Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Triple Bind: pressure of girls

This month's issues of Psychology Today had a brief article asking the question whether girls have too much pressure placed on them these days. Today, MSNBC excerpted the book, The Triple Bind by Stephen Hinshaw, discussing the high expectations of girls in today's world.

According to the book,

At least one-fourth of all U.S. teenage girls are suffering from self-mutilation,eating disorders, significant depression, or serious consideration of suicide--or are perpetuating acts of violence.

Hinshaw also explains his term "triple bind:"
  1. Be good at all of the traditional girl stuff.
  2. Be good at most of the traditional guy stuff.
  3. Conform to a narrow, unrealistic set of standards that allows for no alternative.
I really don't doubt what he is saying, however, as I read through this excerpt, all I could really think sadly is "how is this really different from say ten, fifteen years ago?" I know I speak for myself here, but much of what he outlines, is what I felt. There was a need to excel at everything, both as preconditions which I placed on myself as well as my family and society too. Many considered me an "overachiever," although I never thought of myself that way. In retrospect, I undoubtedly was. There was a "specialness" if you want to call it that to be "superwoman" or "supergirl" as author Liz Funk says in her book Supergirls Speak Out in this article. Courtney Martin, author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters and Alexandra Robbins in her book The Overachievers also touch on this topic.

Then, on top of all this, the Boston Globe featured an article about an organization using girls as a way to curb violence among the male youth. The organization wants girls to realize the power they wield over their boyfriends's actions. Talk about creating more pressure for girls!

Now, the question is what do we do to help young girls balance their life and not feel so much pressure? It's important for girls to realize their potential and seek it, but not at the cost of self mutilation, eating disorders, depression, or suicide.


Cammy said...

I just want to put in a plug for Martin's book, it is incredibly insightful and really made me stop to think about many aspects of my life and future, it hit home with me in more ways than pretty much any other ED book I have read.

Gaining Back My Life said...

When we stop believing what we d, or accomplish, or become is never good enough, we can overcome this sad dilemma. However I think the world's view is bent towards being better, faster, stronger, smarter, and in that sense, one will never measure up.

There will always me someone smarter, someone thinner, someone more charming, than you.

But there will NEVER be another you. There never was, and there never will be.

Somehow we have to teach this to our children. And I think that happens in the context of love.

Kim said...

Very interesting post (as always). I've been thinking about the pressure on females a lot. I don't even have kids, but I do already feel the pressure to be the traditional woman (cook, clean, organize, etc) and the "modern" woman (WORK, earn money, be successful). Of course, being who I am, I feel like I have to fulfill these duties perfectly. In my opinion, men have it easier and easier. Women are expected to carry their weight (no pun intended) more and more in society, while men are still expected to fulfill the same role they did back in caveman days -- provider/protector. Of course, I'm generalizing all over the place. Anyway, I'll have to check out the book. Sounds interesting.

Kyla said...

sounds like a book I need to read! I agree that I definitely felt this kind of pressure growing up.

Tiptoe said...

Cammy, yes, Martin's book was insightful. That one quote still reminds me of me so much.

GBML, society is certainly bent on everything being better, faster, higher, smarter, etc. You're right that teaching kids to be who they are just as they are is important. Maybe one by one, this will happen and help with this crisis.

Kim, it's frustrating that we feel all this type of pressure on every front. I do think men have it easier in some ways, but at the same time, I think they have different issues too which affect them.

Kyla, let me know if you read the book. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Same for you Kim.

MelissaS said...

it was the same when i was a teenager 30 years ago.

i don't know how to help young girls, but i don't give up hope that there are ways.

i'd look to know how healthy women make it through? is it luck, genes, their parents?

does anyone know women (a woman) who's not skinny but has a healthy body image, good eating habits and no ED at all?

Tiptoe said...

I think one of the biggest things healthy women have is a sense of self.

As for other women who are healthy with no body image issues, I think they are out there, it's just finding them.

Anonymous said...

I heard Stephen Hinshaw on the radio discussing this book a while back. It is super interesting for anyone going through this social revolution. I came across a great song online that the band said is about this subject. It's called "Of Priests & Presidents" by Motive for Movement. It's a very powerful song about the struggles young, successful women go through.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that more people, more teenagers, need to know about this book, that they aren't alone in all of this. Being a teenager myself, I can exactly relate to most of the points that are in it. Reading it, I feel like I'm not insane, that it isn't just me. I'm not the only one putting on the "Its fine, just fine" facade, and not having a way to release stress without thinking "well, will this look good on my college application?"