On SCOTUS, Hobby Lobby, and those Dove commercials.

This is something I posted to my facebook page about four hours ago. I thought it might be worth sharing here as well.


I have a lot of thoughts on today’s Supreme Court decision, but let me hold off on that for just one second.

I want to talk to you about a class I taught today. It was, if I’m being honest, one of those assignments that teachers dole out when they don’t have anything better to do. I’ve been pushing them pretty hard with an intense curriculum, and this is a theatre summer camp, after all — I figured I’d throw them an easy day of coloring with crayons and pencils. I asked my students to draw a self-portrait (aka “their headshot”) and write a brief biography about their life (aka “their bio”) so that I could display them in the lobby before their parents come to see the short plays they created. Fun, right? A stupid, time-killing, summer camp assignment.

Most of the kids had a great time.
The teenage girls did not.

It was an almost instant chorus of “I can’t do this,” “Can we do something different?” “This is hard.” When I pressed them for a reason why, I got: “Because I don’t want to look at myself,” “Because I’m bad at this,” “Because I don’t know what to write,” “Because there’s nothing interesting about me to write down.”

Let’s be clear, these are some of the funniest, weirdest goofballs I’ve ever taught. These are smart girls who get straight A’s and who have excelled at everything I’ve ever asked them to do. They are, frankly, vastly more talented than I was at that age. And they come from the kinds of nice families that have the desire and money to send their kids to theatre camp. They know they are smart and funny and great. They know this. And yet they turned into these wilting, melting puddles when asked to talk about themselves, when asked to represent themselves on paper. And maybe it turns out that they don’t know that anymore.

It’s everything those fucking Dove ads and tampon commercials keep saying. It’s a really depressing fact, and I hate that it’s being used to sell me shampoo, but the fact is — girls hit puberty and the self-confidence heads down the toilet. And in the microcosm of my classroom today, I knew this to be true.

So what does this have to do with Hobby Lobby? Well. Maybe nothing. And maybe something. And I know this is just a small personal experience that I’m conflating with a much larger issue, and I know that there are more informed opinions than mine to be read and studied, but the thing is — it just feels like the message being loudly proclaimed is that women do not matter.

And I’m sorry, but I cry bullshit on all that. And I’m so exhausted from repeating it, but I will repeat it, again and again, to those girls, to myself, to everyone who needs to hear it, until I cannot anymore. That we matter. That we matter. That we matter.

23 thoughts on “On SCOTUS, Hobby Lobby, and those Dove commercials.

  1. Amen. Anyone who says that women’s portrayal in the media and how they’re perceived in society is totally fine and normal is an uneducated, ignorant misogamist with an agenda. Even as babies, girls are given dolls and dresses while boys are given trucks and army men. People give their sons and daughters gender specific toys before they even know the difference between boy and girl. It’s absurd. Little girls are “pretty” when they’re babies and toddlers. But as teenagers, they’re taught that they’re ugly and inferior because every model from a photo shoot is scaled down and painted with photoshop. As young adults, they’ve been given unrealistic standards of beauty, and as young children they’re treated like dainty little flowers rather than intelligent, strong minded, capable kids. Sooo…once they reach adulthood, they learn to believe they’re neither pretty nor smart, and it’s a travesty. But, I’m glad they have teachers like you to make an impact, one young lady at a time.

  2. Yes. Yes. Yes.

    I teach art at a small college. I see the same thing in my female students. And then I walk across our campus and notice things like not one building–out of 18–is named for a woman. Three were recently renamed for people, and all three were named after men “who made a significant contribution to education on our campus.” They couldn’t find a single woman of significance?

    The bullshit permeates every level of our society. Thank you for being one if the ones calling it.

  3. Yes. Yes. And yes.

    I teach at a small college. The board recently renamed three buildings after “people who are significant to education on our campus.” All three buildings were named for men, joining the 14 other buildings on campus also named for men.

    More than half our graduates are women, yet too many of them wrongly believe they have nothing of value to say.

    Bullshit indeed.

  4. Media and fashion industries moulding the notions of beauty is a tragedy of the modern times. The onus falls on teachers and parents to work harder to reinforce a sense of confidence amongst the emotionally vulnerable.

  5. Just FYI Hobby Lobby is providing 16 types of “birth control” there’s only a few that they refuse to pay for, the plan B pill being one of them.

    • The fact that they are picking and choosing makes it worse, and frankly puts their claim that it is because of their “Christian values” to the lie. None of them are actually “abortion” methods, even plan B, and that is not medically in question. I haven’t the faintest idea what their excuse for the IUD exemption is; frankly, I’m sure they didn’t try to exclude traditional birth control pills because the more widespread knowledge of their use for medical reasons other than contraception would likely tip the balance against them. (Not that the banned methods don’t also have non-contraceptive medical uses.)

      I really don’t see Jesus being down with punishing women because of birth control failures (condoms break, yo) or rape. Nor in denying woman the health care benefits they have earned.

  6. Even sadder perhaps is that the lack of confidence, self esteem and self awareness continues into adulthood.
    When I first launched my website Amazing Women Rock in 2008, I wanted to profile amazing women I knew. None wanted to be profiled. None believed themselves to be amazing.
    “Oh no not me,” Heather saide, “I’m not amazing, But Sally is, Sally’s incredible.”
    So I went to Sally and said “I’d like to feature you on my website.”
    And Sally said: “Oh no. Not me. I’m not amazing. But Jane, now Jane has done some truly incredible things…” And so it went on and on and on.
    Now there are thousands of sites dedicated to women and there stories. Still, the problem persists! It’s a continuing struggle.
    Besides http://amazingwomenrock.com/, I also run http://shequotes.com/. These not-for-profit sites as well as dozens of blog posts over the years are my contributions to making change.
    Step into your own amazingness and blow your own horn. Leading by example is one of the most powerful ways forward.

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  8. I am forever grateful to my mother for letting me grow up a complete tomboy and helping me accept my body and myself (I was the only girl and refused to wear dresses :-)). I was shy, but I was never really self conscious of my body (which was larger than the average teen). My grandmother was very critical and my Mum has struggled with her weight her whole life. My Mum has never, ever talked to me about my weight or appearance, except to say that I’m looking particularly good. I’m now in my mid-30s, anything but shy, with a good body that I’m proud of (it does all the activities I love, except running, haha). I wear skirts and dresses all the time now 😉 Thanks Mum, you are amazing.

  9. When a women’s worth is dependent on her brain more then her body; when we finally make as much as men for the same jobs; when a women can talk about sex and pleasure openly without being shamed; and control of our bodies is a universal right, perhaps then we can begin to simmer down. Until then, keep singing it out. Women matter, we matter.

  10. “It was an almost instant chorus of “I can’t do this,” “Can we do something different?” “This is hard.” When I pressed them for a reason why, I got: “Because I don’t want to look at myself,” “Because I’m bad at this,” “Because I don’t know what to write,” “Because there’s nothing interesting about me to write down.””

    As a father of a wonderful little girl, this breaks my heart. How can I stop this from happening to her?

  11. Reblogged this on The Emporium of Lost Thoughts and commented:
    “It was an almost instant chorus of “I can’t do this,” “Can we do something different?” “This is hard.” When I pressed them for a reason why, I got: “Because I don’t want to look at myself,” “Because I’m bad at this,” “Because I don’t know what to write,” “Because there’s nothing interesting about me to write down.””

    As a father of a little girl, this breaks my heart. How do I prevent this from happening to her?

    • Never let her doubt herself. Tell her she’s beautiful. But not only that tell her she’s smart and talented. Funny and caring. And everything else that she is 🙂 Never let her forget any of it.

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