In 2008, I attended a Taylor Swift concert. As I walked to my seat it was impossible to ignore the excitement on all the little girls’ faces who were there to watch their idol. As she came on stage, the girls jumped up and down and sang along to every word. It was contagious. Even I felt like I was 10 years old again. While watching, I couldn’t help but think that Taylor Swift is (so far) a great role model for these young girls. I wondered if that would change. Would she fall into the mentality of “sex sells” as too many before her have? Fortunately, almost 10 years later, I am glad to say that she has stayed true to herself and her fans. For that, I say Thank You Taylor Swift.
As I watched the show, I had no idea that I would shortly find out that I was pregnant with my own little girl. Now my daughter is almost 9, and she loves Taylor Swift too. She loves her so much that she did her second grade book report on her. As part of the assignment, she dressed up like her idol. That morning, my sweet girl was a bundle of nerves. She dressed quickly, making sure to leave time for hair, makeup, and – of course – pictures. As we drove to school, the excitement beamed from her face. It was obvious that she was ready to conquer her presentation.
Although my daughter adores her, she doesn’t realize why Taylor Swift is such a great role model. She doesn’t notice that Taylor Swift dresses rather modestly or that she is a strong business woman. She doesn’t understand the meaning of some songs, such as Fifteen – even though every time I hear it I pray that she’s not like “Abigail”. I want my sweet girl to keep her innocence forever, but I know that I can’t keep everything from her for too much longer. After all, we live in an overly sexualized world where even TV commercials allude to sex. But, one day she will understand. When this time comes, I hope she stands up for herself. If someone touches her against her will, I want her to show the same strength that Taylor did in her recent court case.
Sugar and spice and everything nice:
Too often, little girls are told that they are “sugar and spice and everything nice.” This phrase seems innocent enough on its face value. Although, taking a deeper look at it, this phrase is so much more. I simply can’t take this phrase to mean that my daughter was born naturally sweet and nice. In comparison, I now have a son, and he is just as sweet and nice as she was at the same age. So, does this phrase actually mean that I’m to raise my daughter to be sweet and nice? After all, doesn’t this phrase lead to telling our daughters that they should act “ladylike”?
If that is the case, then how should a “lady” act? How sweet and nice should our daughters be? Do they just need to go along with whatever action is bothering them just to keep the peace? Is it “ladylike” to let some guy grab your ass and not say anything? Sadly, both of these phrases tell our daughters that there is a way to act; a proper way to behave. When we use these phrases we inadvertently teach them their voice doesn’t matter. I am grateful that Taylor Swift didn’t “play nice”. Instead, she made her voice heard. She bravely fought back against the boys will be boys mentality.
Boys will be boys:
The counter phrase to “sugar and spice and everything nice” is something about snails and puppy dog tails. As you can see, I don’t know it well. Why do I not know it? Because I hardly ever hear it. I could have looked it up, but it truly doesn’t matter because the phrase is really setting the precedence that our messy, wild, and out of control boys will be boys. Right? Isn’t that what we are told – boys will be boys? Many times our son’s actions are excused because they are boys, while our daughters are told to behave like a lady.
This mentality lasts through adulthood and is overly apparent to anyone with eyes, ears and at least half a brain. The naysayers can state that I’m taking words and phrases way out of proportion, but I ask you how? I’ve seen men in the workplace be called assertive when they show a spark of passion or temper. Women who do the same are called aggressive, or even worse – emotional. Even the US elected a President who was recorded saying that he grabs women “by the p*$#y.” Sorry, but I just can’t use the word… Even with all the vulgarity of his comment, he was so easily forgiven by many because boys will be boys. But, I ask you, how would you like it if someone grabbed any part of your daughter’s body?
You can’t be surprised:
I remember the boys in school that would pull down girls’ gym shorts, “pop’ their bra straps, and grab their ass. It happened to me too. They did this without our consent. Teachers saw this. If they say otherwise then they have no damn business being a teacher in the first place. It was blatant. The boys were as smooth as sandpaper. It happened walking down the hallways and in middle of the gym. It happened whenever they felt the urge. But… Nothing. Happened. To. Them. Though, the expectation for the girls was that you were to laugh it off. After all, boys will be boys.
Now that we are hopefully older and wiser, can you truly be surprised that guys like Donald Trump and David Mueller exist? The mentality that locker room talk and a little ass grab has been accepted through the history of our time. Women may no longer be considered property, but we are far from equals in this regard. Why? The answer has nothing to do with women’s abilities. Look at Taylor Swift! She is definitely one of the most able female musicians of our time, if not ever. It is because we allow this mentality to exist. If this can happen to her, it can happen to anyone. That means YOUR daughters and mine.
Our daughters and Sons deserve better:
As not only a mother, but a woman, I absolutely love the fact that Taylor Swift stood up to that misogynistic, ass-grabbing jerk. I love that she won her counter suit. I am in awe to know that she had the strength of mind to fight back. Again, I say Thank You Taylor Swift. In my household, you will be known not only for your music, but also for your brave fight against the “boys will be boys” mentality which continues to hurt our daughters and sons. Thank you for being the role model my daughter deserves.
We parents have to do better. We have to get ahead of this mentality. Raising our sons to think it is fine to touch any part of a girl’s body without her permission is NOT OK. It is not good for our sons, or our daughters. We as a society have to stop pushing this stupid mentality that since boys are boys they can do whatever the hell they want because THEY CAN’T. We have to take the blinders off. Fact is that this should have never happened to Taylor Swift or any other female. Until society changes though, I’m just thankful that women like Taylor Swift take a positive stand for themselves, my daughter, and every daughter out there.