Because I am a girl I ask…why I’m so concerned by how I look. I don’t believe it’s because of my gender, which means it’s due to outside forces – cultural and societal pressures that combine to make aesthetic one of the last great hurdles for modern women. I ask this every time I book an appointment with my hairdresser, or paint my nails, or read a women’s magazine.
Because I am a girl I believe… in true love. I grew up on a diet of Disney princesses, even if they were strongly diluted by Star Wars marathons and the teachings of CS Lewis, and the moral of those tales – that one day, my prince will come – has never quite been quashed, no matter how hard I try.
Because I am a girl I hope… for better – for the young girls I see playing in my street and the young boys I see playing with them. I hope they will grow up respecting one another as human beings, not just as mothers or daughters or girlfriends or wives.
Because I am a girl I wonder… how people can remain so oblivious to the stark inequalities present in both the developed and the developing world when it comes to the treatment of women. At home, women earn less and work more; abroad, women are mutilated, demeaned, degraded, assaulted . . . I wonder how people can think feminism unnecessary.
Because I am a girl I dream… of a world where parents sit their sons down and tell them how to treat women at the same rate as and with the same fervour with which they sit their daughters down and tell them not to take lifts from strange men.
Because I am a girl I remember…saying no – and I remember how little it mattered to a man who took it as a yes.
Because I am a girl I like… chipper chips with salt and vinegar, dancing to loud music in my bare feet and listening to the rain outside while I lie in bed. (Then again, I may well like those things because they are nice, regardless of gender.)
Because I am a girl I dislike… patriarchy – although not, crucially, men. I dislike a society that tells women that they are less because of anatomy; I dislike a society that makes jokes of rape and sexualises its female athletes; I dislike a society where a woman’s value is, above all else, in her sexuality.
Because I am a girl I feel… sympathy for men who are not encouraged to explore and express their emotions in the same way girls are.
Because I am a girl I celebrate… women – both successful and unsuccessful, young and old, rich and poor, clever and stupid, bully and victim. We all have something to give.