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The Reality of Girlhood to Womanhood

Below lies a look into the objectifying, sexist, and unconsciously patronizing phrases young girls experience as they grow into a woman.

Image by Jenny Holzer.

To those who are outraged by the phrase “It shouldn't be: protect your daughter, it should be: educate your son.” Please take the time to read these phrases, and maybe you’ll find a way to empathize. These are just a few of the rules we take into consideration on the daily.

Age 5

“He’s only being mean to you because he likes you.”

This teaches girls from a very young age to confuse bad behavior with feelings and affection toward them.

So the next time you wanna say “nice guys finish last” or “girls just don’t want a nice guy” Blame the people that created the narrative of boys being mean to you = they have a crush on you. And stop instilling that phrase into young, impressionable minds.

Age 10

“Ignore him, he’ll stop bothering you if you just be the bigger person.”

This teaches girls to normalize and ignore behavior that makes them feel uncomfortable or irritated instead of speaking out.

Age 13

“Girls aren’t allowed to wear shorts above the knee or tank tops to school because it’s distracting for male students and faculty.”

Cue the fear of wearing certain clothes around specific groups of people by placing the responsibility of unwanted attention and sexual harassment described as a “wardrobe choice” on middle school aged girls.

Maybe stop sexualizing minors and teach boys that Sally’s prepubescent boobs aren’t going to help them learn about Putnam squares. Eyes on the board.

Age 16

“Never go to the bathroom alone.”

Once we reach an age when we’re allowed to roam free with our friends and attend things like concerts or the movies, we’re always reminded to bring a friend into the bathroom with us. Just in case someone follows you in there, you’ll out number them, maybe.

As you may know it, the buddy system, and we take it seriously.

Age 18

“Always leave with who you came with.”

This was drilled into my head growing up but more so when I left for college. My mom, along with her friends never forgot to remind me of the safety precautions needed to smoothly and safely navigate my social life in college. If you came with your friends, leave with your friends.

Age 21

“Make sure to keep your hand over your drink so no one can spike it with anything.”

My dad taught me this one, along with media portrayals of college parties and bar life and frat boys. Make sure you don’t get roofied!

Age 23

“Share your location with me before you go.”

You’ve heard your friends tell you this before walking out of the door to meet that guy you met on Hinge. Share your location with friends, choose a very public location to meet your date, drive yourself there, keep an eye on your drink, maybe have some pepper spray on hand. Take every precaution necessary to protect yourself.

Age 25

“Never take the same route home from work.”

Always switch up what roads you take. Highway, back roads. Just in case someone is stalking you, you don’t want to make it easier for them by leading them from your place of work, right to your front door.


Every woman you know has taken a longer route, made a fake phone call, held her keys in between her fingers. Every woman you know has rounded a corner and ran, has walked home scared or double-backed on herself. Every single woman.

So please, don’t tell us we’re being dramatic, or paranoid.

I’m tired, we’re all tired. I don’t want to be constantly fearing for my life on the regular and I’d like to trust the men in my life to do the right thing without question.


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