Don’t Call Us Girls

The best way to discuss a phenomenon is to start with a little memory recall.

memory-main

  • What Cyndi Lauper song refers to people having fun?
  • The mid-’80’s hit ‘ Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ .
  • What is the name of the highly popular yet highly controversial T.V. show by Lena Dunham?
  • Girls on HBO.

See a pattern there?

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Cyndi Lauper twirling in the music video

Dig Deeper:  When Lauper sings ‘Oh girls, they wanna have fun’ she is referring to a community that she belongs to and is thumbing her nose in the face of the stodgy patriarchy. She is referring to her friends and herself as ‘girls’ but it is evident she is talking about young women who want to ‘walk in the sun’ and refuse to be shut down/shut away or diminished in any other way by conventions and societal mores.

Time for those who are NOT women to stop calling women ‘girls’. This type of language is problematic and should be avoided at all costs. Using ‘girls’ instead of women reinforces traditional sex roles and erases their adulthood as a consequence. 

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By calling grown adults ‘girls’, you are essentially robbing them of their personhood. Their agency and their impact, their careers, their decisions, their feelings  as adults are all trivialised by the consistent labelling and use of such language.

Treating someone like a child is infantalization, and  it can be applied in several different ways, and often for different reasons. A solid example would have to be the way Lucy, the main character in the I Love Lucky t.v. show, is often talked down to and even spanked by her husband, Ricky, for laughs.

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Ponytails in Popular Culture: Depicting Women as Girls

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Popular culture does not miss an opportunity to depict women as inexperienced and naive. This peculiar social pressure on women to appear youthful extends to even makeup trends, where eyeliner is applied to mimic the larger eyeballs of young children.

Women are told, repeatedly, that they must act submissive, and uncertain to appear desirable. Men maintain their status and power in this flawed projection of gendered traits; being womanly, however, is equated to childhood and complete vulnerability. 

Overwhelmingly, the attempt is to show women without power or maturity.  Observe photo shoots in leading fashion magazines and the postures and expressions render the models pictured as powerless yet sexually available .

Women in ads are made to pose in ways that resemble children – with blank stares, knees bent, and hands place in or around the mouth. Men, however, are shown standing up straight and tall, completely in control – much like an adult.

The Bratz Phenomenon

Rampant Sexualization of Young Girls

We have, not one, but two disturbing phenomenon at work here. The  infantilisation of women is accompanied by the trend of sexualizing young girls for commercial purposes. Advertisers increasingly market clothes, makeup, t.v. shows and even toys that promote the sexualization of girls (meaning actual children). Let’s not forget the extremely disturbing beauty pageants industry catering exclusively to little girls.

In the article titled “Behind the Cultural Imperative for Women to be Sexy and Cute,” Wade explains that:

“The sexualization of girls and the infantilization of adult women are two sides of the same coin. They both tell us that we should find youth, inexperience, and naivete sexy in women, but not in men. This reinforces a power and status difference between men and women, where vulnerability, weakness, and dependency and their opposites are gendered traits: desirable in one sex but not the other.”

There you have it! Portraying women as childlike and pushing sexualized fashion and music on girlhood- are part of the same disturbing societal problem. 

Is there a solution? In fact, there is more than one way to correct these prevailing trends. We will explore those in the next few blogs.

For starters, let’s stop calling women ‘girls’.

-Mariam Shoaib 

Why Are You Scared of LinkedIn? (Real Life Scenarios)

I recently heard of a young man who is facing a tough time finding a new job, while in a role that was about to end.  Shahzad is currently working at one of the leading hotels in the country in the Marketing department. He holds a North American undergraduate degree in Marketing and about 4.5 years of work experience, to-date.  Here is where the challenge is: Shahzad recently got married and is looking for a position with significantly more responsibilities as he wants to diversify his work experience and a higher salary package. Since moving back Pakistan after completing his studies, Faisal admits he hasn’t networked much professionally.

