Girl is a piece that is poignant in how it points out sexism in a girl’s day-to-day life. It can be inferred, that the story is a dialogue between a girl and her mother or some kind of female mentor. It is striking how casually sexist ideals are taught to young girls as simple rules of the world. It begins by outlining basic routines and tasks that are expected to be completed of a girl and slowly the lessons include more and more mature forms of sexism. “this is how to sew a button; […] this is how to hem a dress […] and so to prevent yourself from looking like [a] slut.” Throughout the piece there is a constant repetition of “the slut you are so bent on becoming” which speaks to a greater issue in society where a woman’s sexuality is seen as inherently sinful.
There are prominent examples of sexism that are taught to the girl in the story such as, “this is how to bully a man; this is how a man bullies you” and even dark examples like, “this is how to make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child.” However, I find that the most telling examples throughout the story are the ones that bring up the microaggressions against women. “Don’t eat fruits on the street-flies will follow you,” “this is how you smile,” “this is how to behave in the presence of men who you don’t know very well,” and “you are not a boy.” these are some of the lessons that stood out the most. “Don’t eat fruits on the street-flies will follow you” is telling a girl to stop doing something so that something else she has no control over does not happen, a girl can’t control if the flies do or do not follow her, but she must stop eating fruit in an effort to stop them, she shouldn’t tempt the flies or attract them. This relates to rape culture and goes back to how women’s sexuality is seen as sinful, how women dress or how they act can imply that “they are looking for something” or that “they wanted to be raped in the first place.” The mentor in the story is teaching the girl this, and though the mentor is incorrect in following this logic, it comes from a place of wanting to protect, “this is how you prevent a tragedy in our current culture” might have been a better title for the lessons. The teachings even come down to things as minimal as how to smile, women’s actions aren’t just policed through their sexuality but their behavior as well. A women must behave a certain way in order to be perceived as a certain kind of woman, her thoughts and words are out the door if her mannerisms don’t reflect it. The mentor’s lessons are all given an effort to protect and “this is how to behave in the presence of men who you don’t know very well” implies this heavily. Men are seen as people to be feared and are immediately unworthy of trust, women must behave a certain way so as to avoid the wrath of a man whose mind and ways of acting are still unknown, a woman’s behavior is a preventive course of action. The ultimate lesson taught in the story is the reminder that the girl learning all this is not a boy. It seems quite obvious, like there is no need in pointing it out, but this single fact is the reason this story exists in the first place. “You are not a boy” and therefore are not allowed to act as you are, this is the difference between people who are required to live by guidelines and those who are not.