best interests.

I figured I'd buy two so one could be in the dishwasher and one could be at school. Of course, I should have factored in the brother and bought 4.

I am also concerned about plastics due to the research I've been doing on early and precocious puberty.

Unfortunately, the only metal child-sized drinking options conflicted with our branding rules - High School Musical (I promised she could have High School Musical everything when she's in High School. But, it's not called 1st Grade Musical or Primary Musical), Princess and Bratz - those were my choices. So, I opted for the Dora plastic thermos with the snack compartment on the bottom until I can find a thermos without implications. (Okay, that's a good point - the lunch box is also plastic.)

As you saw in the video, the Baked Cheetos are going to buy me a lot of peace, I think. Last year I was probably too strict on her lunch snacks. This was daddy's brilliant idea. It's only 100 calories. We bought the bulk box for $8.95 at Sams Club and there are 30 packages.

That's 6 weeks of family harmony and peace - what a bargain.

Empowering Girls: Lunchables

Potty Dance and YouTube Peer Pressure

Empowering Girls: Girls-Only Public School

Empowering Girls: Early Puberty

Precocious Puberty

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out

Go Bratz Go!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

1st Day 1st Grade

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Yesterday I sent Ainsley off to First Grade.

Someone asked me, Did you cry?

Cry? I did cartwheels!

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Which is an exaggeration. I felt a some relief.

Have you any idea what its like to work with two small children in your cube?

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THIS is the reason I'm not doing cartwheels - Yet.

Zack is bored and lonely when his sister goes to school. He needs to go to preschool. Only I didn't realize my new town has only one and it fills up fast.

I'm praying for two biters and two separation anxieties - Zack's 4th on the list.

Mother's Day Out will give me 2 days a week to work uninterrupted. It will give him social contact with other children and stimulation. He's super smart - which is why he was trying to Make His Own Popcorn For Dinner. Check out his Potty Dance debut on YouTube.

How are ya'll managing your first day of school around the country?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Superwoman Mom = Supergirl Perfection Pressure

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by Tracee Sioux

Perfection - it's the pervasive modern-day feminine Achilles heel and we're passing it down to our daughters according to The Supergirl Dilemma a report about the pressure girls today are under.

Girls feel strong pressure to be perfect, look perfect and behave perfect all the time.

And I don't feel this is something we can blame on men. When was the last time you heard a man exclaim, I can't be perfect! I can't be everything to everyone all the time! Um, Never.

No, this is not an external problem - it's an internal feminine problem stemming from MOTHERS.

{{{{{Gasp}}}}} I said it.

To illustrate why I think so, here's two quick references to mother's preoccupation with perfection in our current feminine dialogue: Christine Fugate writes in the foreword of her new book, The Mothering Heights Manual for Motherhood Volume 1,
Over one hundred essays poured in from 26 states and four countries. Reading the essays shed light on the current state of the mom-mind. For example, the word 'perfect' (of a variation of it) was used over 92 times. That's almost one 'perfect' for every mom. While I think the questioning of perfection is positive (although not every essay questioned it), the frequency shows that the desire to be 'perfect' continues to loom over our sense of identity.

In The Feminine Mistake, Leslie Bennetts writes,
All too many American women are in thrall to increasingly deranged ideals of perfection. We live in a culture that constantly exhorts us to improve ourselves - and that assumes the perfectibility of virtually everything. If you don't like your nose, get a nose job! If you don't like the color of your hair, dye it! If your thighs are lumpy have liposuction! If you want abs of steel, go to the gym! Personal maintenance has become a national obsession that consumes a staggering amount of energy and resources; if American women put even a fraction of the time they spend on their appearance into working or social and political change, this country would be utterly transformed.

The Supergirl Dilemma, the report we discussed on Friday about gender stereotypes by Girls Inc., does not ignore the influence of adults in the girls' perceptions of what is important.

It's no surprise that the adult women - mothers and nonmothers included - answers to the questions mirrors the girls' answers to the questions.

True, People think that girls care a lot about shopping, 92% of the women said.

True, girls are under a lot of pressure to please everyone, 84% of the adult women said.

True, Girls are under a lot of pressure to dress the right way, 89% of the the adult women said.

What's fascinating is that women were much more likely than men to say they disliked that these stereotypes are true. Women are also more likely than the girls to say they disliked that these stereotypes are true - by a lot.

One reads the women's answers to the questions about girls and wonders if they aren't really answering what it was like for themselves as girls.

Perhaps because the women themselves are caving under the pressure of being perfect?

Our daughters emulate us, especially emotionally.

As in most reports about girls there's a lot of talk about media influence and pressure.

I'm definitely interested in helping Ainsley resist media pressure - but, who is helping her resist internalizing my feelings of being under pressure?

I'd like to see a report about how the media - television, marketing and advertising - is impacting mothers.

Are mothers figuring out how to deal with The Onslaught about women's bodies and sexuality, or are we internalizing it in an unhealthy way and then passing that onto our own daughters?

How are mothers going to resist media pressure that tells us we're never good enough?

If we can get right with ourselves, learn to accept our own selves in our imperfect states, and let this perfection pressure go, nothing will be able to hold our empowered daughters back.

If not. . . well, there's a lot of pressure to be perfect and I don't have to tell you how that feels - you already know.

Empowering Girls: Criticize Daughters' DNA

My Face/Her Face

Self-Loathing Sin Bank
Empowering Girls: Marketing Boundaries

APA Reports Sexualization of Girls Devastating

Math: It's A Tie

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Supergirl Dilemma, Girls Inc. Study

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I was waiting in the Drs. office with Ainsley analyzing a copy of Girls Inc.'s The Supergirl Dilemma. A report about what kind of stereotypes girls are still dealing with in today's world and the kinds of pressures it puts on them to measure up.

Reading the answers to the survey I figured what I really wanted to know is how my own daughter will answer these questions. (Also, it distracted her from the incessant complaining about waiting, which was driving me bonkers.)

So I read the quiz aloud to her:

* People think that girls care a lot about shopping? True or False?

True.

Do you like that it's true?

Yeah.

* Girls are under a lot of pressure to dress the right way?

True

Do you like that it's true.

Yeah.

* People don't think girls are good leaders?

False.

* People think girls don't know how to take care of their own money?

False

* Teachers think it's not important for girls to be good at math?

False.

The next day, I heard Ainsley holding court with her friends:

* People think that girls care a lot about shopping? True or False?

Oh, that's True! That's so true!

Do you like that it's true?

Yeah, I guess so.

What I learned about Ainsley, and her friends, is that she's pretty typical. In spite of all my going on about empowering girls she's a typical American girl.

We're making progress in major areas like math and science and money and leadership, according to the report.

Simultaneously, girls are feeling MORE pressure to look perfect and behave perfect and be good at everything.

The areas where it seemed we're not making as much progress are areas where the issues become complex and nuanced.

Questions like, Getting married and having children is the most important thing.
Well, what's so wrong with marriage and children? We wanted to know? Nothing. It's the "most important thing" part that throws the question off.

As a married woman I would put my family (husband and children) as my "most important thing" even though my career is pretty dang important. But then her father would answer the same way.

Ainsley knows that.

The question throws us both off kilter. What's progress? That it becomes not the most important thing? Or that she's not supposed to think it's the most important thing when she's 6 or 16?

It's a core value, is it not? One we don't necessarily want to outright discard.

I think a more informative question, for me, is whether it's still the ONLY thing that's important.

To which, hopefully my daughter would say no. While my mother and grandmother would say yes. While I say, Intellectually I know it's not, but it's a serious challenge for me to fight the SAHM social gravity & guilt that sucks me in, especially when I talk to my mother. But, I'm working on it.

That's the kind of generational gender progress I'm looking to achieve.

