You can call Mayim Bialik a "hot head and a loudmouth feminist" or even a "bleeding-heart liberal" (her words, not ours) but for the purposes of her new book Girling Up, it's best if we actually peel back those layers and look beyond her vocal public persona to the woman, mother and neuroscientist underneath.
Bialik calls her new book, aimed at girls ages 10 to 18, "the encyclopedia of the female experience," no easy feat of writing in a time when there are enough definitions of feminism and girl power to make your head spin.
"This was a very, very difficult book to write. It's a really difficult topic. It's one I've struggled with my whole life as a female," Bialik explained. "Particularly, as I talk about in the book, as a female who didn't always fit the mold of what females are expected to be like. And that's kind of continued my entire life. So I have a little bit of a unique perspective, even though it didn't always feel like such a blessing to be so different."
But Bialik wanted to take the politics out of being female.
"We do not discuss political aspects of sexual intimacy," Bialik was sure to tell the parents at home reading.
She added, "I really wanted conservative parents and liberal parents alike to be able to give this book to their daughters without it feeling like it's a political statement.
But there is a chapter called "Sex and Dating."
Bialik broke it down for us, "The main emphasis of the sex and dating chapter is on understanding some of the fundamentals of emotional intimacy. Not just sexual or romantic intimacy, but emotional intimacy, because I want to try and infuse that notion of significance to relationships. We have emotionally intimate relationships with siblings, with best friends. You know, there's all sorts of kinds of relationships. But I really wanted to do it in stages. So we talk about emotional intimacy. Then we talk about the difference between that kind of intimacy and crushes, the feeling of romantic intimacy. No one ever explained to me what it would feel like when you like someone. Of course, it feels crazy and your head's everywhere, but I really wanted to explain: This is what goes on in your brain and body. This is why the judgments you make and the decisions you make should be weighed carefully. And that's not to say I wrote a chapter about, 'don't have sex before you get married' because for a lot of people, that's not going to be practical. But what I did want to do is reintroduce the notion of courtship. Why do we have courtship? What does it even mean? Is it even relevant today?"
The book isn't just sex and dating, though. Bialik really delves into any and all topics, including mental health challenges, puberty, volunteer work, finding your passion, using your voice, differences between genders and gender identity.
"My 11-year-old proofread this book. He was not a huge fan of looking at the chapters that talked about puberty and things like that because that's age appropriate for him not to want to," Bialik explained. "But in terms of the stuff about gender and about life choices, it is never too early to start talking to kids about the differences between boys and girls and the similarities between boys and girls. The notion of a lot of things in the book absolutely apply to boys, how our brains work and all those things are equal-opportunity information that I'm providing. But I think the book also provides a really good format for parents to use to open conversations with their daughters, and that, I think, is really, really important."
Buy Mayim Bialik's Book Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular on Amazon now!
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