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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday Festival: The Value of Girls

Today's post leads to an extensive discussion in the comments at Reflectionary. Join in the conversation at Martha's place, won't you?

I’ve been writing vignettes about my past, and there are more to come, as I try to reach a deeper understanding of myself and how I got to be the age I am without figuring out sooner that I’m not straight  (in case, gentle reader, you hadn’t caught on to that part, on which there is more to come.) I thought I was pretty much the last girl raised with the post-Victorian genteel Southern attitudes I like to blame for my late epiphany, but I’m discovering that women considerably younger than I am and raised in very different social settings internalized the same ideas about how their value derived from the attention of men.
My friend,Lia, said it would be good to have a discussion about it, in longer phrases than the 140 character limit allowed by Twitter, so here we are.

Living the dream: yours truly as a bride, dancing with her father, 10/8/83.

Some questions to get us started:
  • What was your socio-economic and geographic setting when you were growing up?
  • What were the expectations for you?
  • Who told you what value and success might look like for a woman?
  • Was that success wrapped up in attention from men?
  • Were there definitions of what kind of attention was appropriate?
  • Was there cognitive dissonance? (In other words, did you hear one thing and see another?)
  • Was there an a-ha moment suggesting there was something wrong with the whole social construction?
  • And since I’m reading “The Purity Myth,” did virginity form part of the definition of your value?
  • And how about marriage?
  • Do your past and/or current understandings of sexual orientation (yours and others) form part of the subtext of this conversation?
  • What’s your basis for valuing yourself now?
I look forward to your thoughts and stories and hope you’ll share them here.

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