It brings to mind a couple of things - the song "Just A Girl" by No Doubt:
Take this pink ribbon off my eyes
And it's no big surprise
Don't you think I know
Exactly where I stand
This world is forcing me
To hold your hand
'Cause I'm just a girl, little 'ol me
Don't let me out of your sight
I'm just a girl, all pretty and petite
So don't let me have any rights
Oh...I've had it up to here!
The moment that I step outside
So many reasons
For me to run and hide
I can't do the little things I hold so dear
'Cause it's all those little things
That I fear
'Cause I'm just a girl I'd rather not be
'Cause they won't let me drive
Late at night I'm just a girl,
Guess I'm some kind of freak
'Cause they all sit and stare
With their eyes
I'm just a girl,
Take a good look at me
Just your typical prototype
Oh...I've had it up to here!
Oh...am I making myself clear?
I'm just a girl
I'm just a girl in the world...
That's all that you'll let me be!
I'm just a girl, living in captivity
Your rule of thumb
Makes me worry some
I'm just a girl, what's my destiny?
What I've succumbed to Is making me numb
I'm just a girl, my apologies
What I've become is so burdensome
I'm just a girl, lucky me
Twiddle-dum there's no comparison
I think that just about every girl feels these restraints being put on her at some point in her life. My parents were definitely more liberal with me than other parents. I got a car at 16. I was able to drive to the next town over for swim team practice by myself. But, I was not allowed to go to concerts until I was a senior in high school. I had a curfew my first two years of college (I stayed home and went to a JC). So, although I was given some freedoms, there were still some restraints on me. But, now, as a parent, I appreciate that the rules were made out of love and not necessarily sexism. I don't think it would have been different for a boy who followed my brother. But, I also realize that my family worked hard to make me feel that I should not be treated differently because I was a girl.
The second thing that comes to mind is something I just heard this week on NPR - The Hidden World of Girls (March 22nd edition). This is a captivating listen, with the stories being told reflecting what I'm sure are many, many girls' stories. I loved the way it was put together. I loved the stories that were told. And, I loved that it focused on girls! I have not previously heard of the Kitchen Sisters, but I will definitely be checking out their stuff in the future. I highly recommend The Hidden World of Girls!
Parents, teachers, older siblings...they all have blind spots when it comes to the children they work with and live with. After all, every child has a little bit of a secret life they lead...whether its trying a big cigar from an amusement park (I'm sure they don't sell those anymore for exactly this reason) - yes, I did that as a 12 year old - or talking to their alien connections on Venus (check out this episode of The Hidden World of Girls for more on this). It is in these secret lives that children push the limits, stretch the rules and even push back against reality.
I think its important to both impress upon girls that they are not a "just," while also giving them the freedom to explore those Secret Lives and figure out who they are and what they care about in life. We'll see if I can maintain that view as a parent!