How to raise a girl in this messed up world?

Roma Kojima worries about raising her daughter in a world that constantly tells girls that they are less.

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Photo: iStockphoto

Roma Kojima is a soon-to-be mom of a tiny, wriggly girl. Aside from growing a human, she works in business development at Rogers Media, loves to travel and cook, and obsesses about leather purses she can’t afford. Follow along as she shares her pregnancy journey.

The other day we found out we’re having a girl. I was overjoyed and unsurprised. I somehow always knew I’d have a daughter someday, and when I got pregnant, I just knew it was going to be a girl. Even my Google doc of name ideas only had girl names on it.

Read more: The debate: Should parents find out their baby’s sex? > 

Now, I caveat this by saying only about two of my 10,000 friends that have kids have a daughter. Something must be in the water because save for those two living in India, there seems to be a plethora of sticky, yet adorable boys running around. So I have no idea what it’s really like with a girl on a day-to-day basis. Doesn’t matter, I suppose. I’ll find out for myself.

The other day it hit me. I’m having a girl. Not a girl — a daughter. A female of the species that will eventually have to go through pre-adolesence, teenagerhood, young adulthood, and then, hopefully, become a functioning adult. This thought shook me to the core at about 11:45 a.m. on a Wednesday.

A girl. In this world. A world which, a zombie apocalypse or militant llama uprising notwithstanding, likes to spend a lot of time trying to mess girls up. Having achieved elite status at this, it spends equal amounts of time messing grown women up. My brain made a squeaking noise and immediately tried to leak out through my ears.

What the holy hell am I going to do with this tiny human I’m going to suddenly be in charge of? How am I going to explain the mind-blowing effed-upedness that we just take for granted as ‘how things are’? How am I supposed to explain to her that just to catch the same breaks as an equally (or even slightly less) intelligent man, she’s going to have to be twice as smart, twice as tough, twice as confident and twice as driven?

I know this sounds pessimistic. But I’ll leave optimism and associated puppies and rainbows for another post. Today I’m terrified because some days I barely feel like I’m making it through in one piece. Some days, I barely even feel like more than a collection of motile body parts — specifically breasts and ass and whatever some a-hole on the street decides to leer at.

We live in this world where everything in the media — an industry I am actively a part of — constantly tells girls that they are somehow less. It tells men that it’s OK to treat women as if they are less. And it tells women to not only accept this utter BS, but actively take measures to apologize and make up for it.

Read more: Slut shaming: Why the term confuses me >

We are all victims and instigators of this falsehood. We buy into it at one level or another, and the messed up part is that we don’t even realize we’re doing it. The other day, I was reading an article on XOJane, a website I frequent. The story, about a woman getting Botox injections and loving the results was well written, and I found myself commenting about how Botox in moderation could do you just fine.

Then I thought to myself: What has to be broken in our collective brains that we, as adults and as a gender, are actively encouraging each other to inject botulism into our faces to be slightly more attractive to strangers? How can I say this to one person and then plan a lifetime of body-positive messages to my own child?

Today, I don’t have any answers. Today, I’m just nervous and have no idea how I’m going to do this. Maybe I’ll be better tomorrow.

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