An ongoing exhibition at Girl Museum looks at our childhood heroines through the Heroine Quilt. These girlhood heroines range from relatives to literary figures to women who broke through the sex barrier and became important in their own right. Women like Amelia Earhart and girls in literature like Lewis Carroll's Alice highlight the respect we have for women who seek adventure (both are featured in the Heroine Quilt). A recent article in the Guardian newspaper lists the top ten women travellers in fiction. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland immediately springs to mind, but the list also includes Clarissa Dalloway from Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, who does not travel physically but travels far mentally. Wendy Darling from Peter Pan gets a mention as does Aunt Augusta in Graham Greene's Travels with my Aunt.
Being adventurous is something girls should aspire to, or at the very least be allowed to conceive as something worth having. Victorian England gave us women who travelled the world disregarding their gender in a period where gender dictated every social move and situation. Unmarried women were often brushed aside because of their spinsterhood, allowing them to often lead the charge in travelling, though it does help that many of them had quite a bit of money!
It is easy to not be adventurous; it is a difficult thing to do, to get up and do something one hasn't done before, but the difficulty is always superseded by sense of accomplishment and achievement. Read an article about GirlVentures, an organization in the San Francisco area that encourages girls to break away from the traditional feminine mold of reserve and restraint. Adventure does not always mean travel but should be something one hasn't done before. Girls should be encouraged to try new things, to feel a sense of self achievement in trying new things, whether they are big gestures or just a new personal accomplishment. A girl's curiosity about the world should be encouraged and explored. Curiouser and curiouser.
-Julie Anne Young
Girl Museum Inc.