This is a great story so before I start with a trademark rant, let me just say how fantastic it is that a 12-year-old girl recognized the sexism at work and said something.
In Russell Township, Ohio, there was a parade. Parades happen in a lot of small towns so this is nothing to be surprised about. Taking part in the parade were the local girl and boy scout troops. Also not much of a surprise. It gets the kids out of the house and engaging in physical activity. I’m all for it.
As they walked by, the parade announcer said the boy scouts were the “future leaders of America.” OK, I guess. Seems kind of presumptuous but OK.
Then the girls walked by and the announcer said they were just there to have fun.
In reference to the Cyndi Lauper song which, though catchy and awesome, sends something of a poor message when it comes to the ambitions of young women.
Julianne Spyer was walking with the Girl Scouts that day and was none to pleased to learn that the boys were future leaders of America and the girls just wanted to have some fun. She wrote a letter to the editor and it went viral.
Everyone is super proud of Julianne for calling out the sexism displayed but I have to wonder – what now? Do you think that we are suddenly going to start doing better because of a 12-year-old in Ohio? Or are we so busy patting the kid on the head that we are going to stop there?
I also wonder, if this letter had been written by someone who was not a twelve year old, would it have gotten any attention at all? Would anyone else have noticed the subtle sexism that the announcer probably didn’t even think about?
I don’t wish to belittle what Julianne did one bit. She noticed something wrong and she spoke up. Her actions end up being irrelevant unless the next local parade announcer doesn’t make the same mistake. Or gets called out when they do.
Let’s celebrate Julianne because she is an awesome little girl and one of the future leaders of America. Even better, let’s celebrate her by actually listening to her message.