Other questions that throw us off kilter are about the ones about being kind and caring.

Ideally, we're teaching all our kids to be kind and caring and we're bringing the boys UP to the level we expect from girls. Not the other way around.

If you answer false to the question it feels like you're saying you want girls to be mean and uncaring. Which we know isn't what we want.

Girls should speak softly and not cause trouble is another question my daughter and I felt conflicted about.

No they shouldn't have to speak softly all the time. I don't. She doesn't. A little more soft-talking and a little less yelling wouldn't kill either one of us.

But no one should "cause trouble", is how we both felt like answering.

I get the question - because I have 2 decades of feminist theory behind me and I've been told I'm "causing trouble" for verbalizing the same concerns any man would have plenty of times - but the question shouldn't be designed for me.

They're designed for children who get their name and a check on the board for "causing trouble." One major focus of childhood is to devise ways to stay out of trouble, find your way out of trouble you've gotten into, or to push the envelope just enough to stay out of major trouble.

Basically I thought the implications of the question was out of context for children.

That said, I found the study enlightening. It tied together a pervasive feminine theme that needs to be stamped out immediately.

Find out what the theme is in Monday's post.
Subscribe to my RSS feed, or go up top and get an email subscription - because you don't want to miss it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Empowering Girls: Yoga Skills

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One of my goals, as a parent, is to teach my daughter coping skills and practical techniques for dealing with stress.


Personally, I've found yoga to be instrumental in building a core strength, core inner self and self worth, stress reduction and in communing with God.


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Of course I want her to have access to skills like this before she hits adolescents and all the negative coping strategies become available to her.

I used to use negative strategies like smoking cigarettes, experimenting with drugs, defining my self worth by boys and men, and a daily diet of Wellbutrin and Xanex. One of my primary objectives is to prevent the adoption of those.


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Over the summer I've been practicing yoga listening to Elsie Escobar classes on iTunes during Zack's nap. Sometimes I invite a friend. Sometimes I encourage Ainsley to try a few minutes.


She posed for these photos and then got bored before we moved out of the sitting pose. A fascination with the incense stick took over and she sat near me waving it through the air like a 4th of July sparkler.


The next afternoon I came out of the shower and found her teaching her friends yoga with a DVD, lit candles and burning incense.


Ssshhhh, Mom, we're having our relaxing quiet yoga time.


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The APA's Report on Sexualization of Girls recommends teaching your children a way to center themselves, meditate, pray, and view one's body as having value beyond its appearance, beyond male entertainment. Yoga does that for me.


Hopefully, you have healthy coping methods that center and ground you and hopefully you're finding ways to teach those to your kids.

Teach what YOU know.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Obsolete

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Zack has called us both Mama since he could talk.

He just learned to say Ainschley and sometimes it comes out Mama Ainschley.


I guess this makes me obsolete?


Monday, August 18, 2008

Reading Carnivals

Blog Carnivals build traffic so go visit the ones who have been kind enough to feature me:


Carnival of Family Life


Parents Helping Parents


Total Mind and Body Fitness Carnival



Health and Fitness Articles

Parenting Olympic Gymnasts

The Olympics are always an exciting time, to see those teenagers and early adults become the best in the world. It's awe-inspiring.

I want to do that! Ainsley said about her newest Heroine Gou Jing Jing.

Those children train every day from the time they are 3 years old for hours and hours. They don't go to regular school, they practice and practice and practice every single day. Their parents spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on training, I told her.

Oh, I don't want to do that, she said.

All that sacrifice - of youth, of fun, of childhood - makes me want to cry when one of them gets injured at the last minute and can't compete, like poor Chellsie Memmel whose ankle was injured and then she fell from the parallel bars during the qualifying round.

Listening to the bios you realize that, at least at first, shooting for the Olympics is a parental dream. Or, in the case of China, the State's dream.

Some of the Chinese girls were required to leave their family lives to train for the Olympics because they were inherently extra bendy and flexible or showed innate swimming skills when young.

Some say this is unfair, but my husband says, they were saved from a life of being farm or factory workers.

He has a point.

Some of the American athletes have parents who were Olympians. Mom or Dad won Gold - talk about pressure.

On the bios I heard that many of these teenage girls left their homes to train and one admitted that she has no friends outside the team.

What do you think? Does watching the Olympics make you want to sign your kid up for some hard core training?

Friday, August 15, 2008

What Do YOU Want?

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I'd like a better idea of who my audience is and what YOU want from this site.

I won a blog critique from Chris G at chrisg.com. If the co-author of theProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income tells you to move your site and give it a makeover - well, you do it. Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me is going to be redesigned soon.

This is your opportunity to tell me what you would like to see more of or less of.

What kind of design?

What kind of content?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

10 Antidotes to Self-Objectification & Sexualization of Girls

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Yesterday, we discussed Self-Objectification and Low Self-Esteem.

I loath problems without solutions and complaints that make us feel powerless. So, here's a list of 10 Antidotes to Self-Objectification and Sexualization of Girls.

* Media Literacy - talk to girls about the images they see. Point it out when there is obvious digital retouching like in Keira Knightly Stands Up for Her Girls and Yours.
Watch Dove's Onslaught campaign with her and discuss it. If it's age-appropriate take her to the Natural Breast Gallery and talk about how different the images of women in media are than the bodies of real women. Tell her about Photoshop and discuss the motives of the media to sell products by misrepresenting women's bodies.

* Athletics - A focus on the body that is nonsexual, athletics focuses on competency, agency and action. As participation in sports increases, participation in risky sexual-activity decreases. Taekwondo and soccer are good choices. The report sites cheerleading and dance as less empowering types of athletics due to the focus on appearance, sexiness, and thinness.

* Extracurricular Activities - Girl Scouts, band, after-school programs like Girls Inc., drama club, band, computer or video gaming clubs give girls an alternative to activities that focus on their appearance.

* Comprehensive Sexuality Education - "A central way to help youth counteract distorted views presented by the media and culture about girls, sex and the sexualization of girls is comprehensive sex education. Programs must include accurate information about reproduction and contraception, the importance of delaying intercourse initiation for young people, and the building of communication skills, and promotes a notion of sexual responsibility that includes respect for oneself and an emphasis on consensual, non-exploitative sexual activity."

* Co-Viewing Media with Parents - Parental comment on media children are exposed to is key to altering the influence of the messages. Watch TV with girls and comment on the messages. Contradict stereo-typical behavior when you see it, share your insights on advertising and media. Co-viewing also reduces the amount of inappropriate material children see.

* Religion, Spirituality and Meditation - organized religious and other ethical instruction actively combat the values conveyed by popular culture. When parents teach girls they are "more than their bodies" girls benefit. Talk to your kids about your idea of her whole self, and that "who they are" makes them valuable outside of their sexuality or gender roles. Insisting that girls remain girls and not be pushed into a precocious sexuality is something many churches do. Encourage meditation, yoga, tai chi, and prayer to teach girls to get in touch with their bodies and themselves as spiritual beings.

* Activism by Parents and Families - encourage girls to become their own activists by being one yourself. Join Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood to fight sexualizing and objectifying messages in marketing. Get involved in The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Take your daughter to a Dove BodyTalk, Campaign for Real Beauty Self Esteem Workshop. Sign your daughter up for the Girl Scouts Uniquely Me program.

* Alternative Media - Cancel the Tiger Beat subscription and subscribe to Girl Zone. Get your daughter involved in writing or producing her own media - a website or blog is simple enough. Stone Soup is a literary magazine written by children. Write your daughter a book about her. Most digital photography websites like Mypublisher.com will allow you to publish a storybook about your daughter, using images of her, in a beautiful hardbound book for $30. Throw out the Disney Princess books and videos and get some empowering alternatives like Princess Bubble.

