State of the Girl:
What Does It Mean to Be a Girl?
by Alina Wilson
I’ve never really spent time thinking about what means to be a girl. I’m not sure where I would start if I did. The first thing I think of is long dresses, long hair, and Barbie dolls. What does it mean to be a girl? I. Don’t. Know. It’s confusing, and rightly so. 50% of the world’s population should not be categorized so easily, so carelessly. So I look outside of myself. I ask my friends, my teachers, my family, and my google search box what it means to be a girl. The answers vary: not a boy, helping others, maternal instincts, periods, feelings of inferiority, laundry. Suddenly, my brain feels like one of those ugly scatter graphs that you try to put a line through but can’t because the points are all over the place. I’m in a state of confusion. What does it mean to be a girl?
Being a woman is not something you can summarize in double-spaced, Times New Roman font, one and a half page essay. It’s way too complex. It is more than just a symbol on a sign telling you which bathroom to use. It’s more than just cinnamon and spice and everything nice. It’s… well, I still don’t have an answer for you. But then again, maybe the meaning of being a woman is something each woman has to discover for herself. That’s why it bothers me so much when women are boxed, quantified, qualified, and taken advantage of.
We live in a country and a society that likes to deny its problems. We like to tell our oppressed that they are not oppressed. We like to tell those who lack opportunity that if they just worked a little harder, they could solve all of their problems. We like to tell our downtrodden that all they need to do is change their mindset. We hide issues with rhetoric and desensitize our people. That’s why I was utterly shocked when I heard about Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer and mogul who has been using his status to sexually harass women for decades. I had fallen asleep and let myself be convinced that they were right. And then something like this happens. Again. If sexism is no longer a pressing issue, how is it that female actors still have to spend time on the casting couch to catch their break?
America says that it is the land of opportunity. Now, we must actually be it.
What does it mean to be a girl? I still don’t have an answer for you. However, maybe if we left pondering that question to each individual and worried more about how to treat girls and women, America and the world would be better off.