Recently I read (yet another) thread on Facebook that went like this:
Main post: “Teenage boys are so hard.”
Comments in thread: “You should be glad you don’t have GIRLS.”
At least you don’t have GIRLS. OMG TEENAGE GIRLS.
They are THE WORST.
Insane, emotional, slutty little things. Mean. Irrational.
I’m paraphrasing, but you know the story.
Get your shotgun out. Lock em up. But goddamnit why are they so ANNOYING?
I have a daughter. She’s 13. I don’t see it. I don’t see the horrible. I don’t think I ever will. Tell me I will. Tell me she’ll be “the worst” in a few years.
What would happen if we dropped the storyline that teenaged girls are “the worst” and just let them fucking BE?
Well, since we’re on the topic, American teenage girls, I would like to provide a few guidelines for keeping yourself safe and navigating these awkward teenage years:
Do not wear revealing clothing like short shorts or leggings because boys just can’t control their hormones at this age and your skin makes them want to rape you. Yes, this is your problem. This could get complicated because you may have sexual feelings too and maybe WANT to show a little skin and explore the sensual side of your existence – OR MAYBE IT’S JUST A HOT DAY AND YOU ARE ACTUALLY PHYSICALLY HOT – but this makes you a slut.
so don’t do that. nobody likes a slut.
Yes, that’s right: What’s unavoidable in boys is equally unavoidable in girls but in boys it’s expected (and possibly celebrated as a sign of virile heterosexuality) but in you it’s just dirty and shameful and your virile dad will need to protect you with a shotgun from virile boys whose parents dressed them in onesies at 6-months-of age that read: “Lock your daughters up.”
Now’s the time, daddy.
Lock.Your.Daughters.Up with those wild breasts and vaginas JUST OUT THERE FOR THE TAKING.
On to the topic of friends: Don’t be a “mean girl.” When boys have problems with their friends they are humans having problems with friends, or “assholes” or bullies, but when you do it there’s a special classification called “mean girl” because we need to make sure we establish early on that you are catty, simple-minded, and trite.
Newsflash “mean girl” is not actually a thing.
Assholes come in all genders.
Speaking of assholes, hormones rage in male and female teenagers, resulting in mood swings, tears, uncontrollable emotions and rage, but when you do it it’s a result of your vagina and uterus and menstruation and ohbytheway you’ll carry that with you your whole life. The irrationality. The emotionally unstable. When men cry we either deem them “pussies” or laud their gorgeous sensitivity. (Oh yes we’re screwing them too but that’s a different blog post.)
Have you dropped out of math yet?
Good. Stick with literature. Our emotional brains function better in those tender humanities.
Anyway, in short, teenage girls, this is why people hate you and why you read Facebook threads of grown-ass adults lamenting your existence and claiming you are WORSE than “boys:” Because you’re crazy and mean and irrational and emotional and slutty and your potential to get pregnant and evoke the (obviously unavoidable) rape drive in boys makes you a liability to yourself and your family.
Welcome to femaleness. Welcome to womanhood.
Welcome to the motherfucking jungle.
Oh shit wait! I forgot. How to not get your throat cut by strangers (this is from an actual list of helpful citizens on Facebook who commented on the occasion of a woman getting her throat cut by a stranger on the street):
- do not get out of the car at night
- learn self defense
- always carry pepper spray
- do not know bad people
- don’t be a prostitute
- do not go into bad areas of town
- don’t walk alone ever on a street ever.
(Why are they virtually unconcerned about the human who MURDERED another HUMAN? Well shoot your guess is as good as mine.)
WELCOME TO WOMANHOOD NOW DON’T GET OUT OF YOUR CAR LEST SOMEBODY SLICES YOUR THROAT AND YOU GET BLAMED.
Lemmetellyousomething my girl:
I don’t see this and I never will. Oh okaaaaay I see difficulty and I see pain and I see emotions and I see the hormones and the silliness woven with grown-up-ness and I see myself.
I see your father.
I see a child. I see a woman-child. I see a woman-child becoming woman. I see emotional turmoil. I see upset. I see rage. I see building moats in the sand and looking for seashells and painted nails and pedicures and long lean muscular legs and new curves and unruly curls on rainy days.
I see perfection.brokenness.gaping faults.attitude.
I see the difficulty of any kid that ever lived. I see all the boys and girls.
I see helpful. lazy. I see easier than my 4-year-old. independence. separation. wit and sarcasm and naiveté.
I see myself.
I was a teenage girl. I didn’t know the world hated me. Maybe because there wasn’t social media.
I see exploration. I see changing. I see life. I see a couple text messages to boys and a few discussions about this one and that one and I see you learning navigating working to understand other humans, life, sex, bodies, school, futures, loveheartangerragepainhystericalLaughingFriendsSiblingsFamilyandTomorrow.
(and you drive me nuts BECAUSE ALL KIDS ARE FUCKING ANNOYING.)
Heyyyy daughter, I don’t hate you. I don’t think you’re slutty or evil or mean. I expect you to be irrational and emotional just like I am sometimes, and your dad is sometimes, and your brother and every other person ever.
I want to lock you up, but not because of your gender.
I want to hide you away from the idiots. I want to hide you away so you never think you are the worst. So you aren’t ashamed. So you aren’t embarrassed. So you don’t gaslight YOURSELF when you’re emotional and unstable and irrational in your room away from the family for a few moments telling yourself “Well here I am just another faulty female fulfilling those prophesies all over the internet.”
And I don’t want you to not see that you are growing up in a clusterfuck of rape culture victim blaming female-body shaming (all hail the thigh gap) – WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN – and it isn’t you at all at all at all. It’s us. Them. Them. Them.
We plunk you down in an insane world then belittle diminish fault and blame you as you struggle to find your place in an insane world.
You are me. You are him. You are her.
You are not the worst.
You are the motherfucking best.
Ours, at least.
If you read it, all that nonsense, don’t believe it.
Believe this. Believe it to the end, and I’ll see you on the other side, kid.
My dear friend Sarah Maren and I are teaching a writing & photography intensive workshop in Sacramento next month and it’s going to change lives. Well, maybe not. But it will be fun, and you will become a better writer and photographer.
8 spots left.
GET ON IT LET’S HANG OUT DAMNIT.
(also, how cute and innocent do I look in this drawing?!)