Teach young girls that they can say "No,"
to situations that make them uncomfortable.
Don't force them to hug someone they barely know
even if you know them well.
Teach young girls they can say "Yes,"
to situations that make them curious.
That they don't have to sacrifice their own happiness
for someone else.
Teach young girls that they can say "I'm sorry,"
but only when they actually mean it.
To assert themselves when they've been wronged
and to recognize when they were wrong.
Teach young girls to say "I'm worthy,"
no matter what path they choose in life.
Whether it's to be a doctor, an artist, a scientist, a wife
whatever it may be, let them decide.
Teach young girls to say "No."
And teach little boys to accept it.
Now, this isn't my most artistic poem but I still think it's important. I think all kids should be lifted up and not beaten down, but this poem is specifically about being a little girl. I know many young women who have trouble saying "no" or "yes" or they apologize too much or they feel they are worthless and a lot of stems from how they were raised. I've had friends who were taught to minimize their own thoughts, opinions, dreams etc for the benefit of others and it is such a widely accepted idea. The last line is to address one of the issues that keeps coming up. That's the issue of "'No' means 'No.'" Why do we continue to teach our boys to push a girl until her "no," becomes a "maybe" and then it becomes a "yes"? I've had the thought of "maybe if I say yes, he won't snap" many times when faced with a man who was a stranger to me. Do you know how terrifying that is? If a girl or woman says "no" then that's that. (And don't strawman me here, I mean this in reference to respecting someone's personal choice and autonomy) Obviously, this is one perspective and a bit on the heteronormative side and I'd like to hear other viewpoints. If you know of any other poems like this, can you point them my way?
Leave a comment below about what you think and if anyone decides to write a poem from a different perspective send it to me.