I discovered music when I was about nine. It was 1976 in London and I spent hours with a small yellow transistor radio stuck to my ear. I learned quickly that boys almost always had the right to rage. I was mesmerized by punk, and via the tinny sound of my radio, I fell in love with Siouxsie Sioux and her Banshees. But as powerfully as I responded to Siouxsie, and indeed to the fury and ferocity of punk more broadly, it was abundantly clear that most of the punks yelling in my ears were men. Where were the women?
What if we told girls to erupt!
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The novelist Ursula K. Le Guin died the day before a judge sentenced former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexual assault. During the trial, more than 150 women and girls came forward to accuse the doctor of abuse. In a 1986 commencement address she gave at Bryn Mawr College, Le Guin could have been speaking for every woman who read a victim impact statement at Nassar’s sentencing.
“We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains,” Le Guin said. “That's what I want — to hear you erupting.”
“You young Mount St. Helenses who don't know the power in you — I want to hear you,” Le Guin tells the all-female graduating class.
So what keeps girls from knowing the power in them?
Parents, friends and teachers decimate that power. From a very young age girls around the world are told that they are vulnerable and weak. By the age of 10, research shows they believe it. Conversely, boys are fed the stereotype that they are strong and independent. And indeed, the world is created by men and for men; this is what we mean when we talk about the patriarchy. Those findings are from a survey of 15 countries, including the United States, Belgium, China, Egypt, India, Kenya and Nigeria.