The Mumsnet blog subject of the week is Things Girls Should Know. It's a really difficult topic, and when I go back to when I was a teenage girl I was taught a lot of things I didn't need to know, and honestly not very much of what I did, though, admittedly, if I had opened my eyes I could have learned from those around me.
Rather than rant on about what my childhood lessons in being a woman were, I think it would be better to think about what I would like to teach my daughters or, at least, what I would like them to know. Being in France, I might have a job on my hands.
I'm going to assume that my daughters will leave home knowing how to cook, budget, drive and generally look after themselves. Not because they are girls, but because everyone should be able to leave home without having to ring mum to find out how to cook rice. Yes, that was me.
1) The red flags to look out for in a relationship. Those signs which show a potentially frightening imbalance in a relationship with a partner, and which you can spot from a mile off when it comes to watching a friend get into a dodgy relationship, but which are less obvious when you are blinded by the feeling of falling in love. I wasted a good eight years of my life in relationships with prize twats. I was cheated on, treated like scum, and felt unable to escape. Of course my daughters will go out with unsuitable boys, or girls, but I hope they don't reach their 30s and regret most of their 20s.
2) Which brings me nicely on to my next point. My daughters need to learn to love and respect themselves, so that they have the confidence to walk away from a situation which makes them unhappy. I don't blame anyone for my crippling shyness and lack of self confidence in growing up, but if there is anything I can do to help teach my girls self respect, self confidence, the ability to stand up and say no, I deserve better, and be true to themselves, then I will be a happy mum.
3) It is not their fault if they are the unfortunate victim of assault or worse. It wasn't about how much they drank, or what they wore, or anything they did wrong. They were just unfortunate enough to run into a bad person. This is going to be a particularly difficult thing to teach in France, where even men I consider to be relatively normal and respectful of women freely talk about women being dressed as whores. It's vile, and I don't know anyone who has dared voice that opinion more than once in my presence. At least, not since I dumped the awful ex.
4) Not looking like women in magazines and tabloids is fine. In fact, quite possibly a blessing.
5) That a good education is important. That with a good education and a good career they can be truly independent, and will always have something to fall back on. Unless the governments completely destroy the economy in the next twenty years.
6) I really really want my daughters to have a good work ethic. To understand that working hard will reap reward, but that they should find their niche, so that they are rewarded both financially and take personal satisfaction from their job. There is nothing more soul destroying than getting up in the morning to go to a job that we hate, day in, day out. But go to work one must, so they should strive to find something that suits them. Back to point 5.
7) Never never never trust anyone with a camera to film or photograph them undressed, or having sex, even if they tell them everyone else is doing it. Remember that the internet is there forever, and that other people, men or women, don't always respect someone's privacy. And that there are some very nasty people out there. Along the same lines, if they do get drunk they should not allow themselves to be photographed looking drunk. Drunk pictures on Facebook are only funny to the people who were there. To everyone else they're just stupid.
8) Sexism in society, everyday sexism, is still going strong. Hard lesson to learn, but learn it we women must. There are a surprising number of men, and an even more surprising number of women, who distrust women, and disprespect women, just because they are women. It's a very sad fact of life.