She came home from school and asked to talk privately. Usually this means something difficult went down at school and she needs to talk it out.
She said she was in art and she was drawing a Picasso-style dog. She was working across from a boy we’ll call Joseph. She pulled back to look at how her drawing was coming and said, “Ugh, this is terrible.”
Joseph said, “What do you mean? You always think everything you do is so awesome.”
Rachel said, “What? What do you mean?”
Joseph said, “Yeah, you’re always like, ‘I’m so awesome,’ when you do something well. All the boys say so.”
Rachel said, “So? If I’m awesome at something, there’s nothing wrong with saying I’m awesome at it.”
He apparently gave her a look like this was extraordinarily distasteful and she left the conversation feeling really bad. She said she felt embarrassed.
After a good spell of listening, keeping my outrage in check, I said, “Rachel, for YEARS people have told girls that they can’t say they’re good at something. They can’t say they’re awesome. Let me ask you: Do the boys say they’re awesome at stuff? ”
“Yeah, like all the time,” she said.
“Do people tell them not to say it?”
“There you go. There should be no difference for a girl who says she’s awesome. If you do something well, it’s okay to be proud. Don’t boast, but you already know not to boast. For ages girls have been told to say, ‘Oh, I’m no good at this’ or ‘You are so much better than me.’ You don’t have to do that. If you’re good at something, be proud of yourself. Own it. And don’t EVER let some stupid boy tell you you’re not allowed to say you’re a badass, talented person.” Her eyes widened when I said the word ass. “So the next time some kid tells you you shouldn’t say you’re awesome? Tell him to keep his lame opinion to himself.”
Her smirk turned into a smile.
First feminist lesson: done.