The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Sexualizing the Past


One of the women featured in our Heroines Quilt Exhibition is Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager who hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam during the Holocaust. Even though she eventually died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, she has become known throughout the world because her father published the diary she kept while in hiding.

You would think Anne Frank would be the least likely person to become the subject of a sensational historical fiction novel–but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Sharon Dogar, an author of several young-adult books, is coming out with Annexed:  The Incredible Story of the Boy who Loved Anne Frank. The novel is told from the perspective of Peter van Pels, a teenager who hid in the same attic as the Frank family. In her diary, Anne recalls the crush she and Peter had on each other, which resulted in a kiss. In Annexed, Anne and Peter have sex, because Dogar feels that this really happened but was edited out by Anne’s father.

Plenty of historical women have had their stories sexed up in books and movies–just watch Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth or read Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl–but speculating about the intimate details of Anne Frank's life feels wrong. People read her diary because it is inspirational, because it gives them a very personal window into the suffering people endured and the rays of hope that one girl conjured up in spite of her circumstances. Reading sex in between the lines of Anne's writing, when she chose not to share anything beyond her kiss, is decidedly not why Otto Frank published his daughter's memories.

Sure, Sharon Dogar can write whatever she wants about Anne Frank–but is it necessary? Does anything else really need to be said about Anne Frank? Why can't we just let her speak for herself?

-Miriam Musco
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teen Voices



Teen Voices is an online and print magazine written for and by teenage girls.  Their mission is to "support and educate teen girls to amplify their voices and create social change through media," something they have successfully done since 1988.  Teen Voices gives girls a voice and a space where they are truly heard, encouraged, and given the tools to succeed and encourage others to succeed as well.  Their articles are timely and relevant, dealing with topics such as destructive or abusive relationships, adjusting to living in a new place, teen pregnancy, information on applying or going to college, or writing environmental poetry.  Chances are, if there is an issue out there that affects or interests girls, Teen Voices will have dealt with it.


If you want to get involved with Teen Voices, you have a variety of options, from becoming a member (or giving a gift membership to someone), writing for them, advertising with them, and more.  Teen Voices is an organization dedicated to building confidence and improving the world girls live in, so please visit and support their mission!

-Katie Weidmann
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Preventing Bullying


Have you ever been bullied? Young girls are being bullied about everything; their weight, skin color, fashion and sexuality. When I was in middle school, I was constantly picked on for being too skinny, fair skinned, and having zits. On a daily basis, students and so-called friends called me Construction Paper and Casper. Instead of telling a teacher or parent about the name calling, I decided to ignore it and hoped that my fellow classmates would move on. I’m sure my former classmates have forgotten about the name calling, but ten years later I am still self-conscious when I wear dresses and shorts. I am always wondering if people are talking about how fair my skin is. Recently, a co-worker told me I needed a tan and offered to give me a coupon for the salon she visits. I’m sure my co-worker didn’t mean to be insulting or rude, but her comment brought up the emotions I felt when I was teased and bullied in middle school.

Instead of ignoring the situation, young girls should reach out to classmates, teachers and parents. Telling someone about your experience can help your self-confidence and also allow other young girls to come forward. Ziainey Stokes, a 5th grade student from West Philadelphia, wrote a letter to President Obama about how she has been a victim of bullying for several years. President Obama personally responded to Ziainey’s letter. President Obama thanked Ziainey for bringing bullying to his attention and promised to give Ziainey and other students “a safe, engaging, and enjoyable classroom.” This letter gave Ziainey the confidence she needed to enjoy her education and start an organization called No Kid Should Be Bullied at her school. To read more about Ziainey, please check out "Bullied 5th Grader Inspired by Letter From the President."

Young girls are also experiencing bullying online. More and more girls may be spreading gossip online, because it is easy and cyber bullies are less likely to be held accountable. Meghan Pearce, a 25-year-old from Arizona, found her photo and hundreds of negative comments about her appearance and sexuality. Although the website was not liable for the comments, Meghan could have sued the account holders for their comments. Sounds simple enough, right? While account holders can be sued, it can be tough to figure out who the account holder really is, since websites aren’t required to reveal the account holder’s identity. To read more about Meghan Pearce and other girls affected by online bullies, please read "Why Are Nice, Normal Girls Getting Bullied Online?"

How can bullying be prevented? Schools can create an anti-bullying leadership program, role play with students and get parents involved. Online victims can remove personal photos from their social-networking site, contact someone to get comments removed, and stop reading posts. 

-Samantha  Bradbeer
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Reel Grrls" are Making a Difference for Young Girls


Reel Grrls, a nonprofit after school program, provides hands-on media workshops for 13 to 19 year-old girls from diverse communities to feel empowered share their talent with others. Malory Graham founded Reel Grrls in 2001 after realizing her male students were “doing almost all the filming” for a film production class.  Reel Grrls allows young girls of all backgrounds to learn about filmmaking and teamwork in a comfortable all-girl setting. To learn more about the founding of Reel Grrls, please check out "Reel Grrls Make Films about Real Girls."

While transitioning into foster care, Naomi Nelson joined the Reel Grrls program after a counselor signed her up for a weekend workshop. Naomi’s passion for photography, writing and film allowed her to voice her frustrations about education in the foster care system. During after school workshops, Naomi learned how to use a camera and edit films with the help of Reel Grrls volunteers. Naomi produced the film “Why Not?” to share her story with the world and to encourage other foster youths to reach out. To learn more about Naomi and her film, please check out "‘Reel Grrls’ Making a Difference for Girls through Film."

Like Naomi Nelson, all young girls involved in the Reel Grrls program are encouraged to tell their life story and share their ideas through film. To view films created by young girls involved in the Reel Grrls program, please check out the Reel Grrls Generation of Consolidation page. Reel Grrls participants are also encouraged to look critically at how young girls and women are portrayed in the media. 

