A platform for voices supporting women's rights
It has been long understood that young boys are encouraged to indulge in all the pleasures of youth with a firm pat on the back, while girls are restricted, cautioned and told the world is a different place for them. Whilst to a certain extent this caution on the side of parents over their daughters has some reason, this has rapidly accelerated to take on dangerous proportions with the advance of technology. Tracking on smartphones, checking internet history “women and girls… are generally watched more closely by their parents because of the ongoing terror that if they’re not kept tightly under control they will end up pregnant, unemployed, abused, or all three”, Ms. Penny states.
However, these parents are no longer classed as obsessive and over-bearing, it seems this parental behaviour is becoming a trend, a celebrity trend nonetheless. TV Chef, Gordon Ramsay, chortled on the Jonathan Ross show that he had put a camera in his daughter’s bedroom to make sure that her and her boyfriend were not up to anything untoward. Barbara Ellen defended his admission in The Guardian, also claiming that she installed a webcam in her daughter’s room to make sure she was doing homework when it was expected of her.
But surveillance to such a degree, denies these young women the experience of agency over their own body and decision-making that helps to form those critical steps into adulthood. Judgement calls, learning from mistakes, once bitten twice shy, all of these come from experiencing the many things that a young person is exposed to, building a catalogue of good and bad decisions to call upon in order to inform decision-making in our adult life. What these parents are doing is not just invasive, loaded with distrust and moral sticking points, in their eagerness to make sure their daughters do not come to any harm, they are critically disabling these women of the experience to know how to deal with future challenges.
Ms. Penny summarises the point fantastically: “Part of growing up is grasping for that unwatched place, testing the boundaries of irresponsibility, evading intimate surveillance in order to establish boundaries of our own. We cannot speak seriously of young women’s freedom if we never let them push at those boundaries. To live under constant surveillance is to learn submission, and young women know this more than most.”