Last night, while I relaxed in bed watching television next to a smart woman, a dumb body spray commercial came on.
It’s inanity, gross generalizations, and contempt of positive aspects of both sexes, male and female, reiterated everything I needed to do as the father of three daughters to arm them against a misguided society.
Smart is sexy. Intelligence is cool. Intellectualism is beast, yo.
It’s easy to have assumed that when technology took over the past twenty-five years, we’d be past the idea that what’s on the outside doesn’t matter as much as what’s on the inside. But according to Psychology Today, there’s “Trouble With Bright Girls” http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-science-success/201101/the-trouble-bright-girls.
This is what we should be concerned with, concerning that article, for the sake of the one you’re reading, now:
“Researchers have uncovered the reason for this difference (between how boys view intelligence different from girls) in how difficulty is interpreted, and it is simply this: more often than not, bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.”
I’ve found through my own four bright girls, my wife and three daughters, this theory is true. My crew tends to think they’re smart by nature, their God-given talents, but there’s a ceiling for it all. I reject this. I think they’re smarter than they think they are. But it’s troubling, especially with my daughters, because socially, they fall into bad habits for the sake of getting along with their friends and acquaintances.
My teenage daughter’s social media interactions are worrisome. It’s as if she dumbs herself down to fit in. She aces tests in school, dazzles her teachers with intellect, then gets on Twitter and makes Kim Kardashian seem reasoned. And teenage boys try to take advantage of this. *shudder*
My younger girls, aged 9 and 10 are similar. They kick all of the needed ass at school with their studies then come home and turn into potted plants. When I or their mother press them about reading books, gaining knowledge or talking about their accomplishments, they shrink in the bright light of conversation and turn up Taylor Swift songs. No one can defeat the Swifty. Or can they?
I’ve noticed my daughters and some of their smart girlfriends tend to doubt themselves more than their cockier male counterparts. Machismo is one of the dumbest traits known to man or woman but it seems to dominate the social constructs of everyone involved. If girls like guys with confidence, it must be because that confidence turns their brains off.
What’s really going on here? Is Psychology Today buying into to what right wing sexists have been saying about feminism for decades? Surely not, right?
You can’t change human behavior overnight. It takes generations of parenting by smart people to ween girls off of their precarious perches of impossibility. Fear makes everyone do things they regret later. Maybe what Psychology Today and me, the father of three smart girls, are trying to conclude is that unless girls, who later become women, are conditioned to believe in their intelligence against societal pressure that’s always behind the times, then bright girls can become brilliant women like former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Andrea Merkel, the leader of Germany. Imagine how the world could be different if girls aspired to be them, and not whatever’s twerking on MTV?