* Confront Your Body Issues - If you, the mother, have a history of self-objectification or poor body image confront it and deal with it before you pass it down. Refuse to self-deprecate or equate your own value to how thin you are or how you look.

* Be The Empowered Woman - If you find yourself buying into gender-stereotypes in your own life, being too passive, not saying "no", holding yourself to an impossible standard of perfection, running yourself ragged to be everything to everyone - Stop It. She will emulate you. A mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance vaccinates her daughter against a low self-esteem, said Naomi Wolf.

Compiled from the APA Report on Sexualization of Girls and articles originally published on Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me.

Please subscribe to Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me via RSS or Email in the top-right corner.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Self-Objectification and Low Self-Esteem

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We all know how objectification works, some men see women as an object for their sexual pleasure.

But, what happens when girls and women begin to see themselves as an object for men's sexual pleasure?

The Association for the American Psychological Association
(APA) calls this self-objectification and/or self-sexualization in the Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls.

There's a host of evidence that when girls are exposed to too much media that they begin to view themselves less as three dimensional human beings and more as sexual objects. When this occurs, psychologists note the increase of:

* eating disorders

* low self-esteem

* depression or depressed mood

One interesting study noted that teenage girls from Figi had great body image and self esteem - until they were exposed to Western television. Once exposed, they became preoccupied with weight and body shape, purging behavior (throwing up) and body disparagement. Prior to television the Figian culture emphasized a robust body shape and based notions of identity not on body, but on family, community and relationships. The transition between healthy self-image to the increase of eating disorders was only 3 years.

Self-objectification is also directly linked to "diminished sexual health" among adolescent girls. One study found that when girls viewed their own bodies as objects for male pleasure condom use and sexual assertiveness, (saying "no") decreased.

Another study found that "undergraduate women who frequently watched music videos or read women's magazines, who attribute greater realism to media content, or who identify strongly with popular TV characters were also more accepting of sexually objectifying notions of women."

Accepting these sexually stereotypical and objectifying views manifested in negative attitudes toward breastfeeding and negative attitudes about normal body functions like menstruation and sweating.

When I read the APA's definition of self-objectification and self-sexualization it was like a mini-awakening for me.

That explains why, as a teen and young adult, I allowed boyfriends to treat me as their sexual object or plaything. It explains why I crossed many of my own sexual boundaries and didn't want to object "for fear of being rude" on several occasions. It explains why I allowed boys and men to make inappropriate comments about my body and its development from even the earliest age - heck, I didn't even know was "allowed to object."

Do you think you've ever self-sexualized or self-objectified?

Do you worry about this with your daughter?

Read 10 Antidotes to Self-Objectification and Sexualization of Girls for ways to prevent your daughter from objectifying her own body.

Empowering Girls: Marketing Boundaries

APA Reports Sexualization of Girls Devastating
Taekwondo For Girl Power

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Empowering Girls: Happy

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The greatest gift a parent can give a child, Tracee, is the ability to become independently happy.

And the greatest gift a child can give a parent is exercising that ability.

An email affermation/meditiation from Tut.com

I'd settle for that and call it parenting success.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Moms Speak Up

Julie Pippert is featuring my essay: Empowering Girls: Hootchy Clothes and Mean Girls on Moms Speak Up, a blog collaborative. Take a trip over there and give it a Kirsty won't you?

Thanks Julie.

Empowering Girls: Breast Cancer Risks

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Parents should be aware that there are three things that increase a girl's risk for breast cancer:

* If she starts her period early.

* If she does not have one baby before age 30.

* If she does not breastfeed.


From an interview with Teresa Knight, a St. Louis, MO OB/GYN with a Masters in Neuro-anatomy, concerning the risks of precocious puberty or early puberty.

Girls now start their periods three years earlier than previous generations. Fifty percent now start their periods by 10 years of age, increasing their risk of breast cancer.

Empowering Girls: Early Puberty

Precocious Puberty

Saturday, August 9, 2008

It Chick Clothes Photo Contest

B1C5196E-157F-40DA-B713-DA248F8D6612.jpgIt Chick Clothes, an online plus-size clothing store for tween girls, is launching a photo essay contest for young girls, asking them to submit photos that illustrate what it means to be a Tween Girl in America right now.
It Chick Clothes, as a company, believe that girls cannot be labeled or pigeonholed.
They're not just athletes, just pretty, just smart, or just students.
They are a tapestry, and we believe that these girls are the best people to tell us who they are.
They're're giving away a Wii Fit game to the winner.
In addition, they will post the top five entries and the accompanying text on their site at www.itchickclothes.com. The contest is open from August 1st to September 30th.
As part of this contest, they're giving away 10% of back-to-school sales (sales in the months of August and September) to Girls Inc., a national nonprofit dedicated to inspiring all girls to be stong, smart and bold. So enter the contest and shop !
See contest rules here.

Photo Source: It Chick Clothes

You're Amazing! New Winner

056FCD85-2FFB-4004-9B86-BF222E55946E.jpgCharlotte, with a stepdaughter, is our new You're Amazing! Giveaway winner. Please email me at traceesioux@yahoo.com to claim your prize.

If you wish to purchase Girls Inc. Presents: You're Amazing!: A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self as a result of our Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me and Girls Inc. contest, Claire Mysko the author wants to send you a free bookplate to put in the book.

A bookplate is a signed sticker to put in the inside jacket of the book.

Essentially you would have an autographed copy of the book to give to the Amazing Girl in your life.


Please order the book through the Amazon link, Girls Inc. Presents: You're Amazing!: A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self here to support this website. Send an email to Claire at c@clairemysko.com with "Empowering Girls" in the subject line and include specific information about who you would like it autographed to and she'll expedite bookplate requests.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Empowering Girls: Hootchy Clothes

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If you are using words like hootchy, skank, slut, whore or any other sexually derogatory word to describe the clothing (whether inappropriate or not) of any girl you are an active participant in further sexualizing girls.

If you are teaching your daughter (or sons) to use sexually derogatory words to describe other girls' clothing you are actively coaching her in mean girl behavior.

If you call a young girl's outfit "skanky," you've just taught your daughter that it's okay to call another girl a "skank" if she doesn't like her clothes. If you describe an outfit as "hootchy mama," you've just taught your daughter that if she makes the slightest clothing error, it's okay for others to call her a "hootchy mama."

You're basically making a judgement about whether a girl is sexually active or promiscuous by her clothing.

I'm hearing people say such things about 3-5 year olds. Think about it - are those words you really want to apply to children?

Children should be immune to our sexuality. When you apply sexually derogatory words to children, you sexualize them. You open them up to a sexual context that others can use against them.

If there is any group of people on the planet earth who should be entitled to wear less clothing it is children. Children should be immune to the sexual implications of all skin exposure.

There are some inappropriate clothing choices available to girls. We can tell our daughters why they shouldn't wear such things without being sexually derogatory about their friends, classmates, neighbors, family or their own secret selves that also wish to wear that clothing.

"I don't think that's appropriate," is generally sufficient explanation for why your daughter isn't allowed to wear something.

Regardless of what a girl is wearing she is deserving of respect.
It is impossible to demand more respect for girls by being disrespectful to girls.

Empowering Girls: Ho'oponopono for Girl Fights

Girl Fight

Second Generation Mean Girl

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Julia of Norfolk, Claim Prize

Last chance to email me Julia of Norfolk. I'm going to draw another winner if I don't hear from you by Noon Friday. traceesioux at yahoo.com .

Empowering Girls: Gossip Girl's Alison Tarrant

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One major girl influence I would define as anti-girl is Gossip Girl. An Ad Age article declares Alison Tarrant one of the 2008 Women to Watch.

