Growing Up FemaleMy mother says a woman should have a set of screwdrivers.  I asked my grandfather if they should be common or Philips. He said that it didn't matter because my mother would use...

Growing Up Female

My mother says a woman should have a set of screwdrivers.  I asked my grandfather if they should be common or Philips. He said that it didn't matter because my mother would use any screw driver for a hammer.

Expert Answers
carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Growing up female is both challenging and enjoyable.  As a girl moves through adolescence,  changes in the body and emotions sometimes are almost overwhelming.  With  good parental support and non-stop communication, the girl will flourish and look forward to all the new things that are happening to her. 

In the 21st Century, female adolescents know so much more than twenty-five years ago.  The media's bombardment of sexuality and body image has enabled girls to know more about their bodies than maybe female adults do about themselves.  Some of this knowledge is good; however, there are negative aspects as well.  Experts are not sure why, but many girls are starting puberty at an earlier age. Because of this early onset,  these girls may face problems of teasing, poor self-esteem, and  depression. Again with parental guidance, these challenges can be conquered. 

The media's emphasis on body image has not been always been positive.  Girls encounter models and movie stars who bodies appear perfect.  Anorexia nervosa and bulemia have sprung from these images.  Hopefully, through education and understanding these terrible disease will be eradicated. 

What fun it is to be a girl!  Sharing memorable experiences with friends--talking, telling secrets, working together are all pleasurable times that stay in the heart. Hormones hit, and the boys come calling.  Looking back now, waiting for the boy to call did not seem enjoyable then; yet today, those times were gone too soon.

Adulthood has its own set of trials.  Deciding on the career finds it way to the top of the list.  Searching for that special someone who will support and love her. Relating to the parents as they grow older.  When the children come, the circle of life begins again; now the female adult must guide her daughter through the tests that every girl faces.  Life is never dull growing up female!

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Growing up female can be difficult because sorting out stereotypes from actuality can be very difficult from the "insiders" point of view (sorting out stereotypes about yourself by looking out at stereotypes through your own perceptions of stereotypes). There are so many stereotypes that abound today, especially sexual ones [Tolstoy once wrote that ladies of good families dressed like ladies of the night (we might say "hookers"), an observation surprisingly and ironically applicable to today in our post feminist liberation era]. Beauty seems to carry a special burden today that seems unique from other eras. Beauty is admired but crushed in anorexia and self-punishment; it is desired but abused; it is vaunted as a sought after goal but trivialized and objectified. For growing up female, it seems the best asset is a trustworthy pair of eyes that are not your own and that can see the stereotypes and steer you out of them.

Implicit Stereotypes

mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When I look at your first post and then your second post, I see a huge difference in your realization of what you are really asking.  Your mother wants you to have a youth--the fun of school or work where you reap the rewards, having the time for fun,  the time with friends to spend having both fun and serious discussions about life, the time to discover who you are and what you want to do with your life, in short, all the things she really couldn't do as she wanted as she made the decision to have a baby so young. Your mom sounds like she raised a thoughtful, warm, giving person which makes her and you good people.  Growing up female means figuring out what being female means to you and living as you believe.  People may try to mold you into something you don't want to be simply because you are female.  You need to be the strong female who knows what she wants, who she wants to be, and how she plans to get there.

trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Speaking for myself, a female who grew up when the role of female's changed dramatically in society, I think you should be a well-rounded female. That is what your mother wants for you. You shouldn't be helpless. You should try to do non-traditional things as well as traditional. Take your education seriously, have fun, make friends, be fearless. You never know what the path ahead will bring, so be ready to both be able to take care of yourself, have a family or not, and share your life with someone else or not.... the choice is up to you. I love being a strong role model for my students, someone who tries to do what she likes in terms of hobbies and being able to have a voice.

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sure, a woman shoud have a set of screwdrivers, and the knowledge of how to use them. That way she won't have to depend on somebody else for everything.

As for having a youth, having a child when you're young certainly limits it. Mom's right, you'll never have this much freedom again. Use it, but use it wisely.

etotheeyepi | Student

Since I read posting #10, I've been looking for stereotypes. In the previous posting, I gave an example of how my uncle won't hold a sales meeting with a mixed black and white clientele. In that particular sales meeting, he didn't cancel it, he sent a salesman to the black family's house, so the while folks wouldn't be spooked by the black folks. That must be a pun.

Also, this is totally cool, my grandfather reminded me of how I had experienced an example of implicit stereotyping.

