Common words used to reference women in the black community include ho, hood rat, buss down, thot, and the ever prevailing b—-. Although those who use these terms may argue that they don’t apply to all women (like their mothers or their grandmothers), using these words, nonetheless, desensitizes all who come in contact with the derogatory terms. This desensitization causes men, women, and children to feel so unmoved by the insulting adjectives that they sing songs peppered with the words and dance to music with those phrases pervading the lyrics.
Whether your daughters are vocalizing the aforementioned phrases or just listening to them blaring from car stereos on the street, their self-esteem slowly erodes as they hear others tell them they should give their bodies for money or bend over for the excitement of men.
Now, more than ever, young ladies in our communities need affirmation instead of degradation. They deserve quality communication that will build them up instead of demeaning messages that tear them down. Below are a few ways that you can help your daughter, niece, or any young girl you know view themselves as ladies of value, ladies that carry themselves in ways that makes others value them, too.
Do a song study
Although there are many songs on the radio that glorify women’s appearance and sex appeal, there are also songs that uphold women’s intelligence and power. Challenge your daughter to find these songs. A quick Google search of “empowering songs for women” may reveal a list of songs that your daughter has never before heard. Once your daughter has come up with ten to twenty songs, have her create an electronic album of “girl power” songs, or have her copy some of the most motivating lyrics from the songs to hang on her bedroom walls.
Research women of value
Show your child that women can be defined by so much more than the amount of sex they offer. Have your daughter research notable women in business, science, social work, politics, or any other field in which a woman’s intellect is utilized more than her sexuality. Women like First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Mae C. Jemison are just two of the many women that your children can find by exploring materials at the library or via the web. After gathering information on the chosen women, have your child identify the ways in which these notable women gained and gave respect. Then, encourage your daughter to utilize these strategies in their own life.
Interview a woman of value
Have your child brainstorm a list of admirable character traits like respect, honesty, spirituality, and courage. Then, together with your child, identify a female in your community who possesses one or more of the brainstormed traits and ask the woman for an interview. If she agrees, value her time by treating her to a cup of coffee or tea. Have your daughter type a list of questions to ask before the interview, so that the time is well utilized. Such questions may include, where did you attend school, how did you become interested in your career, and/or what is the biggest challenge you overcame? During the interview, your child will be able to learn particular skills that one woman utilized in order to become a wonderful mother, professional, or friend and perhaps value these skills while doing so.
Respond to narrow portrayals of women
Give girls an opportunity to fight back with their words against entertainers who objectify women. Young girls have already done things like write letters and create raps to and against artists who devalue females. Have your young one do the same. Encourage her to write her feelings about music that devalues women in a poem or song. For a great example, check out the rap song from Watoto from the Nile, entitled “Letter to Lil Wayne,” on YouTube and listen to two preteens give their opinion about Mr. Wayne through his own music genre.
Whether you are a mother or father or the parent of a son or daughter, be an advocate for girls and women in our community and remember that your words can either decrease or increase their value. Use the activities above to raise young women’s self-esteem and share these activities with young men so that they may value women, too.