Greta Thunberg and her cohorts are ready to change the world and that scares a certain kind of man
The president of the United States openly mocked a teenage girl. After dismissing the 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg in person and earning her ire, he tweeted to his 65 million followers: She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!
Dismissive. Sarcastic. Mocking. Utterly typical. Is anyone surprised?
The Republican party has a teenage girl problem. And Thunberg knows whats up. On Monday, she gave an impassioned and emotional speech at the climate summit in New York.
You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, she said. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line.
Shes fierce. And shes not the only one.
Just last year, a 13-year old Canadian water activist named Autumn Peltier told the United Nations it was time to warrior up on World Water Day. Our water deserves to be treated as human with human rights. We need to acknowledge our waters with personhood so we can protect our waters, the Anishinaabe girl from Wikwemikoong First Nation told the diplomats gathered in New York City.
Greta Thunberg and Autumn Peltier will join the pantheon of teenage girls who changed everything. Girls like Anne Frank, a young teen when she wrote her diary. Or Joan of Arc, who led an army. Or Malala Yousafzai, who won the Nobel peace prize for her work securing education for girls in Pakistan and around the world at the age of 17.
Its no wonder men like Donald Trump are shaking in their boots. Because hell hath no fury like a teenage girl who is awake and aware and done with your bullshit. The fears of men like Trump have made mocking teenage girls a favorite American pastime.
We mock their trends. In the 1980s, it was the Valley Girls. Their big hair. The way they spoke. The way they pegged their jeans and chewed their gum. The accessories they carried. Today, newspapers and parenting magazines are full of hand wringing over VSCO girls, the modern day Valley Girl, most of whom are in their early teens and some even younger. All the things they enjoy Fjllrven backpacks, HydroFlasks, Birkenstocks, scrunchies. Its all fodder for their elders mocking. We dismiss their water bottles, their fashion choices, the words they use. We mock their selfies (narcissists!), their clothing (cheap and too much skin!), their makeup (too much in general! Be natural!).
What would happen if teenage girls were actually allowed to feel good about themselves? What if we allowed them to have their interests with no shame? They might rise up and change everything. And that scares a certain kind of man.
The Fox commentator Michael Knowles called Thunberg a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left.
Knowles issued an apology. But he wasnt the only one. The conservative pundit Dinesh DSouza compared Thunbergs image to ones used in Nazi propaganda. He posted a photo on Twitter of Thunberg, with her long braids, next to an illustration of a young woman with a similar hairstyle standing in front of a swastika flag.
As the mother of a teenage girl myself, I know how hard they are to manipulate. They are strong and smart and know themselves in ways big and small. They cant be forced by anyone not teachers or parents to say things they dont mean at a school assembly, let alone on world stage. Thunberg doesnt need anyone to push her. She pushes herself. Shes well-informed, brilliant, and unafraid to take on all the leaders in the world. Like so many other teenage girls. Like Anne Frank. Like Peltier. Like Joan of Arc.
Republicans are due a reckoning. Where do they really stand on 16-year-old girls? Are they children, manipulated by George Soros and their parents, when they are saying intelligent things? Or are they women? They certainly seem to be treated as women when its time to hang with the likes of the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein or former Alabama chief justice Roy Moore, who was accused of sexual misconduct by numerous women and girls and still had many Republican supporters.
Its no wonder so many Republicans are scared of teenage girls. If teenage girls can accomplish so much and live so powerfully even as they are mocked, condescended, demeaned and shamed, imagine what they could do if we just shut up and got the hell out of their way.