Girls feel empowered, except when it comes to being judged on how they look. Girls have been told they can be anything they want to be, and it shows.
They are seizing opportunities closed to previous generations – in science, math, sports and leadership. But they are also getting another message: What they look like matters more than any of that.
When it comes to their bodies, girls do not feel equal. About three-quarters of girls 14 to 19 feel judged as a sexual object or unsafe as a girl. By far, they feel Society consideres physical attractiveness to be the most important female trait – a view that adult women share. Girls were also more likely than boys to feel a lot of pressure to put others’ feelings before their own.
Girls feel pressure to look attractive online and the risk of predators on social media. 81% of girls 14 to 19 say they have at least one friend who has been asked by a boy for a sexy or naked photo.
‘You should be confident and do well in school and do athletics, but you are supposed to also be a good sex object at the same time.’
Boys seem to have been largely left out of the conversation about gender equality. Even as girls’ options have opened up, boys’ lives are still constricted by traditional gender norms.
Boys feel they have to be strong, athletic and stoic. Strength and toughness were the male character traits most valued by Society.
Society expects boys to be aggressive or be quiet and suck it up when they feel angry. When they feel sad or scared, boys feel pressure to hide those feelings or to be tough and strong instead.
Girls are more able to express themselves by crying, screaming or talking about their feelings. 82% of boys have been criticized for acting like a girl.