A Smart Girl’s Manifesto – Let’s Get Thinking

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:

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.

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!

Perhaps they don’t realize what a Nobel Peace Prize means (essentially that you have made a contribution to society which has impacted the whole of humanity). Also did you know there is a monetary prize of upwards of one-million dollars attached to becoming a Nobel laureate? But alas, this is what our society has become: one which teaches young girls that beauty, above all else, is to be acquired, slaved over and never let go. Pardon my Français, but that is bulls**t. You, young lady, are a sea of knowledge waiting to be explored, your potential is truly unlimited and the second you believe your beauty is more valuable than your mind, they’ve won.

So what can we do? How can we combat the disease that is preying upon our young girls? How do we change the status quo of millennia of male rule? Do we overthrow the “kings”, burning our bras and our mascara on our way up the ladder of success? Must we give up our desire to be pretty and cute in order to be game changers of a modern era? No. You make the rules of your own success. There is nothing inherently wrong with wearing nice clothes, loving nail art or a little celebrity gossip every now and then. However, when these things comprise 99% of who you are, well then, “Houston, we have a problem”. In order to make our way to the top and shed society of its constant surprise at our being able to accomplish anything, we must first ensure we are women of great substance.

Do you know what’s going on in the world? Could you participate in a discussion about Syria, Mali, climate change, nuclear warfare, global poverty, sex trafficking or even what is going on in your local neighborhood? I bet you could have an entire conversation about Lindsay Lohan’s future or Ryan Gosling’s latest meme, I know I could, and again I’m not saying these things are inherently evil. But if you can’t speak on the former, than you certainly shouldn’t know anything about the latter. So get going girl, there is a world out there to conquer, waiting for someone like you to be the catalyst of change. I believe in you, I know you can do it! So in the name of womankind, and for the sake of all mankind, get smart and get going!

Below are some resources you can use to start the smart. Good luck!

  • Coursera– free online classes from the best universities around the world
  • TED– talks from the world’s brightest on every issue under the sun
  • BBC– a leading news source in world news which provides a basic background and answer to FAQs on virtually any major world issue
  • The New York Times– do you need an explanation? Start reading.
  • Smart Girls At The Party– Amy Poehler’s new YouTube channel helping young girls to change the world
  • Flipboard– a handy app that congregates your news sources from around the web, easily allowing you to read through the day’s headlines in just a few minutes

Featured image via Saturday Night Live