Let me tell you a story I am sure some of you will relate to. A memory from when I was six years old that has stuck. I’m 33 now and can still see this playing in my head.
So there we were in gym class, my classmates and I. It was free play time, so we were allowed to do whatever we wanted to. Most girls were playing quieter things hanging out in the corners of the gym, while the boys took out most of the space for playing football. There was a long rope hanging from the ceiling and some boys were climbing, swinging and climbing back down. I thought that was cool and wanted to try. The queue in front of me was long, so I had to wait in line for a good 10 minutes. 10 minutes is an eternity for a six year old, but I was so determined to try that I kept waiting. Meanwhile, a boy behind me was growing impatient. He started saying “Paz, you cannot climb, you are a girl. Why don’t you just go and give me your place in the line?”. He would not shut up about this, kept nagging and nagging saying I was a girl and girls are not strong enough to climb, climbing is just not for girls. In the meantime, I kept silent hoping he would stop and the whole thing would be over soon.
Please bear in mind we were SIX years old. I hope this guy´s persistence has taken him places…
Anyways. The boy in front of me climbed to the very top of the rope, swung for a bit and started climbing down. It was my turn! But at this point…I was terrified. I was convinced that I was not strong enough and that climbing was not for girls. I’m a stubborn Aries so I still tried , but I didn’t make it very far. I panicked, jumped down and let Mr. Persistance have is chance.
This was the first time I experienced someone telling me I could not do something because I was a girl. I don’t think it has happened this overtly obvious ever again and I don’t think this is unprocessed trauma, but I am sure some of my insecurities about my athletic skills started right there.
Why am I telling you this story? Because this is exactly the kind of thing I don’t want my children to experience. I want them to be able to say “no”. No, climbing is not just for boys. No, I won’t let you skip the line. No, I don’t want to have sex with you. I also want them to say “yes”: yes, I can do it. Yes, I will try. Yes , I am important and I matter.
This is one of the reasons Les Girls Collective started. So that our girls are constantly reminded that they matter. I believe that an empowered generation of girls will fight for a better world. It starts with us and what we instill in them, but they will for sure be the protagonists of this change. It´s coming, I know it is.