Girls, and Female Family Workers

From a discussion at the East Coast USA and Canada Leaders’ Workshop in Warwick, New York, USA, December 2014

Diane Balser[1]: The worldwide oppression of girl children hugely affects their lives, as well as the lives of boys and adult females and males. Key issues are abortion and infanticide, the sexualization and sexual exploitation of girls, illiteracy, and poverty. There is a worldwide preference for boy children, which results in the invalidation and mistreatment of girls.

Family work[2] is set up to contradict young people’s oppression. It also contradicts the powerlessness, passivity, and patterned girl activity of young females.

We still have a lot to learn to make it possible for young girls and boys to fight effectively against sexism and male domination. Girls need to hear the women in their lives talking about sexism, including girls’ struggles with sexism.

Other women at the workshop answered the question, What are the strengths and struggles of family work as related to sexism and male domination?

The following thoughts are from the women family workers of the global majority:

• At a family workshop, African-heritage women led a group for the African-heritage girls. • I’d like to be able to talk about sexism, along with talking about racism. • I’m seeing that RC is ours, and I’m enjoying it. • The meanness among girls gets to me.[3] • It’s challenging to keep girls’ liberation at the fore. • It’s hard for me to talk to the girls about sexism and male domination. • I get worried about the boys and how hard it is for them to hold on to the discharge process. • We haven’t been doing enough work with women leaders on these issues. • I’ve figured out how to get girls discharging on the beautification industry.
• It’s easy to not pay attention to being female. • I tend to put all my focus on racism; I need to put more attention on sexism. • I notice where girls don’t want to use their bodies and I try to interrupt this. • It scares me when boys take up space and get aggressive.

These thoughts are from the white women family workers:

• We push active play and view less active play as part of sexism. • It doesn’t work to get the boys to slow down; rather, we need to get the girls to be “bigger.” • How do I talk about sexism with three-year-olds? • We have been wrestling with the moms to get them to be more active with their daughters. • Our own internalized sexism lets us “forget” to talk about the sexism experienced by girls. • I help the girls have each other. • I don’t know how to interrupt boys’ sexism without being harsh. • We coach the moms to really listen to the girls rather than aim for big sessions. • I need to work on being a visible leader. • I stay close to the one girl in my class and don’t worry about her being “big.” • I much prefer to play with boys and have to look at that. • Boys are not pushed to play the valuable girl games. • I talk to boys about girls’ struggles. • We are creating a space for girls to have opinions.

Submitted by Caryn Davis
Staten Island, New York, USA

[1] Diane Balser is the International Liberation Reference Person for Women
[2] “Family work” is the application of Re-evaluation Counseling to the particular situations of young people, and families with young children. It entails young people and adults (both parents and allies) interacting in ways that allow the young people to show and be themselves and not be dominated by the adults.
[3] “Gets to me” means upsets me.


Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00