February 3, 2009 posted by admin We asked advocates and scholars working on issues affecting girls’ lives to address the national conversation on girl’s needs, desires, and rights. What would they like to see changed? Below is the first response in this week’s forum: Health is not just the absence of disease or risk. It is the ability to live in a healthy body, with a healthy mind and spirit. Girls need more than the elimination of risks and dangers in their lives, environments, schools, neighborhoods, homes. They need the encouragement and information that can enable them to live in the positive. Most government funded research focuses on what, how and sometimes why negative practices, forces, impacts can be eradicated. How about some effort, energy and resources getting behind what works for diverse girls? What girls need to enhance their resilience not just to minimize their risks?
For me, the saturation of the media, a mirror of our society, with the depiction of girls and young women as sex objects ("sexual objectification") is one of those serious and seemingly entrenched "problems" that we just have to teach girls to live with. But that's not enough. And that will not enhance their resilience. Sexual objectification is like a sneak attack--always threatening to happen, taking its toll in indirect as well as direct ways. The APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls and Women documented this effect. The concern of Americans is reflected in its being the #1 most downloaded report on the APA website--over 1,000,000 times. And I and many other women, men and girls themselves believe that if we have enough people with enough will, with enough alternatives and enough courage to take on this insidious and all-pervasive take down of girls (and women, and for that matter, boys and men, too), we CAN change our society's tolerance and embrace of this dehumanizing practice. And that is just the top of my wish list for how to enhance the resilience of girls and young women. --Deborah Tolman, Professor of Social Welfare, Hunter College School of Social Work and The Graduate Center, City University of New York This post is part of a forum. LINKS: GIRLS FORUM: Navigating Girlhood to Womanhood from New Moon’s Nancy Gruver  GIRLS FORUM: Twelve-year Old Calls for Better Educational Opportunities for Girls  GIRLS FORUM: Dear Arne Duncan—Not Everyone Learns the Same Way!  GIRLS FORUM: Young Obama Campaign Worker Wants Equal Opportunities to Pursue Her Dreams  GIRLS FORUM: With New President, Young Girl Sees Chance for the End of Racism  GIRLS FORUM: Discrimination Can Happen “Anywhere, Anytime, to Anyone”  GIRLS FORUM: See Dad  GIRLS FORUM: Lyn Mikel Brown Counters the “Mean Girl” Onslaught with Strength-Based Programs  GIRLS FORUM: Allison Kimmich Advises Obama to Connect Policy to Parenting  GIRLS FORUM: R-E-S-P-E-C-T  GIRLS FORUM: Kathy Cloninger–Developing Girls of Courage, Confidence, and Character  GIRLS FORUM: Round-Up