It is the #1 show for girls 12-17. (Hello, Parents have you WATCHED this show? Make friends with the blocking system on your DVR already.)

The senior VP-integrated sales and marketing at the CW network has been one of the key people behind the scenes implementing innovative new commercials, including minutes-long "content wraps" and a prized integration in the buzzy rich-kids drama "Gossip Girl."

Some people might think Ms. Tarrant is playing with fire as she and the CW experiment with new ad formats. But a client that negotiates a "content wrap," which often consists of a series of longer ads or content pieces across an entire night of programming, probably stands out more in a consumer's mind than others who run normal ads in the same night. Likewise, when Verizon Wireless won a season-long integration in "Gossip Girl," it was poised to make more of an impression than its rivals, at least for the hour the program was on.


I can see what kind of marketing brilliance Ad Age sees in Ms. Tarrant, as I was a non-consenting hostage to one of her trashy porno Gossip Girl e-commercials one day when I innocently tried to open my mail. It is brilliant to essentially force all yahoo users to watch your ad by blocking the check mail buttons. And it is brilliant to encourage girls to post your ad on their websites, my space pages, blogs and email signatures.

Brilliant, but wrong.

I just have one little request: Ms. Tarrant - please use your marketing powers for good and not evil.

Here's a hypothetical question:

If The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty hired her away from The CW would this trash up the Dove Campaign or would it clean up Gossip Girl's marketing?


Read more:

Gossip Girl & R-A-P-E

Teen Sex Opera Pop Up

Image Source: Adage article.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me on Alltop!

Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me is on Women.Alltop.com.

I read onConfessions of an IT Girl that Alltop was THE place for cool kids to be. So, I rushed to join. And she's right. I saw all the cool kids there.

Empowering Girls: Olympic Hero's

Char has a great post on the 30 Olympians In Their Teens over at Weary Parent.


The Olympics have served all of us in our lives as a source for some pretty good heros and role models.


Who doesn't remember Mary Lou Retton?


Watch with your kids and talk to them about what kind of discipline, practice and dedication becoming the best at something takes.


We watched the trials for a little while and actually saw 4 or 5 world records set. Even speaking to kids about their "personal best" which announcers mention a lot is invaluable.


Head on over to Weary Parent and get the lowdown on all the accomplished teenagers.


Then bop over to Char's Sports Girls Play to find a good athletic challenge for your daughter.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Math: It's A Tie

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Stop what you're doing right now and dance a little gig.


This is a big moment in girl evolution, a big moment in feminism, a big moment for education and a big moment for the future of the United States of America.


Girls and boys are officially equal in their math scores, at all grades, according to a Science article published in July.


Parents and teachers persist in thinking boys are simply better at math, said Janet Hyde in an MSNBC article, Girls' math skills now measure up to boys', the University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher who led the study. And girls who grow up believing it wind up avoiding harder math classes.


So, really. Stand up and do a gig for all your hard work. All the hard work of math teachers and educators, all the hard work of feminists, and female mathematicians who did math anyway.


Read more on the study at Women in Science.


If you want a lot of different commentary on the study and its meaning, look at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker which has rounded up links (thanks to Women in Science for this link).


Next time your daughter tells you she's not good at math or doesn't want to take calculus, tell her you have statistical evidence that she can and will do just as well as her brother, and there's no reason to let her husband handle the money when she grows up.


Monday, August 4, 2008

You're Amazing! Offer and Winner

I have wonderful news. We had such a wonderful response to the You're Amazing! Giveaway , that Claire Mysko, the author, has made a special offer.


If you wish to purchase Girls Inc. Presents: You're Amazing!: A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self as a result of our Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me and Girls Inc. contest, Claire Mysko the author wants to send you a free bookplate to put in the book.


A bookplate is a signed sticker to put in the inside jacket of the book.


Essentially you would have an autographed copy of the book to give to the Amazing Girl in your life.


Please order the book through the Amazon link, Girls Inc. Presents: You're Amazing!: A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self here to support this website. Send an email to Claire at c@clairemysko.com with "Empowering Girls" in the subject line and include specific information about who you would like it autographed to and she'll expedite bookplate requests.

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Julia of Norfolk, Va, who has this adorable photo on her blogger profile, has won a copy of You're Amazing. (Drawing was done by Random.org.)

Julia, please, email me at traceesioux@yahoo.com with your address over the next few days. If Julia hasn't claimed her prize by Friday, I will go to Random.org for another winner.


Editors note: Can anyone who uses blogger tell me how to retrieve Julia's email address from the comments so I can email her directly?


Friday, August 1, 2008

Y's Letter to My Body

Yvonne from Joy Unexpected read this as the Community Keynote at BlogHer.

I don't ever want my daughter to feel the way that I have felt most of my adult life about my body.

Bravo Y.

If you can't watch her read it, you should read her Life Change Words.

Friday, August 29, 2008

True Love Waits - Twilight

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I just read, True Love Waits, by Donna Freitas in the Wall Street Journal, an editorial about the Twilight vampire romance series.

She made some good points about the Twilight Series and the sex involved. I've read the first one and though no one "does it" the book is hot with anticipation.

Freitas argues that this book encourages girls to be abstinent and helps them understand they can have fulfilling romantic relationships while demanding respect from boys.

It's a compelling argument. In theory, it's one I'd like to hop on board with.

Don't do it. It's hot not to do it. And I remember - from being a teenager - how hot it is not to do it, just to fool around, to make him chase me. It really is much hotter not to do it. (Ironically, it's so hot not to do it that it makes you want to do it.)

Except that it doesn't account for the language in the book that struck me as exactly the same dialogue we hear from battered women and victims of teen relationship violence.

Not a small problem when you consider that around 20% of our teens have experienced teen dating violence.

"He couldn't help it," is what Stephanie Meyers argues is an acceptable reason for Edward to want to kill and harm Bella, the heroine. It's not just acceptable, it's romantic.

Battered women and codependent women (women in relationships with addicts) use this excuse in real life, as a "valid reason" to stay and take more abuse from someone who declares his "love" for her and his simultaneous inability to treat her with respect.

The question is - Is it valid?

The reason they don't "do it" in the first Twilight book - is that he's godlike strength "would crush her fragile, delicate, vulnerable body."

Oh, and his vampire instinct makes him literally want to kill her. He wants to so bad that he can barely touch her. The smell of her makes him think "lunch," the same way I feel jerks who catcall think of us - "lunch - meant for my consumption."

Hello, that's not the language of patient, abstinent, sweet and touching young love. That's the language of power and violence.

Meyers pretends Bella has power over Edward because he claims that being near her drives him out of control (wanting to kill her) that he can barely contain himself. But, existing in a pretty state and smelling good is a pretty passive power.

He has POWER and CONTROL- because he gets to choose whether to kill her or not. Lucky for her he doesn't - no matter how much she wants him to - until the 3rd or 4th book. Bella's death was another mingling of erotic and passionate love meets violence and pain. My cousin read me that part over the phone, "Isn't that great writing? Such a powerful description."

Yeah, of battered woman syndrome - not of true love.

This is not the language I want to use to make my daughter demand respect and maintain abstinence.

This is the language that makes victims of girls and women. It makes them believe that being a victim is romantic. In real life it's not at all romantic.

It's a distortion of love - not True Love.

A man who expects me to not to violate my own sense of self-preservation to win his love actually loves me. We need to stop being confused about that.

If I have to give up my self, my abilities, my life, my safety, my sense self-preservation to be with him - that is most definitely NOT true love. Those are all red flags.

You know another connotation of the word Twilight is a distancing from feelings surrounding reality - they used to put birthing mothers into a semi-coma called Twilight Sleep. This way they could participate in the labor, but without awareness or feeling.

