Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where do all the brave girls go?

Last week I attempted rock climbing. Since I live in one of the flattest states in the Union, this was done indoors at a local health club. Heights are not my thing, so I scaled about 10 feet, looked down and rappelled down (okay, so I didn't exactly rappel down--I kind of, er--plopped). I tried once more -- up, maybe 11 feet this time, then kick, flump, plop! Anyway, once on solid ground, I unhooked myself and decided to watch the other climbers show me how it's done. Out of the 7 others, 3 were girls, aged 10, 8 and 6. You should have seen them! Little Spiderwomen they were! They climbed as high as they could, as quickly as they could, did not look down and then--once reaching the top--really rappelled down! (Though the six year old was a bit too light to let her weight do the work and was instead pulled down by her mother and big sister).

Their fearlessness reminded me of something that happened when I was a girl. My friend Jenny and I loved to swim in a local lake. About 50 yards offshore was a platform dive. I'm not sure how high it was; all I know is that one day we swam out there and found a group of teen boys standing atop, all daring each other to jump, but none of them budging. Jenny and I climbed up, walked past them all, and without hesitation, jumped right in! I didn't stand around and ponder how dangerous it could be for me or what might happen if I landed wrong, what injuries I could possibly sustain (though I later heard that my shore-bound mother surely did). I just jumped right in.

Like the girls on the climbing wall. They were brave. They didn't look down. They just started to climb and gave it all they had. I'm not sure why, but many women I know have outgrown this sense of fearlessness, and have to work hard to get it back. I hope the girls I met the other night and every other girl out there never loses theirs.

'Til next time!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rihanna and Everything After

Everyone's talking about Rihanna and Chris Brown these days. Is she okay? Are they still together? Even Oprah made a televised plea to her to end her relationship with him. Obviously, Mr. Brown needs help. Whether or not he learned this type of behavior during his own childhood, he needs to find a better way to control his anger. Many people on discussion boards and in the media cannot fathom why Rihanna might consider continuing a relationship with him. I hope she doesn't. If, heaven forbid, my daughter ever finds herself in a similar situation, I would do everything I could to help her and encourage her to leave the relationship once and for all. At least my daughter is growing up in a family where these things don't happen. Such behavior is not acceptable and should not be tolerated. I have a family friend who found herself in a similar situation. Her partner--while drunk--hit her after she said something that upset him. Fortunately, that incident made her partner wake up and realize he had a drinking problem. He got help, sobered up, and an outburst of that kind never happened again. That was many years ago and they are still together. Unfortunately, I believe a transformation of this kind is one of the rare results of abuse. What is a more likely scenario is that the abuse continues and gets worse, even jeopardizing the victim's life. Maybe Rihanna will stay with Chris, hoping that he might get help and change. Hopefully he will try and can. But I don't think Rihanna, or any woman anywhere, should wait around hoping for a miracle.

For more information about ending domestic violence, visit The Family Violence Prevention Fund. If you know someone being abused, they can call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit their web site at


For positive and inspiring clothes for girls and tweens, visit Gis4Girl!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thank you Matt Damon

And George Clooney. And Don Cheadle. And Brad & Angelina. And Christina Ricci. And Eve Ensler. And all other celebs who actually use their fame to help people. Matt Damon made headlines today while filming a movie in South Africa. He met with a refugee from Zimbabwe who described her harrowing story of being raped while pregnant as she tried to escape her troubled homeland. George Clooney met recently with President Obama to share his concerns about the situation in Darfur. Unfortunately, the horrific stories coming out of these regions often is not enough for people to take notice and do something to help those living in these dire situations. But stick a celebrity somewhere, and everyone wants to know what's going on. And history keeps repeating itself. Lessons learned from the Holocaust, Kosovo, Rwanda -- how many genocides need to occur before we intervene early in others in the making? Meanwhile, mothers, daughters, and sisters in these areas continue to suffer and live in fear. And here in the U.S., according to the organization RAINN, 1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. One in six! Every two minutes a woman is assaulted. As a mother, I know that I will never stop worrying about my daughter's safety. And to paraphrase Hillary Clinton, my daughter will not be safe until everyone's daughters are safe.

To learn more about how to help women in Africa, the US and all over the world, visit the following organizations: Not On Our Watch, Save Darfur, and RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network).