You can tell a girl she’s smart her whole life, encourage her in school, buy her a chemistry set, send her to math camp, help her apply for college scholarships in STEM fields, and she’s still eventually going to walk into a classroom, a lab, or a job interview and have some man dismiss her existence, deny her funding, pass her over for a promotion, or take credit for her work. How about you work on getting those assholes out of power and quit telling me not to call girls pretty.
Wait, wait. Are those two things - working to get those assholes out of power, and not calling girls pretty - mutually exclusive now? Because the way I see it, they’re very closely linked.
If you tell a girl she’s smart and encourage her and build her self-confidence (which, by the way, does not revolve around maths and science alone, but that’s another topic) and make sure that she never feels second place just because she’s a girl and put the focus on her abilities and character rather than her looks, here’s what’ll happen.
When a man belittles her, she will laugh at him and belittle him right back. When a man tries to hurt her she will not try to placate him or get evasive because she’s been drilled to be “ladylike”, she will hurt him right back. When a man denies her funding or passes her over for a promotion, she will know that it’s because he’s a misogynistic asshole and it won’t make her question her own worth, because she’s been assured of her own worth her whole life. She will work harder, look for alternatives, and fight until she gets what she wants. She will prove them wrong and she will be one of the people who gets “those assholes” out of power.
(If you’re wondering how I know this, it’s because that’s how I was raised and that’s what I do.)
You don’t just get someone out of power. You’ve got to fight and then replace them. Who’s going to do that? People, women, with self-confidence who don’t put up with crap because they know they deserve better. Where exactly are these women supposed to come from if we keep telling little girls how pretty they are as if that’s the main point of a little girl’s existence?
It’s not an either-or-situation. That’s like saying “how about you work on getting those climate-destroying assholes out of power and stop telling me to recycle”. I mean what exactly is wrong with taking some amount of responsibility for the things you yourself can change?