Not my idea of healthy love.

I had to learn these lessons the hard way. God willing my daughter won't have to.

Should most of the issues in this series, or any of the red flag language, come up for Ainsley I hope her first and only instinct is to RUN FOR HER LIFE AND NEVER LOOK BACK.


I, quite ironically, am wishing Edward the Vampire Boyfriend was mine. I have a rare genetic condition called Hemochromatosis. Basically, my body doesn't get rid of iron as it should. Iron is poisonous, especially in the liver where it sits in my body. The only treatment is for me to be bled.

I really need one pint of blood removed from my body every week for the next while. Hot and passionate Edward would be a lot more fun then the phlebotomist at the lab. My husband, he's pretty great with the dishes - but, he hardly ever offers to suck my blood. And unlike, Bella, that would really be an asset in a mate for me.


Oh, and if you're going to buy the books to read - to make sure they are or aren't appropriate for your daughter (you probably should since all the girls all over America are talking about it) feel free to buy them here to support these Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me book reviews.

Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)

New Moon (The Twilight Saga, Book 2)

Eclipse (The Twilight Saga, Book 3)

Breaking Dawn (The Twilight Saga, Book 4)

The Host: A Novel

For more in-depth reading about how using romantic language and imagery really turns into violence against girls and women read these:

Battered Woman, Do Not Stay

Gossip Girl & Date Rape

Dating Violence

Sharpton Protests Ant-Girl Lyrics

Empowering Girls: Twilight, Female Crack Cocaine

How Falling In Love is Addictive

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Kiss Me Now, Marry Me Later

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This means Kiss Me Now, Marry Me Later and rabbit ears.

Who told you that?

Vicky's sisters.

It means Peace or rabbit ears.

Oh.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Peer Pressure & Faux Lunchables


Maybe you'll recall, last year my daughter had this annoying habit of harassing me about a school lunch tray and Lunchables. I sent her a healthy lunch in a pink plastic lunch box. Every day she'd negotiate with me, If I clean up my room can I have a Lunchable? Can I take a Lunchable on the Field Trip?

Only every time I sent a Lunchable she didn't eat it - because the food sucks.

Then I'd be superannoyed because they cost 3 freaking dollars. The whole point of sending a lunch is economy and health. Lunchables violates everything a lunch should be. It's the Kindergarten status symbol, don't you know?

But, then I read Jen's, Lunch Box Mania, Keyword "Mania." She wanted to cut down on disposable items like baggies. Good point. She did all the environmental and cost analysis homework for me and even told me where to buy these Faux Lunchable trays.

Target for $3 each.

How's that for peer pressure? Ainsley's status symbol is a Lunchable and mine is an economically and environmentally friendly object that will allow me to feed my kid healthy food without incessant complaining.

Please God, don't let it take her 35 years to figure out how to choose your peer pressure for your own self-preservation and best interests.

I figured I'd buy two so one could be in the dishwasher and one could be at school. Of course, I should have factored in the brother and bought 4.

I am also concerned about plastics due to the research I've been doing on early and precocious puberty.

Unfortunately, the only metal child-sized drinking options conflicted with our branding rules - High School Musical (I promised she could have High School Musical everything when she's in High School. But, it's not called 1st Grade Musical or Primary Musical), Princess and Bratz - those were my choices. So, I opted for the Dora plastic thermos with the snack compartment on the bottom until I can find a thermos without implications. (Okay, that's a good point - the lunch box is also plastic.)

As you saw in the video, the Baked Cheetos are going to buy me a lot of peace, I think. Last year I was probably too strict on her lunch snacks. This was daddy's brilliant idea. It's only 100 calories. We bought the bulk box for $8.95 at Sams Club and there are 30 packages.

That's 6 weeks of family harmony and peace - what a bargain.

Empowering Girls: Lunchables

Potty Dance and YouTube Peer Pressure

Empowering Girls: Girls-Only Public School

Empowering Girls: Early Puberty

Precocious Puberty

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out

Go Bratz Go!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

1st Day 1st Grade

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Yesterday I sent Ainsley off to First Grade.

Someone asked me, Did you cry?

Cry? I did cartwheels!

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Which is an exaggeration. I felt a some relief.

Have you any idea what its like to work with two small children in your cube?

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THIS is the reason I'm not doing cartwheels - Yet.

Zack is bored and lonely when his sister goes to school. He needs to go to preschool. Only I didn't realize my new town has only one and it fills up fast.

I'm praying for two biters and two separation anxieties - Zack's 4th on the list.

Mother's Day Out will give me 2 days a week to work uninterrupted. It will give him social contact with other children and stimulation. He's super smart - which is why he was trying to Make His Own Popcorn For Dinner. Check out his Potty Dance debut on YouTube.

How are ya'll managing your first day of school around the country?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Superwoman Mom = Supergirl Perfection Pressure

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by Tracee Sioux

Perfection - it's the pervasive modern-day feminine Achilles heel and we're passing it down to our daughters according to The Supergirl Dilemma a report about the pressure girls today are under.

Girls feel strong pressure to be perfect, look perfect and behave perfect all the time.

And I don't feel this is something we can blame on men. When was the last time you heard a man exclaim, I can't be perfect! I can't be everything to everyone all the time! Um, Never.

No, this is not an external problem - it's an internal feminine problem stemming from MOTHERS.

{{{{{Gasp}}}}} I said it.

To illustrate why I think so, here's two quick references to mother's preoccupation with perfection in our current feminine dialogue: Christine Fugate writes in the foreword of her new book, The Mothering Heights Manual for Motherhood Volume 1,
Over one hundred essays poured in from 26 states and four countries. Reading the essays shed light on the current state of the mom-mind. For example, the word 'perfect' (of a variation of it) was used over 92 times. That's almost one 'perfect' for every mom. While I think the questioning of perfection is positive (although not every essay questioned it), the frequency shows that the desire to be 'perfect' continues to loom over our sense of identity.

In The Feminine Mistake, Leslie Bennetts writes,
All too many American women are in thrall to increasingly deranged ideals of perfection. We live in a culture that constantly exhorts us to improve ourselves - and that assumes the perfectibility of virtually everything. If you don't like your nose, get a nose job! If you don't like the color of your hair, dye it! If your thighs are lumpy have liposuction! If you want abs of steel, go to the gym! Personal maintenance has become a national obsession that consumes a staggering amount of energy and resources; if American women put even a fraction of the time they spend on their appearance into working or social and political change, this country would be utterly transformed.

The Supergirl Dilemma, the report we discussed on Friday about gender stereotypes by Girls Inc., does not ignore the influence of adults in the girls' perceptions of what is important.

It's no surprise that the adult women - mothers and nonmothers included - answers to the questions mirrors the girls' answers to the questions.

True, People think that girls care a lot about shopping, 92% of the women said.

True, girls are under a lot of pressure to please everyone, 84% of the adult women said.

True, Girls are under a lot of pressure to dress the right way, 89% of the the adult women said.

What's fascinating is that women were much more likely than men to say they disliked that these stereotypes are true. Women are also more likely than the girls to say they disliked that these stereotypes are true - by a lot.

One reads the women's answers to the questions about girls and wonders if they aren't really answering what it was like for themselves as girls.

Perhaps because the women themselves are caving under the pressure of being perfect?

Our daughters emulate us, especially emotionally.

As in most reports about girls there's a lot of talk about media influence and pressure.

I'm definitely interested in helping Ainsley resist media pressure - but, who is helping her resist internalizing my feelings of being under pressure?

I'd like to see a report about how the media - television, marketing and advertising - is impacting mothers.

Are mothers figuring out how to deal with The Onslaught about women's bodies and sexuality, or are we internalizing it in an unhealthy way and then passing that onto our own daughters?

