You hear that phrase uttered by parents often – “be a good girl”. It was said to me, it’s been said to most women and girls I know. But, for some reason, those words stick in my throat and I cannot say them to my daughter.

I think it stems from my maternal roar. I have no innate desire for my daughter to “be a good girl”. 

Yes, I want her to have manners, behave with decorum in social settings and yes, I want her to grow up obeying the important rules of life like “be nice”; “look twice before you cross the road” and “share your toys”.

But, when I look at the world around us, one that she steps out into every day, I sure as hell don’t want her to be a “good girl”.

The notion that she should “be a good girl” implies that she must be submissive, and bend to the will of an authoritarian figure. That she should quiet her mouth and do as she is told to.

Sorry, folks, but the world we live in has shown me that authoritarian figures are, regularly enough to be concerning, the very ones that perpetrate abuse.

By wielding a level of power, whether it is physical, mental or circumstantial, an authoritarian figure can harm my daughter. Perhaps I have trust issues – and I can promise you that I have my reasons for them and I don’t need to tell you about them.

But if my daughter was ever in a position where an authoritarian figure did yield their power over her in an abusive manner, the very last thing I would want her to do is “be a good girl”. 

I’d want her to fight, I’d want to yell, scream, shout, destroy that power in any way she could. I’d want her to feel confident enough to ignore that demand to submit, and heckle it with all her might. I’d want her to stand up and shout.

Growing up, I can remember a few times when an authority figure in my life made me feel small, or tried to force me into a mental submission of sorts. And I’m grateful I had parents who empowered me to yell and flail around when I was made to feel a lesser person.

To them, for me to “be a good girl”, was to live for the good of all people. It did not mean to submit or tolerate any level of abuse.

But the more that systems and institutions in our society endorse “being a good girl”, the quieter the shouting voices become.

I want our nation of girl children to not be afraid to shout. I want them to rise up, kick their legs and claim their lives.

And I want them to do it loudly, unashamedly and fully aware that their claiming back of power is supported by a world that puts them first.

I can’t change the world though – if I could, you wouldn’t be reading this, for we’d all be on holiday in Bora Bora, eating sandwiches and creating sandcastles.

What I can do, though, is never expect or demand that my child “be a good girl”. And if anyone ever tells her to be, I want her to know that her “good” is something she and I define together, and that she should never be forced to submit to someone else’s idea of her “good”.

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