Monday, December 1, 2008

Where Have All The Smart Girls Gone?

I love smart women. I really, really do. I have surrounded myself with them in my social circle, I have been known to pursue friendships based on my desire for the influence of another woman's intelligence, and I truly value a smart girl with a bright mind and a quick wit.

So, here's what I would love to know: When did it become socially acceptable (or even desirable) to be a woman who is not smart?

I had lunch with an old friend last week who took every opportunity to degrade herself and her intelligence. This is a girl who has pursued a professional career, post-graduate work, and established a life of independence, based on her intelligence. Somehow, she believed she was more approachable, more desirable, and perhaps even more lovable if she marked herself as less intelligent than the average girl.

(As I have been known to do in a very tactful, diplomatic way, I called her out on it. It's bunk. She's a smart girl... why pretend otherwise??)

Just today, I learned of a very smart friend of mine who was recently ridiculed in a circle of women. They teased her for having a master's degree, being an eloquent writer, and even using 'big words.' She left the Girls' Night feeling degraded and minimized, all because she is a smart woman.

And how is it possible that pop culture is filled with smart women who want to appear stupid? They are clearly bright enough to market themselves with a slant one way or the other, so why not capitalize on their intelligence? I can list less than five 'smart women' in today's entertainment world... where have all the smart girls gone?

I am the last to say that one needs credentials, degrees, or titles to prove that she is smart... I have very few of those, myself. I have high aspirations for all of them, but I'm a smart girl without the initials after my name. And I know it. And you'll never hear me say otherwise.

My mom is a brilliant, wise, confident woman. She is no less feminine because she can keep up with any man, and my dad loves her for it. In our home, there was no excuse for pretending to be something I was not... I could not claim inadequacy when we all knew I could do it. (Except in sports. Everyone knew I couldn't.) I have held strong to the value I have learned since I was small: Know who you are, be confident in what you can do, and never say you can't. Because you can. Don't let anyone put you in a corner because you're a girl. Know your stuff, and do it right.

I don't have a daughter, but if I ever do, I suspect this may be our greatest challenge in raising her in a culture that minimizes women; I will give my everything to teach her to value everything about herself, especially her intelligence.

Come on, smart girls. Don't let me down.


Alli said...

I love hearing your thoughts. Thanks for writing them down.

my3boys said...

I have no problem pointing out my dorkiness when it is appropriate-- but that doesn't mean I'm not proud of being smart. I have a friend that sort of makes fun of me for using "big words" (which, incidentally, I don't really think I do...unless, of course, you think "incidentally" is a big word), but I would never stoop to be something I'm not around her. At any rate, I totally agree with you because smart girls think alike!

Kennedy Krew said...

Amen sista!!! I was just talking to my students yesterday about all the possibilities there are for those who use their minds. Now, I was talking to both genders...but still!! And let me just say - my Kensey bear will be the first to tell you she is smarter than everyone we're working on humility!! LOL!!!