How are mothers going to resist media pressure that tells us we're never good enough?

If we can get right with ourselves, learn to accept our own selves in our imperfect states, and let this perfection pressure go, nothing will be able to hold our empowered daughters back.

If not. . . well, there's a lot of pressure to be perfect and I don't have to tell you how that feels - you already know.

Empowering Girls: Criticize Daughters' DNA

My Face/Her Face

Self-Loathing Sin Bank
Empowering Girls: Marketing Boundaries

APA Reports Sexualization of Girls Devastating

Math: It's A Tie

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Supergirl Dilemma, Girls Inc. Study

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I was waiting in the Drs. office with Ainsley analyzing a copy of Girls Inc.'s The Supergirl Dilemma. A report about what kind of stereotypes girls are still dealing with in today's world and the kinds of pressures it puts on them to measure up.

Reading the answers to the survey I figured what I really wanted to know is how my own daughter will answer these questions. (Also, it distracted her from the incessant complaining about waiting, which was driving me bonkers.)

So I read the quiz aloud to her:

* People think that girls care a lot about shopping? True or False?

True.

Do you like that it's true?

Yeah.

* Girls are under a lot of pressure to dress the right way?

True

Do you like that it's true.

Yeah.

* People don't think girls are good leaders?

False.

* People think girls don't know how to take care of their own money?

False

* Teachers think it's not important for girls to be good at math?

False.

The next day, I heard Ainsley holding court with her friends:

* People think that girls care a lot about shopping? True or False?

Oh, that's True! That's so true!

Do you like that it's true?

Yeah, I guess so.

What I learned about Ainsley, and her friends, is that she's pretty typical. In spite of all my going on about empowering girls she's a typical American girl.

We're making progress in major areas like math and science and money and leadership, according to the report.

Simultaneously, girls are feeling MORE pressure to look perfect and behave perfect and be good at everything.

The areas where it seemed we're not making as much progress are areas where the issues become complex and nuanced.

Questions like, Getting married and having children is the most important thing.
Well, what's so wrong with marriage and children? We wanted to know? Nothing. It's the "most important thing" part that throws the question off.

As a married woman I would put my family (husband and children) as my "most important thing" even though my career is pretty dang important. But then her father would answer the same way.

Ainsley knows that.

The question throws us both off kilter. What's progress? That it becomes not the most important thing? Or that she's not supposed to think it's the most important thing when she's 6 or 16?

It's a core value, is it not? One we don't necessarily want to outright discard.

I think a more informative question, for me, is whether it's still the ONLY thing that's important.

To which, hopefully my daughter would say no. While my mother and grandmother would say yes. While I say, Intellectually I know it's not, but it's a serious challenge for me to fight the SAHM social gravity & guilt that sucks me in, especially when I talk to my mother. But, I'm working on it.

That's the kind of generational gender progress I'm looking to achieve.

Other questions that throw us off kilter are about the ones about being kind and caring.

Ideally, we're teaching all our kids to be kind and caring and we're bringing the boys UP to the level we expect from girls. Not the other way around.

If you answer false to the question it feels like you're saying you want girls to be mean and uncaring. Which we know isn't what we want.

Girls should speak softly and not cause trouble is another question my daughter and I felt conflicted about.

No they shouldn't have to speak softly all the time. I don't. She doesn't. A little more soft-talking and a little less yelling wouldn't kill either one of us.

But no one should "cause trouble", is how we both felt like answering.

I get the question - because I have 2 decades of feminist theory behind me and I've been told I'm "causing trouble" for verbalizing the same concerns any man would have plenty of times - but the question shouldn't be designed for me.

They're designed for children who get their name and a check on the board for "causing trouble." One major focus of childhood is to devise ways to stay out of trouble, find your way out of trouble you've gotten into, or to push the envelope just enough to stay out of major trouble.

Basically I thought the implications of the question was out of context for children.

That said, I found the study enlightening. It tied together a pervasive feminine theme that needs to be stamped out immediately.

Find out what the theme is in Monday's post.
Subscribe to my RSS feed, or go up top and get an email subscription - because you don't want to miss it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Empowering Girls: Yoga Skills

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One of my goals, as a parent, is to teach my daughter coping skills and practical techniques for dealing with stress.


Personally, I've found yoga to be instrumental in building a core strength, core inner self and self worth, stress reduction and in communing with God.


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Of course I want her to have access to skills like this before she hits adolescents and all the negative coping strategies become available to her.

I used to use negative strategies like smoking cigarettes, experimenting with drugs, defining my self worth by boys and men, and a daily diet of Wellbutrin and Xanex. One of my primary objectives is to prevent the adoption of those.


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Over the summer I've been practicing yoga listening to Elsie Escobar classes on iTunes during Zack's nap. Sometimes I invite a friend. Sometimes I encourage Ainsley to try a few minutes.


She posed for these photos and then got bored before we moved out of the sitting pose. A fascination with the incense stick took over and she sat near me waving it through the air like a 4th of July sparkler.


The next afternoon I came out of the shower and found her teaching her friends yoga with a DVD, lit candles and burning incense.


Ssshhhh, Mom, we're having our relaxing quiet yoga time.


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The APA's Report on Sexualization of Girls recommends teaching your children a way to center themselves, meditate, pray, and view one's body as having value beyond its appearance, beyond male entertainment. Yoga does that for me.


Hopefully, you have healthy coping methods that center and ground you and hopefully you're finding ways to teach those to your kids.

Teach what YOU know.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Obsolete

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Zack has called us both Mama since he could talk.

He just learned to say Ainschley and sometimes it comes out Mama Ainschley.


I guess this makes me obsolete?


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

So Sexy So Soon


I'm currently reading this book for review, I'll let you know what I think about its' strategies for parents when I finish.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reading Carnivals

Blog Carnivals build traffic so go visit the ones who have been kind enough to feature me:


Carnival of Family Life


Parents Helping Parents


Total Mind and Body Fitness Carnival



Health and Fitness Articles

Parenting Olympic Gymnasts

The Olympics are always an exciting time, to see those teenagers and early adults become the best in the world. It's awe-inspiring.

I want to do that! Ainsley said about her newest Heroine Gou Jing Jing.

Those children train every day from the time they are 3 years old for hours and hours. They don't go to regular school, they practice and practice and practice every single day. Their parents spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on training, I told her.

Oh, I don't want to do that, she said.

All that sacrifice - of youth, of fun, of childhood - makes me want to cry when one of them gets injured at the last minute and can't compete, like poor Chellsie Memmel whose ankle was injured and then she fell from the parallel bars during the qualifying round.

Listening to the bios you realize that, at least at first, shooting for the Olympics is a parental dream. Or, in the case of China, the State's dream.

Some of the Chinese girls were required to leave their family lives to train for the Olympics because they were inherently extra bendy and flexible or showed innate swimming skills when young.

Some say this is unfair, but my husband says, they were saved from a life of being farm or factory workers.

He has a point.

Some of the American athletes have parents who were Olympians. Mom or Dad won Gold - talk about pressure.

On the bios I heard that many of these teenage girls left their homes to train and one admitted that she has no friends outside the team.

What do you think? Does watching the Olympics make you want to sign your kid up for some hard core training?

Friday, August 15, 2008

What Do YOU Want?

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I'd like a better idea of who my audience is and what YOU want from this site.

I won a blog critique from Chris G at chrisg.com. If the co-author of theProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income tells you to move your site and give it a makeover - well, you do it. Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me is going to be redesigned soon.

This is your opportunity to tell me what you would like to see more of or less of.

What kind of design?

What kind of content?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

10 Antidotes to Self-Objectification & Sexualization of Girls

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Yesterday, we discussed Self-Objectification and Low Self-Esteem.

