Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Girl Power

I found this article this morning. The title alone, "For Fraught Preteen Years, A Class on Being A Friend. Notice how the title is not gender specific, yet when you read the byline, it informs you it's a counselor working with girls only. I can certainly understand why, since, as Amy Dunne admits, girls can be mean.

Dunne works mainly with 5th Grade girls, helping them to discuss relationship angst and to work out their feelings of rejection by other girls instead of remaining, well, angsty. Many of the girls she works with have graduated from her "Chicks and Cliques" class, which the principal of the previous elementary school she worked for now requires as part of the curriculum.

While I can certainly understand its premise, the fact that it is only directed at girls is somewhat limiting. Could you imagine the difference a class like this could make in the lives of boys? Sure boys do more direct bullying and are more likely to confront their problem, but they're also the ones doing the gay-baiting or trying to show with every breath how masculine they are.

It does state in the article, in only one sentence, that Dunne's program was so successful, she created one for boys. Perhaps if the article would have provided a more balanced view of both programs I wouldn't be so skeptical.

Ah, but that's letting the program off easy. In some instances, what happens if a girl decides to present herself as more masculine and Dunne's approach doesn't work? Isn't limiting girls to pink and purple paper or suggestions of eating popcorn or taking a bath as a way to deal with rejection helping to confine young women to the role of femininity?

I think more information is needed in order to make up my mind completely. Who knows, if something like this really does work, and can also help break down gender barriers, it might be worth doing something similar in schools here.