” I just jumped at the first offer that I received. Seeing that I had only a 3 months internship experience, I was relieved to find my place in an established organisation so early on in my career.”  That’s Shahzad speaking, by the way.

He shares that he has not had much luck while looking for a new position.  I asked what his strategy is.  Shahzad says that he has been spreading the word amongst his friends and family members that he is actively searching for a new job. Also, he says that he religiously scans the classifieds section in Dawn and other major national newspapers every Sunday morning.

“And…?”  I ask.

“That’s about it. I have been at it for months now and frankly, I’m getting worried.  I recently got a call from HR for my exit interview. ” responds Shahzad.

It was clear that Shahzad had skipped a few crucial steps in his job search, so I sent over some recommended sites. Using online job boards and social platforms, including even Facebook and Twitter, are no longer optional for jobseekers. You need to be online.

“I see.  Can you do me a favour? Set up your profile on the following websites.  Begin with LinkedIn and then move on to Rozee.pk. If you are interested in working in the Middle East, I would suggest signing up on Bayt.com as well.”

“LinkedIn? Why LinkedIn? A few of my friends have sent me invites. I just never got the point of it. ”  answers Shahzad.

“Easy. LinkedIn is currently the best social platform to network with professionals from all over globe.  Think of it as your virtual Resume that is open to recruiters and  HR managers actively searching for new employees.”  I respond eagerly.

Why are You Afraid of LinkedIn?

For those who are unfamiliar with LinkedIn, logging on for the very first time CAN be an intimidating experience.  I have found that if you approach such sites with a positive attitude, it is easier to see the benefits of an untraditional job search approach.

Afraid of Linked In

LinkedIn puts you in the driver’s seat of your job search. You are no longer passively waiting for someone to pluck your resume out of the hundreds (even thousands!) received in an HR Manager’s inbox.  You are opening up a window to allow potential employers and recruiters to see your career ambitions and accomplishments in an interactive environment.

Why is Shahzad scared of LinkedIn?

A few days later, I gave Shahzad a call to check on his progress.  “How’s it going?”

” Still not sure about LinkedIn, it is so busy!  There are company pages popping up all the time and then I was asked to list my volunteering experience. How will all of that help me get a job in Marketing?!” inquires a clearly frustrated Shahzad.

” Hold up! Take it one step at a time.  Let’s go over the facts:

Did you know that 92% of Fortune 1000 companies are LinkedIn customers? Your profile needs to be on LinkedIn so the chances of being recruited increases. Not only that, being on LinkedIn gives you a chance to do a targeted search for the type of role you are looking for.

Add on friends and colleagues on LinkedIn – it is a great way to practice your professional networking skills. If someone from your industry writes an insightful blog on Pulse, leave a comment or share on your profile. It is pretty similar to Facebook in that way!

During your job search, you must have come across a company or two that you aren’t too familiar with? LinkedIn’s Company pages provide you the background information and allows you to browse the list current employees. All of this information can you help you determine the culture of an unfamiliar organisation before you apply.

As for volunteering experience, that shows more about your personality and the causes that you believe in.  Talent hunters are looking for the right person to fit the work culture at their organisation – that means they need a complete a 3-dimensional view of who you are!  Ever spend time tutoring at a local orphanage? Or  go door-to-door raising money for a Build-a-School campaign?  Stuff like that counts!.”

“Hmmm. That makes sense.  For  starters, how do I add you on LinkedIn?” asks  Shahzad.

“Scroll over to the Connections tab in the top bar and click on Add Connections.  Choose an email account to sync with and you are good to go! You will see all your contacts who are already on LinkedIn. ” I answer.

Stay tuned for the next instalment, where we will compare and contrast using LinkedIn and Rozee.pk during a job search.

Oh, also  we will get an update from our friend Shahzad!

Good luck to all of you on the Job Hunt!

Ambitiously Yours,

Catalyst Woman

If you have a question for Catalyst Woman, email me here:  talktocatalystwoman@gmail.com .  I will try to answer it on here a.s.a.p.!