I loath problems without solutions and complaints that make us feel powerless. So, here's a list of 10 Antidotes to Self-Objectification and Sexualization of Girls.

* Media Literacy - talk to girls about the images they see. Point it out when there is obvious digital retouching like in Keira Knightly Stands Up for Her Girls and Yours.
Watch Dove's Onslaught campaign with her and discuss it. If it's age-appropriate take her to the Natural Breast Gallery and talk about how different the images of women in media are than the bodies of real women. Tell her about Photoshop and discuss the motives of the media to sell products by misrepresenting women's bodies.

* Athletics - A focus on the body that is nonsexual, athletics focuses on competency, agency and action. As participation in sports increases, participation in risky sexual-activity decreases. Taekwondo and soccer are good choices. The report sites cheerleading and dance as less empowering types of athletics due to the focus on appearance, sexiness, and thinness.

* Extracurricular Activities - Girl Scouts, band, after-school programs like Girls Inc., drama club, band, computer or video gaming clubs give girls an alternative to activities that focus on their appearance.

* Comprehensive Sexuality Education - "A central way to help youth counteract distorted views presented by the media and culture about girls, sex and the sexualization of girls is comprehensive sex education. Programs must include accurate information about reproduction and contraception, the importance of delaying intercourse initiation for young people, and the building of communication skills, and promotes a notion of sexual responsibility that includes respect for oneself and an emphasis on consensual, non-exploitative sexual activity."

* Co-Viewing Media with Parents - Parental comment on media children are exposed to is key to altering the influence of the messages. Watch TV with girls and comment on the messages. Contradict stereo-typical behavior when you see it, share your insights on advertising and media. Co-viewing also reduces the amount of inappropriate material children see.

* Religion, Spirituality and Meditation - organized religious and other ethical instruction actively combat the values conveyed by popular culture. When parents teach girls they are "more than their bodies" girls benefit. Talk to your kids about your idea of her whole self, and that "who they are" makes them valuable outside of their sexuality or gender roles. Insisting that girls remain girls and not be pushed into a precocious sexuality is something many churches do. Encourage meditation, yoga, tai chi, and prayer to teach girls to get in touch with their bodies and themselves as spiritual beings.

* Activism by Parents and Families - encourage girls to become their own activists by being one yourself. Join Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood to fight sexualizing and objectifying messages in marketing. Get involved in The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Take your daughter to a Dove BodyTalk, Campaign for Real Beauty Self Esteem Workshop. Sign your daughter up for the Girl Scouts Uniquely Me program.

* Alternative Media - Cancel the Tiger Beat subscription and subscribe to Girl Zone. Get your daughter involved in writing or producing her own media - a website or blog is simple enough. Stone Soup is a literary magazine written by children. Write your daughter a book about her. Most digital photography websites like Mypublisher.com will allow you to publish a storybook about your daughter, using images of her, in a beautiful hardbound book for $30. Throw out the Disney Princess books and videos and get some empowering alternatives like Princess Bubble.

* Confront Your Body Issues - If you, the mother, have a history of self-objectification or poor body image confront it and deal with it before you pass it down. Refuse to self-deprecate or equate your own value to how thin you are or how you look.

* Be The Empowered Woman - If you find yourself buying into gender-stereotypes in your own life, being too passive, not saying "no", holding yourself to an impossible standard of perfection, running yourself ragged to be everything to everyone - Stop It. She will emulate you. A mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance vaccinates her daughter against a low self-esteem, said Naomi Wolf.

Compiled from the APA Report on Sexualization of Girls and articles originally published on Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me.

Please subscribe to Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me via RSS or Email in the top-right corner.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Self-Objectification and Low Self-Esteem

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We all know how objectification works, some men see women as an object for their sexual pleasure.

But, what happens when girls and women begin to see themselves as an object for men's sexual pleasure?

The Association for the American Psychological Association
(APA) calls this self-objectification and/or self-sexualization in the Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls.

There's a host of evidence that when girls are exposed to too much media that they begin to view themselves less as three dimensional human beings and more as sexual objects. When this occurs, psychologists note the increase of:

* eating disorders

* low self-esteem

* depression or depressed mood

One interesting study noted that teenage girls from Figi had great body image and self esteem - until they were exposed to Western television. Once exposed, they became preoccupied with weight and body shape, purging behavior (throwing up) and body disparagement. Prior to television the Figian culture emphasized a robust body shape and based notions of identity not on body, but on family, community and relationships. The transition between healthy self-image to the increase of eating disorders was only 3 years.

Self-objectification is also directly linked to "diminished sexual health" among adolescent girls. One study found that when girls viewed their own bodies as objects for male pleasure condom use and sexual assertiveness, (saying "no") decreased.

Another study found that "undergraduate women who frequently watched music videos or read women's magazines, who attribute greater realism to media content, or who identify strongly with popular TV characters were also more accepting of sexually objectifying notions of women."

Accepting these sexually stereotypical and objectifying views manifested in negative attitudes toward breastfeeding and negative attitudes about normal body functions like menstruation and sweating.

When I read the APA's definition of self-objectification and self-sexualization it was like a mini-awakening for me.

That explains why, as a teen and young adult, I allowed boyfriends to treat me as their sexual object or plaything. It explains why I crossed many of my own sexual boundaries and didn't want to object "for fear of being rude" on several occasions. It explains why I allowed boys and men to make inappropriate comments about my body and its development from even the earliest age - heck, I didn't even know was "allowed to object."

Do you think you've ever self-sexualized or self-objectified?

Do you worry about this with your daughter?

Read 10 Antidotes to Self-Objectification and Sexualization of Girls for ways to prevent your daughter from objectifying her own body.

Empowering Girls: Marketing Boundaries

APA Reports Sexualization of Girls Devastating
Taekwondo For Girl Power

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Empowering Girls: Happy

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The greatest gift a parent can give a child, Tracee, is the ability to become independently happy.

And the greatest gift a child can give a parent is exercising that ability.

An email affermation/meditiation from Tut.com

I'd settle for that and call it parenting success.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Moms Speak Up

Julie Pippert is featuring my essay: Empowering Girls: Hootchy Clothes and Mean Girls on Moms Speak Up, a blog collaborative. Take a trip over there and give it a Kirsty won't you?

Thanks Julie.

Empowering Girls: Breast Cancer Risks

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Parents should be aware that there are three things that increase a girl's risk for breast cancer:

* If she starts her period early.

* If she does not have one baby before age 30.

* If she does not breastfeed.


From an interview with Teresa Knight, a St. Louis, MO OB/GYN with a Masters in Neuro-anatomy, concerning the risks of precocious puberty or early puberty.

Girls now start their periods three years earlier than previous generations. Fifty percent now start their periods by 10 years of age, increasing their risk of breast cancer.

Empowering Girls: Early Puberty

Precocious Puberty

Saturday, August 9, 2008

It Chick Clothes Photo Contest

B1C5196E-157F-40DA-B713-DA248F8D6612.jpgIt Chick Clothes, an online plus-size clothing store for tween girls, is launching a photo essay contest for young girls, asking them to submit photos that illustrate what it means to be a Tween Girl in America right now.
It Chick Clothes, as a company, believe that girls cannot be labeled or pigeonholed.
They're not just athletes, just pretty, just smart, or just students.
They are a tapestry, and we believe that these girls are the best people to tell us who they are.
They're're giving away a Wii Fit game to the winner.
In addition, they will post the top five entries and the accompanying text on their site at www.itchickclothes.com. The contest is open from August 1st to September 30th.
As part of this contest, they're giving away 10% of back-to-school sales (sales in the months of August and September) to Girls Inc., a national nonprofit dedicated to inspiring all girls to be stong, smart and bold. So enter the contest and shop !
See contest rules here.

