By: Danielle Spitz, Guest Blogger November 27, 2015
Image via shutterstock.com
Once a week I join 20 of my classmates to discuss all of the wonders of being a teenager in a class entitled “Choices and Challenges.” For the past few weeks, an attorney and part-time police officer has come to my class to teach us about sticky situations that one could possibly end up in and to give us tips on the best way to get out of those situations. The goal is for us to learn how to always make sure we are in a safe environment, and if we aren’t, what we should do to change that.
He has a specific way of teaching by incorporating hypothetical scenarios into his lectures to paint a clear picture for the students--using fake names to make fun of the obnoxious kid at a party or the irresponsible 16-year-old behind the wheel. In all of these theoretical situations, the kid making the mistakes was a boy, and the person in danger of getting hurt or getting into trouble was a girl.
As teenagers, it is in our DNA to make mistakes. High school is a transitional period, both emotionally and physically, and it is impossible to avoid all of the bumps on the road to improvement.
If girls are told from a young age that it is not okay to make mistakes, it is wired in their brains that risks should not be taken and progress should not be made.
How are women supposed to meet men at the top if we aren’t allowed to make the same mistakes on the way up?
Boys are encouraged to make mistakes while girls are expected to get it right the first time. In these stories, the girls were also made out to be damsels in distress that required protection at all times. While it is the sad truth that girls have to be more careful in certain situation than boys do, it is wrong to only teach girls to constantly be on the lookout and not instruct boys on what they shouldn’t be doing to make girls uncomfortable.
The speaker jokingly gave an example of a boy leading an intoxicated girl into a private room, prompting some chuckles from the boys in the class. The girls began to furrow their brows in confusion about what part of the story was so funny, and the speaker continued by advising us to separate the couple, no matter how happy the boy looked.
The subtleties of double standards in his lecture were never-ending and began to seem so expected that I eventually blocked them out. I shouldn’t have to block out advice from an educated attorney and policeman, and I was frustrated that I felt there wasn’t much for me to learn even though he was supposed to serve as a helpful resource. If the message of equality doesn’t start to resonate with everyone, girls will continue to block out the white noise of ignorance as others laugh at what seem to be harmless jokes.
What do you think of the double-standard that Danielle points out? What can we do to change this way of thinking? Tell us about it below.
High school student Danielle Spitz is an aspiring journalist. She writes for her school newspaper and of course IATG! She loves reading, writing, running, binge watching anything on Netflix, shopping, and contributing to a world in which women build each other up and receive the respect they deserve.
Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.