It’s back to school time for the northern hemisphere. I make this differentiation because I have mostly not lived north of the equator for the past two decades. So this is applicable in February for us Southern Hemisphereans as well. Those of you who get to go to school and get an education should thank your parents and be grateful for the opportunity. Millions of girls around the world risk harassment and kidnapping, even getting shot in the face, just for the chance.

On paper, girls are doing well. High test scores, high college enrollment levels and graduation rates. But as we all know, things on paper tell barely half the story. And story after study has come out about girls’ self esteem, sexting and bullying: all school and achievement-related issues. I personally do not remember anyone ever telling me to dumb myself down, or not to win a game or an argument because I was a girl. But I have friends who have. It makes boys feel bad, they were told.

But more importantly, how does it make the girls feel? The boys get over it, generally too cool to care what the girls are doing. But the systematic subjugation of a girl’s intellect so as not to offend or make others uncomfortable is child abuse. It seems to me that young folk today get it, they don’t go in for this old school sexist nonsense so much. But I still see the vestiges around, on the edges, in the crevices of patriarchy.

Stay strong, smart, and vigilant. You, girl, never have to be less of anything for someone else’s comfort. Standing up for your right to learn, to excel and to succeed is never wrong. Walk into your new/old school like you own it, at least own yourself, and disregard those who disrespect you. They likely have their own stuff going on.

-Ashley E. Remer
Head Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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