Photo Source: It Chick Clothes

You're Amazing! New Winner

056FCD85-2FFB-4004-9B86-BF222E55946E.jpgCharlotte, with a stepdaughter, is our new You're Amazing! Giveaway winner. Please email me at traceesioux@yahoo.com to claim your prize.

If you wish to purchase Girls Inc. Presents: You're Amazing!: A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self as a result of our Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me and Girls Inc. contest, Claire Mysko the author wants to send you a free bookplate to put in the book.

A bookplate is a signed sticker to put in the inside jacket of the book.

Essentially you would have an autographed copy of the book to give to the Amazing Girl in your life.


Please order the book through the Amazon link, Girls Inc. Presents: You're Amazing!: A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self here to support this website. Send an email to Claire at c@clairemysko.com with "Empowering Girls" in the subject line and include specific information about who you would like it autographed to and she'll expedite bookplate requests.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Empowering Girls: Hootchy Clothes

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If you are using words like hootchy, skank, slut, whore or any other sexually derogatory word to describe the clothing (whether inappropriate or not) of any girl you are an active participant in further sexualizing girls.

If you are teaching your daughter (or sons) to use sexually derogatory words to describe other girls' clothing you are actively coaching her in mean girl behavior.

If you call a young girl's outfit "skanky," you've just taught your daughter that it's okay to call another girl a "skank" if she doesn't like her clothes. If you describe an outfit as "hootchy mama," you've just taught your daughter that if she makes the slightest clothing error, it's okay for others to call her a "hootchy mama."

You're basically making a judgement about whether a girl is sexually active or promiscuous by her clothing.

I'm hearing people say such things about 3-5 year olds. Think about it - are those words you really want to apply to children?

Children should be immune to our sexuality. When you apply sexually derogatory words to children, you sexualize them. You open them up to a sexual context that others can use against them.

If there is any group of people on the planet earth who should be entitled to wear less clothing it is children. Children should be immune to the sexual implications of all skin exposure.

There are some inappropriate clothing choices available to girls. We can tell our daughters why they shouldn't wear such things without being sexually derogatory about their friends, classmates, neighbors, family or their own secret selves that also wish to wear that clothing.

"I don't think that's appropriate," is generally sufficient explanation for why your daughter isn't allowed to wear something.

Regardless of what a girl is wearing she is deserving of respect.
It is impossible to demand more respect for girls by being disrespectful to girls.

Empowering Girls: Ho'oponopono for Girl Fights

Girl Fight

Second Generation Mean Girl

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Julia of Norfolk, Claim Prize

Last chance to email me Julia of Norfolk. I'm going to draw another winner if I don't hear from you by Noon Friday. traceesioux at yahoo.com .

Empowering Girls: Gossip Girl's Alison Tarrant

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One major girl influence I would define as anti-girl is Gossip Girl. An Ad Age article declares Alison Tarrant one of the 2008 Women to Watch.

It is the #1 show for girls 12-17. (Hello, Parents have you WATCHED this show? Make friends with the blocking system on your DVR already.)

The senior VP-integrated sales and marketing at the CW network has been one of the key people behind the scenes implementing innovative new commercials, including minutes-long "content wraps" and a prized integration in the buzzy rich-kids drama "Gossip Girl."

Some people might think Ms. Tarrant is playing with fire as she and the CW experiment with new ad formats. But a client that negotiates a "content wrap," which often consists of a series of longer ads or content pieces across an entire night of programming, probably stands out more in a consumer's mind than others who run normal ads in the same night. Likewise, when Verizon Wireless won a season-long integration in "Gossip Girl," it was poised to make more of an impression than its rivals, at least for the hour the program was on.


I can see what kind of marketing brilliance Ad Age sees in Ms. Tarrant, as I was a non-consenting hostage to one of her trashy porno Gossip Girl e-commercials one day when I innocently tried to open my mail. It is brilliant to essentially force all yahoo users to watch your ad by blocking the check mail buttons. And it is brilliant to encourage girls to post your ad on their websites, my space pages, blogs and email signatures.

Brilliant, but wrong.

I just have one little request: Ms. Tarrant - please use your marketing powers for good and not evil.

Here's a hypothetical question:

If The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty hired her away from The CW would this trash up the Dove Campaign or would it clean up Gossip Girl's marketing?


Read more:

Gossip Girl & R-A-P-E

Teen Sex Opera Pop Up

Image Source: Adage article.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me on Alltop!

Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me is on Women.Alltop.com.

I read onConfessions of an IT Girl that Alltop was THE place for cool kids to be. So, I rushed to join. And she's right. I saw all the cool kids there.

Empowering Girls: Olympic Hero's

Char has a great post on the 30 Olympians In Their Teens over at Weary Parent.


The Olympics have served all of us in our lives as a source for some pretty good heros and role models.


Who doesn't remember Mary Lou Retton?


Watch with your kids and talk to them about what kind of discipline, practice and dedication becoming the best at something takes.


We watched the trials for a little while and actually saw 4 or 5 world records set. Even speaking to kids about their "personal best" which announcers mention a lot is invaluable.


Head on over to Weary Parent and get the lowdown on all the accomplished teenagers.


Then bop over to Char's Sports Girls Play to find a good athletic challenge for your daughter.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Math: It's A Tie

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Stop what you're doing right now and dance a little gig.


This is a big moment in girl evolution, a big moment in feminism, a big moment for education and a big moment for the future of the United States of America.


Girls and boys are officially equal in their math scores, at all grades, according to a Science article published in July.


Parents and teachers persist in thinking boys are simply better at math, said Janet Hyde in an MSNBC article, Girls' math skills now measure up to boys', the University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher who led the study. And girls who grow up believing it wind up avoiding harder math classes.


So, really. Stand up and do a gig for all your hard work. All the hard work of math teachers and educators, all the hard work of feminists, and female mathematicians who did math anyway.


Read more on the study at Women in Science.


If you want a lot of different commentary on the study and its meaning, look at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker which has rounded up links (thanks to Women in Science for this link).


Next time your daughter tells you she's not good at math or doesn't want to take calculus, tell her you have statistical evidence that she can and will do just as well as her brother, and there's no reason to let her husband handle the money when she grows up.


Monday, August 4, 2008

You're Amazing! Offer and Winner

I have wonderful news. We had such a wonderful response to the You're Amazing! Giveaway , that Claire Mysko, the author, has made a special offer.


If you wish to purchase Girls Inc. Presents: You're Amazing!: A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self as a result of our Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me and Girls Inc. contest, Claire Mysko the author wants to send you a free bookplate to put in the book.


A bookplate is a signed sticker to put in the inside jacket of the book.


Essentially you would have an autographed copy of the book to give to the Amazing Girl in your life.


Please order the book through the Amazon link, Girls Inc. Presents: You're Amazing!: A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self here to support this website. Send an email to Claire at c@clairemysko.com with "Empowering Girls" in the subject line and include specific information about who you would like it autographed to and she'll expedite bookplate requests.

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Julia of Norfolk, Va, who has this adorable photo on her blogger profile, has won a copy of You're Amazing. (Drawing was done by Random.org.)

Julia, please, email me at traceesioux@yahoo.com with your address over the next few days. If Julia hasn't claimed her prize by Friday, I will go to Random.org for another winner.


Editors note: Can anyone who uses blogger tell me how to retrieve Julia's email address from the comments so I can email her directly?


Friday, August 1, 2008

Y's Letter to My Body

Yvonne from Joy Unexpected read this as the Community Keynote at BlogHer.

I don't ever want my daughter to feel the way that I have felt most of my adult life about my body.

Bravo Y.

If you can't watch her read it, you should read her Life Change Words.