To learn more about Reel Grrls or how to get involved, please visit http://www.reelgrrls.org.


-Samantha Bradbeer
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Girl Museum Boutique


Looking for a gift for that special girl in your life?  Like Girl Museum and want to spread the word?  Well, we want you to as well!  The Girl Museum Boutique has a selection of shirts, hoodies, baby bibs, stickers, water bottles, mugs, tote bags, and more, bearing Girl Museum's logo and/or positive messages about what it really means to be a girl.  The Boutique also features designs created exclusively for us by Outsider artist Sara Morsey.  If you're looking for that special gift for someone, visit the Girl Museum Boutique!  And never fear--the shop accepts a variety of currencies, so you're covered wherever you are!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More Students Cheating in School



Have you ever cheated on a test? Or copied a friend’s homework assignment? Although many young people know that cheating is wrong, almost 95 percent of high school students have cheated at least once during the course of their education.

Over the years, I have received numerous school handbooks that stated plagiarism and cheating would not be tolerated. Students may be threatened with suspension or a mark on their permanent record if they are caught cheating, so why do students feel the need to cheat? Students may feel that the assignment or the class is meaningless. Perhaps, the student is overworked in school, extracurricular activities and chores. To read more about why students are cheating, please check out "3 Top Reasons Why Students Cheat." 

Students aren’t the only ones that are feeling stress and unrealistic demands for academic achievement. Earlier this year, Georgia education officials found that 191 schools across the state had tampered answer sheets for the state’s standardized achievement tests. Teachers and other school officials are believed to have erased the wrong answers and penciled in the right answers after students completed the test. To read more about the investigation, please check out "Georgia Schools Inquiry Finds Signs of Cheating."

Although it may seem like everybody is cheating, teachers and parents need to let their students know that they can learn from their mistakes. If I ever cheated on a test and was caught, my parents would have freaked out and grounded me. Instead of yelling at the child and issuing a harsh punishment, parents should use this time as a teachable moment. A parent or teacher needs to assure the student that cheating is not acceptable and focus on the student’s sense of pride. Encouraging students to do their work honestly can ensure a sense of accomplishment. Please check out "What if My Child Got Caught Cheating at School?" to learn how to talk about cheating with your child.

-Samantha Bradbeer
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Raising Money for the Gulf

Olivia, 11 years old, raises money for wildlife affected by BP oil spill

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is devastating beaches, wildlife, and the fishing industry.  The spill is also being described as the worst ecological disaster to hit the area and countless questions are still left unanswered. How much oil has been released into the environment? What are the long-term consequences of this disaster?  And most importantly what can we do to make a difference? 

Children and adults can help save the wildlife and clean up the oil spill by donating time and money to the disaster. Thousands of volunteers are currently involved in cleaning up the beaches. If you are able to volunteer your time or make a donation, please visit "Where to Volunteer, How to Donate, and How to Report Incidents." 

After hearing about the how the oil spill can harm wildlife, fifth-grader Olivia Bouler of Islip, New York wrote a letter to the National Audubon Society and volunteered to sell her paintings of birds in order to raise money to protect animals affected by the oil spill. In a little over a month, Olivia has raised over $100,000 by selling 500 illustrations.  You can read more about Olivia and the National Audubon Society at Olivia’s Help the Gulf Region Wildlife Project

Aside from volunteering and collecting donations, this ecological disaster allows the opportunity for children and adults to learn more about protecting our environment. To learn how to talk to your child about the oil spill, please visit the Philadelphia Green Parenting Examiner’s article on "How to Help the Gulf Oil Spill Clean Up Efforts." 

-Samantha Bradbeer
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Instilling a Spirit of Adventure


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
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Monday, July 5, 2010

MindUP


Our children spend years and years in school studying reading, writing and arithmetic, however, how many are introduced to reflection, relationships and resilience? The answer, unfortunately, is very few. A new curriculum called MindUP, founded by actress Goldie Hawn, aims to change this by teaching children how to be in touch with their emotions and manage stress through focused breathing, focused attention, relaxation and awareness.

A team of neuroscientists, doctors, researchers, educators and psychologists developed this innovative programme as a response to child/teen frustration, anxiety, and lack of empathy, in the hope of creating happiness among young people and an appreciation for the internal, as well as the external world, in which they live. The aim was to teach children the capacity to tune into themselves and others, to balance emotions, to pause before taking action, to extinguish fear after trauma, to develop insight and empathy, morality, creativity, and intuition. You can read an article and see Goldie Hawn speak on the subject here.

This focus on mindfulness and well being in the classroom is new but it should not be surprising. In recent years there has been a growing awareness of these qualities among adults as many of them stray from organized religions towards a more personal spirituality, however, until now there has not been a large movement for passing these qualities onto our children. This is a welcome beginning. Can you imagine what a whole generation of adults would be like if these qualities were rooted in their earliest years? I look forward to finding out.

Sarah Lynch
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Girls Book Blog


If you follow our blog, you probably know that Girl Museum Inc. consists of more than just this blog.  We are also an online museum, located at www.girlmuseum.org.  There you can find a variety of exhibitions about girls, including our newest exhibition, Across Time and Space: Multicultural Representations of Girlhood, our ongoing exhibition, Heroines Quilt, and our inaugural exhibition, Defining Our Terms.

Additionally, Girl Museum also sponsors the Girls Book Blog, a project created by the Girl Museum to encourage girls to read, write, think and share about books and ideas that are important to them.  We're always eager for new submissions, so if you or a girl you know (particularly between the ages of 9 and 16) wants to share a book with us and other girls, we'd love to hear about it.  If you want to participate, contact the Head Girl.  Make sure you include your age, school level, and where you live.