A few years back, maybe I was thirteen, I went to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with my Grandfather and his friend, a black man, the son of a Pullman Porter, the grandson of sharecropping farmers.

During our first meal, Gramps asked me to watch the direction in which the waiter looked while he or she took the order.  For the whole week, each time we ate a meal in a restaurant, the waiter looked at Gramps before he look at me or the friend. I suppose that must be some kind of unconscious bias that the while man is in charge,


etotheeyepi | Student

I meant to say in the previous posting that I didn't know if the teacher's different response to different student's is an example of stereotyping or if it is an attempt to be sensitive to different cultures.

For a couple of months now, I have worked with an uncle in his businesses. He, like my Spanish teacher, uses stereotypical generalizations. For example in a sales meeting, one of the potiential clients was black, and my uncle canceled the meeting.  I don't know for sure why, but I think he worried that the black clients's Jerry-Springer body language would disturb the other clients.

It's my a list of things to ask.

etotheeyepi | Student

My high school Spanish teacher had an interesting theory about classroom management, which took advantage of cultural differences. To get more participation by Black students he called the parents and complained that the students were lazy.  For Hispanic students, he called the parents and complained about how the student disrespected el maestro.  For Asian students, he didn't call the parents. For Asians he played a game of chicken in that he threatend the student by saying the student might ger a B-grade, but he never gave an Asian student anything less than an A-grade because if he did the Asian student would be so angry, he or she would never participate again in the class.

etotheeyepi | Student

Did I say I would talk about red purses?  Mom thinks every woman should have one because they get noticed.  Mom might be right. People do notice red.

I had taken the bus to the Anaheim Public Library to meet a girlfriend.  At the bus stop, I saw a lady with a thousand-dollar-Louis-Vuitton, red purse. Knockoff? Well, it looked real to me.

The lady said, “Britney, I have a coupon.  Let’s go to Kohls.”

[Kohls is the poor woman’s Bloomingdales.]

I’m not Britney.  She’s my friend who I was supposed to meet at the library. Britney and I don’t look alike. I have straight black hair.  She has curls to die for. But no matter, I could not convince the lady that I’m not Britney.

I called Britney’s cell and left a message.  The bus arrived.  We headed south past Disneyland and into a sleazy part of Santa Ana.

My phone rang; it was Britney’s grandfather. He said he would come to Kohls and to call him if Winnifred (now she had a name) wandered anywhere else.

Winnifred didn’t know me, but she had no trouble finding the bus stop for Kohls. By the time Britney’s grandfather found us, Winnifred had me wearing a red blazer, a white oxford shirt (with a nerd pocket), and hip-hugging blue pants.  I felt totally like the flag of France, like maybe I should have sung the Marseilles.

I asked him how he found us.  He said that he just looked for the red purse.

etotheeyepi | Student

I should add that, according to Mom, girls should complain to a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend or a spouse because a girlfriend will listen, but a man will want to fix it. With that in mind, girls should be sure that they want action before they tell a man.

For example, after middle school, I could not compete physically with the boys I knew. I got bigger and stronger, but they got bigger and stronger faster.  They became hunks. I’m still a bit of a shrimp.

About the same time, I had a new friend. She wanted me to sleep over with her every night, or she wanted to sleep over with me on the other nights. After about a week, Mom and I had something to do, and Mom could not take my new friend along.  As we walked to the bus stop, my friend said, “My father is molesting me.”

I insisted that we tell my mother. She called someone that she knew in the police department. I heard later that my friend’s father went to jail, but I never saw my friend again.

Probably, I have never felt smaller in my life.  I had been vetching about being second best at arm wrestling or shooting hoops, and it seemed so trivial by comparison.

I'm surprised at how dark this thread has become. Maybe next time I can give Mom's view of red purses or white shirts or anything that is more of an upper.

etotheeyepi | Student

Hi Ms Mizzwillie,

Am I “a thoughtful, warm, giving person?”  I don’t know.  I hope you’re right.

Hi Ms Trophyhuner and Ms Mwalter,

I’m such a ditz.  I had not realized that the screwdrivers represent a metaphor for “be able to take care of yourself.” 

Hi Ms Carol-Davis,

About the challenging and enjoyable nature of being female, I totally can’t imagine being a boy, but most of my friends have been boys, and that suggests another of Mom’s Maxims:

“You need girlfriends. They will make you laugh. They will listen when you cry.”

etotheeyepi | Student

I have not had a youth, but my mother says that I should have one, a youth to move beyond. I'm eighteen; she's thirty-six. She changed my diapers and fixed my booboos, so I wonder if she had a youth to move beyond.