Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

The Girl Effect

As I mentioned, I’m in residence in a BC dorm (a perk and a perturbance) with a gaggle of highly motivated, incoming first-year students. One of the things that I forget about spending time with young people is the carelessness with which their everyday conversation reinforces stereotypes. Not all of these students, mind you, but a few.

Thoughts that cross my mind:

Is this a microcosm of other college students?

Of my adult contemporaries in general?

Typical conversation:

“Did you get his/her number?”

“He/she’s a player.”

Me: “How do you define a player?”

“She’s a ho. He gets around.”

I’m perturbed by this casual reference to women who may be sexual as “ho”, while the men are let off by a casual, less loaded “gets around.” Stuff we all know, of course, but still echoes in everyday conversation.

How might we empower women, instead of demean them? (This goes for all genders.) How can we move away from gender stereotypes outside the academic classroom? After all, if we’re only challenging our own prejudices and stereotypes when a teacher’s around, what good is a good education?

The Girl Effect appealed to me not only for its graphic design, but for its empowerment of young women and its social conscience. I’m leaving for Ghana in about a week, and acutely aware of the impact of simple gestures. I’m even more aware of the fact that I’ll be learning more than serving.

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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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