A Smart Girl's Manifesto – Let's Get Thinking Ashley Perez

Alright ladies, it’s time for some big changes. Time for women to take our place in the world amongst the best and the brightest, because frankly, I’m tired of receiving magazine after magazine adorned with the faces of men, proclaiming them the new “30 Under 30″, “World’s Top Entrepreneurs” or “The Next President of the United States”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate men. I repeat: I do not hate men. One day when I’m a mother, I will be just as proud of my son’s accomplishments as my daughter’s. However, God help the person who tells me I should be proud of my (yet-to-be-conceived) daughter for accomplishing something simply because she is a woman.

This is half the problem, every time a woman does something, half of us throw a parade in her honor because she was the first woman to accomplish such a feat, while the other half criticizes her to bits because she has not accurately portrayed the life and struggles of every woman who has ever existed (e.g. the virtual stoning of Lena Dunham for seemingly anything and everything she does). Neither of these antiquated attitudes will propel us into the future.

Though the first is perhaps more tolerable, in a way it still holds women back. In labeling accomplished women separately from their male counterparts (e.g. the first female astronaut), we often imply that it is shocking a woman has accomplished such a thing. And while I understand the need to recognize pioneering women for chipping away at the elusive glass ceiling, at a certain point this system of counting and labeling women becomes detrimental. “Hillary Clinton is the 3rd female Secretary of State”. That’s great, but why are we still surprised at a woman being Secretary of State? If she’s the best person for the job, then why the hell shouldn’t she be?

Secondly and perhaps more detrimental to the cause of feminism, is the age old struggle of pitting women against one another. Most recently in the news, Jessica Chastain set the record straight concerning rumors that she “hates” Jennifer Lawrence, and went a step further by saying that pitting women against each other is detrimental and degrading to womankind as a whole:

“Please don’t allow the media to perpetuate the myth that women aren’t supportive of each other. Every time an actress is celebrated for her great work, I cheer. For the more brilliant their performance, the more the audience demands stories about women. With support and encouragement, we help to inspire this industry to create opportunities for women. And as we all know: a great year for women in film, is just a great year for film.”

After all, why is it that when George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon get together for a film the stories to emerge from the media are of their blossoming bromance, whilst apparently women working together couldn’t possibly get along as they’re too busy clawing each other’s eyes out over “who wore it best”.

This is what I mean. It’s time for a change, and the good news and bad news is the call for change rests upon each of our shoulders. That’s right, you are the one who is going to change things. How? By changing yourself. Now listen carefully, I don’t want you to think for a second that by “changing yourself” I mean buying a new outfit, whitening your teeth or styling your hair differently. I’m talking about the deep stuff, real change. I want you to change your mind, I want you to become the smartest, most fierce version of yourself (think Sasha Fierce, Beyoncé’s alter ego). I want you to walk around feeling fearless in the morning, not because you’ve perfected your eye make-up routine, but rather because you know you could go toe-to-toe with the best of them.

i-am-woman

Currently I am reading a book called Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World by Lisa Bloom (daughter of the famous attorney Gloria Alred) and honestly it’s rocking my world! Her basic thesis is this: us girls have to get our act together and become big thinkers before everything the women before us have strived for disappears under a barrage of gossip websites and fashion magazines. One of the most shocking statistics repeatedly quoted throughout the book is the fact that 25% of young American women would rather win America’s Next Top Model than a Nobel Peace Prize, A NOBEL PEACE PRIZE!

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  1. This is beyond awesome. I adored this article – and was shocked to learn about the 25% of women! THIS is what feminism should be about, not whether to shave your armpits or not. Great work, Ashley, I’m sharing this everywhere!

  2. This article is just so freaking good. Catches the “go women” without turning into some icky ‘feminism is good but feminists are weirdos’ type thing. Kudos. I will hold onto these thoughts for a long time to come.

  3. I love this article. I go to a women’s college, and while our accomplishments as women are lauded, it is also just a place where we can all be great and what we do, because no one distinguishes gender in every accomplishment when 90% of the student population is female. I enjoy that dynamic very much.

  4. Thank-you so much. I loved this article. You have expressed how I have always felt about how society treats and depicts women. Its okay to call yourself a feminist and still love men and things that are deemed “girly”, but kindness and intelligence are the most empowering traits a woman can have. ♥♥♥♥

  5. This is great! And so true. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read or seen something about the first woman to do this or the first African-American woman to do that (the separation of ethnicity/skin color bothers me almost as much as does gender). Physical appearance or ancient ideas of how certain groups of people should behave or what they can accomplish should not dictate what members of said groups feel they can accomplish. And no one should be as shocked as they usually are when a woman or person of color does accomplish something. I learned in my Human Growth and Development class recently that women actually tend to perform better than men in school, and women are more likely to complete their undergrad degree and continue on to get their graduate degree. I’m not saying that that makes us better in some way, but maybe that helps to show that women actually aren’t less smart than men like people still think.

  6. So true!!! I love the bit about half of us throwing her a parade and the other half of us criticizing the shit out of her. That is our nature isn’t it? As women, we all have differing points of view on the role of a woman, the nature of a woman and what is best for women everywhere. That makes it rather complicated to come together. The thing I think we need to realize as women, is that there are no boxes made for us to fit in, only the boxes we make for ourselves, outside of these boxes we are all (men and women) just people, and that is just as it should be. The first step is accepting ourselves the next others, as is! With that in our arsenal there are no limits to what we as people, and more specifically we as women can do.

  7. Really fantastic article! I’m in the computer art and animation field, and have very big dreams of working for Dreamworks or Pixar someday. This is a field dominated by men, if I get to break into it, I don’t plan on them pointing fingers because I’m a woman!

  8. such a wonderful article!
    how nice of you it is to point out in such an elegant way that we, women, can do almost everything yet sometimes knowledge is what we need. as well as the ability to use it right for our own good.
    i truly believe that women are smarter than they are as i’m sure that a woman stands behind every distinguished project!

  9. I love this. Love, love, love.

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