We teach females that in relationships, compromise is what women do. We raise girls to see each other as competitors, not for jobs or for accomplishments— which I think can be a good thing— but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. If we have sons, we don’t mind knowing about our sons’ girlfriends, but our daughters boyfriends? ‘God forbid!’ But of course when the time is right, we expect those girls to bring back the perfect man to be their husband. We police girls, we praise girls for virginity, but we don’t praise boys for virginity. And it’s always made me wonder how exactly this is supposed to work out because *laughs* the loss of virginity is usually a process that involves *laughs*…
We teach girls shame. ‘Close your legs!’ ‘Cover yourself!’ We make them feel as though by being born female, they are already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up—and this is the worst thing we do to girls—they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an artform.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, TedxEuston (x)