To begin with, I think in many ways that girls in grade school on up are more aggressive and earlier than girls in past generations. There are many reasons for this change, and in this blog I will focus on a few.
Title IX is partly to blame. The court ruling opened the door for girls to have greater involvement in more sports and at younger ages. In previous generations, the pinnacle of a girl’s athleticism was often being a cheerleader. The 70’s and 80’s first saw women dabbling in aerobics classes in their cute, specialized outfits, but young girls started entering soccer and basketball and other traditional ‘boy’ sports at the same ages as their male counterparts, and things quickly shifted. Watch 7 year olds playing soccer today, and you will immediately notice that girls are just as or more aggressive than boys, and their skill levels are higher too. Women today are found in kickboxing classes and at early morning boot camps slugging it out with the guys. That’s a huge shift from the 1950’s and 1960’s. And more women are joining the armed forces too, and they want to go into battle, not work in an office.
Look at what type of woman’s body is idealized today vs. previous generations. In the 1950’s, men drooled over soft, full-bodied women like Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield. The intense fitness craze that has gripped our country in the past 20 or so years has changed all that. Now the focus is on strength, toned muscles, and ‘hard bodies’. It’s not enough to have a flat stomach; you’ve got to have a six-pack and buns of steel devoid of any signs of cellulite. And it’s definitely not enough to have a good figure, you’ve got to have a ‘perfect body’. This unrealistic standard makes girls more insecure, compare themselves too much with peers and media images, and feel like they have to compete for boys in an endless ‘beauty contest’ every day at school. This competition breeds more aggression.
I am certainly not saying that girls shouldn’t be playing sports or working out, nor judging whatever their pursuits may be. What I have noticed though is a new imbalance between the female and male energies of girls and women. The pendulum seems to have swung way in the direction of girls exhibiting more of what has typically been described as Archetypical male energy: competitive, ambitious, willing to step on anyone to get to the top, focus on individual achievement. The more typical archetypical female qualities like: collaboration, nurturing, compassionate, service, and sacrifice seem to get judged as being less important or, even worse, beneath women. The women’s movement started the pendulum swinging because of the many real ways in which women were being short-changed in the work force, education, and having a voice at home and in the world at large. And like many social changes, sometimes you have to overstretch the coat hanger in one direction for it to eventually come back to a more balanced middle ground.
I want young and older girls and women to live a life where all aspects of themselves are appreciated and in balance. It makes for a healthier woman. I think we need to guide girls to embrace more of their feminine sides today as a way to balance out the more aggressive tendencies they are displaying. It would make for less relationship dramas and less stressed out girls.