By Kathy Cloninger
WeNews guest author
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Selling Girl Scouts cookies is more than a fundraiser; it shows women how to become strong leaders, says Kathy Cloninger in this excerpt from her new book "Tough Cookies: Leadership Lessons from 100 Years of the Girl Scouts."
If we are to inspire girls toward leadership, we need to help girls change the way they see their own potential. Girls are growing up in a society that belittles their skills, their intelligence and their abilities by telling them over and over that the only things about them that really matter to anybody are their looks and their sexuality.
The top 25 TV shows for kids ages 12 to 17 regularly depict teen girls as highly sexualized and objectified. In these shows, 98 percent of the sexual incidents involving underage females take place outside any kind of committed relationship. Three in four incidents are presented as being funny (not to the girls; to the other characters and to the audience). And in these shows, 93 percent of the sexual incidents that involve young females are unhealthy, according to the American Psychological Association's definitions of healthy sexuality.
So what? Why should we care?
We should care because the message this stuff sends, regardless of how you feel about teen sexuality, is that girls are to be seen as sex objects first. If that's how we're teaching teenage girls to see themselves, it's no wonder they seek confidence in how they look and how desirable they are, above all else.
"Today's girls view being sexy as the ultimate accolade," says Carol Platt Liebau, political analyst, commentator and author of "Prude: How the Sex- Obsessed Culture Damages Girls (and America, Too!)" (Center Street, 2009). As a result, girls too often think the only way they can receive admiration is through promiscuity and sexual aggression.
What about admiring girls for expanding their horizons, growing in self-awareness, setting goals, using their intelligence or taking on projects that help others? We don't see much encouragement for those values coming from our society's center, or its top or its grassroots.
And if girls don't absorb those values as adolescents, it's going to be difficult for them to model those values when they become adults and parents.
Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc., www.wiley.com , from "Tough Cookies: Leadership Lessons from 100 Years of the Girl Scouts" by Kathy Cloninger, CEO Girl Scouts of the United States of America (c) 2011 Girl Scouts of the USA.
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Kathy Cloninger is the CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA and a Women's eNews 21 Leader 2010. She serves on boards of the National Human Services Assembly of the National Council for Research on Women, American Humanics, and Leadership 18. She was named an NPT Power and Influence Top 50 by the NonProfit Times in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Buy the book, " Tough Cookies: Leadership Lessons from 100 Years of the Girl Scouts":
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