In order to break this cycle, I believe that we adults need to give our children and especially young girls the correct language with which to speak about their bodies. This is critical! Learning to use appropriate language empowers girls and women to have more confidence and reduce shame around their bodies and in particular their sexual selves.
Even worse than not using appropriate language is the lack of recognition of "girl parts" to begin with. Think about the ways in which little children often learn about their genitalia. A little girl says to her mommy, pointing to her brother's penis, "Mommy, what is that?" She responds, "A penis." Then the little girl says, "So he has a penis and I don't?" Mommy responds, "Correct." This is all too often a true and detrimental scenario for a number of reasons. Perhaps most detrimental is that the young girl just learned the concept of "lack." Her brother (boys and men) have something (seemingly special and powerful) and she does not. Her brother then learns that he has something that his sister does not and that makes him "better than." This concept is something that these children will then carry with them throughout their lives. Additionally, adults do not recognize children as having a sexual self, though from birth they are, in fact, sexual creatures. A lack of communication about what children are already experiencing is providing a disservice shrouded in mystery and shame. There's No Place Like Home and Birds + Bees + Kids are two of the many great resources for parents about their children's sexual education.
Help us break the cycle of discrimination and violence against girls and women by raising a new generation of children who, through language and meaning, learn to respect one another! Have thoughts? Post a comment or email us.