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?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Women's History Month

March is special for many reasons to Girl Museum.  Besides being Women’s History month, Girl Museum Inc. was born in March 2009.  Last year we honored our girlhood heroines through our audience-generated Heroines Quilt exhibition.  This year we have taken a slightly different approach.  For each (almost) day of March, we will be posting alphabetically an array of info including bios, quotes, and ideas about and pertaining to Women’s History.  They are thoughts for the day to remind us about the importance of women in history and the future!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Being a Girl in an Anti-Woman Backlash: Organizing and Protesting


In the last few weeks, the anti-woman backlash has gotten newly energized and especially vicious and this re-emergence has become readily apparent on my college campus at Florida State University. Whether it is large-scale anti-choice demonstrations, fierce attacks on our feminist community by the College Republicans, or the sheer knowledge of the legislative backlash that is being considered this session, the anti-woman sentiments of our current political status quo are inescapable. 

About a week ago, my campus was invaded by the Genocide Awareness Project, an anti-choice demonstration that includes giant scale, illegally obtained, and mislabeled photographs of late-term aborted fetuses along side of photographs of the mangled bodies of victims of historical genocides like the Holocaust and the killings in Rwanda. This comparison offends many more than pro-choice advocates.  The GAP operates in secrecy so as to avoid students organizing a demonstration to challenge theirs. 

However, my local Planned Parenthood gave me and my feminist RSO, The F-Word, a heads-up about their impending arrival.  We had about a week to organize a counter-demonstration.  We immediately began creating an organized team of protesters, utilizing Facebook to access rogue feminists and pro-choice people on campus, and to let them know information they would need to be involved in our protest.  We compromised on demonstration tactics with other organizations and individuals within the movement in order to create some solidarity of pro-choice presence. 


This proved to be the most difficult part of organizing for this counter-protest.  In the end we had signs large enough to rival the two-story scale photographs the opposition were displaying, more message-oriented small signs, and a fact-sheet that described why the GAP display's images and comparisons were inaccurate and offensive to genocide survivors and people related to them. By the day that the GAP's presence arrived, The F-Word and I were already exhausted from conflict. 

We arrived at about 9:30 am at our Union Green, where the display was already set up and staffed with volunteers.  Their volunteers stand behind a protective metal fence surrounding the display.  Our counter-demonstration started small and grew rapidly, peaking at about 200 people. On the second day of the demonstration, the GAP got a permit to use amplified sound, which they used for a Q & A in order to espouse their arguments.  Individuals within our counter-demonstration started chants like ‘My body, my choice’, and ‘Keep it legal, keep it safe’. Our collective voices drowned out their single electronically amplified one. 

Being girls and feminists, and many of us queer girls, in the middle of this fervent debate made us uniquely aware of how the opposition felt about us.  Many of us gave in to the temptation to engage in arguments with anti-choice supporters and were disappointed to have our arguments dismissed with judgmental statements like, "Go shave your armpits."  One young man on the anti-choice side of the argument brought a hand made sign that read, ‘If you don't want a baby coming out, don't have guys coming in’. The rampant slut-shaming and objectification of women was difficult to take silently.  Some screaming matches ended up erupting, and some individuals chose to deal with the opposition by yelling maniacal statements at passers-by, but overall the pro-choice demonstration kept it's cool and acted the more sane party. 

 
In the end, the pro-choice counter demonstration was a huge success; the F Word got 1500 signatures stating that they did not welcome GAP's presence on their campus, and many new members.  The pro-choice solidarity was incredible.  People of all genders, races, political affiliations, ages, religions, and backgrounds came together to demonstrate their passion for a woman's right to choose.  The diversity of the pro-choice presence, the fervent energy the presence generated, and the sense of unity within our counter-demonstration gave us a resonant feeling of hope that is sustaining many of us through this anti-woman backlash.

-Kaitlin Froom
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

**Message from the Head Girl
Check out the No Abortion/Genocide Awareness Project website to see the manipulation of imagery, history and context for yourself.

To read about the actual Genocide Awareness Project, check out their blog.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Win a Wife?



A New Zealand radio station, The Rock FM, announced a new contest on Valentine’s Day, “Win A Wife.” The radio station contest is essentially giving away a mail order bride from Ukraine to one winner. The winner will choose a woman from the online database Endless Love (which includes teenage girls) and be flown to Ukraine on March 23 with a dozen roses, 12 nights of accommodation and $2,000 for spending money.


Many believe this ‘matchmaking’ contest and databases like Endless Love are promoting human trafficking. Just a day after the contest was announced the Ukrainian Association of New Zealand and the Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia has filed a complaint to New Zealand’s Broadcasting Standards Authority and with The Rock FM’s owner MediaworksThe Ukrainian Ambassador believes this contest is an “indecent demonstration of low taste and cultural standards as well as utter disrespect and violation of human dignity.” "Stop the Rock’s ‘Win a Wife’ campaign", a Facebook group, has been trying to put pressure on the radio station’s advertisers.

After feedback from the press and letters from the Ukrainian Ambassador, The Rock told listeners to tune in for a big announcement by management. What was the big announcement? The Rock decided to change the contest name from “Win A Wife” to “Win A Trip To Beautiful Ukraine For 12 Nights And Meet Eastern European Hot Lady Who Maybe One Day You Marry.” The Rock’s program director, Brad King, told the media last week, “Some people think it’s a little stupid, others see it as what it is, a tongue-in-cheek idea that gives someone the opportunity of a lifetime to travel on an all expenses paid trip to the Ukraine.”

Interested in learning about human trafficking? Please check out the Girl Museum’s Girl for Sale exhibition on March 31st.
- Samantha Bradbeer
Junior Girl
Girl Museum, Inc.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tweens: This Makeup's For You!


Image: http://www.sodahead.com/entertainment

For many parents, their daughters' middle school years can turn into a stalemate over makeup. Tween girls see how much pop stars rely on makeup to achieve their image and may want to emulate their idols. They also see their mothers put on makeup to go out, which conveys to them that using makeup magically turns you into a mature adult (at least, that’s what my 11-year-old self thought). On the other hand, parents don't want to see their girls grow up too fast or painted up like a circus clown, and so they try and stave off the moment when their daughter reaches for an eyeshadow palette.

For many years, girls who wanted to experiment with makeup had to sneak some of their mother's products out of the bathroom cabinets. Now Wal-Mart is making it much easier for tweens to get all dolled up by introducing a line of makeup marketed specifically to elementary and middle-school girls. Wal-Mart claims these products will help parents educate their girls about skin care, but many parents are afraid that this will make it even harder to convince girls to keep their skin looking natural. Others worry that makeup is a way to sexualize girls.

I’m not so much worried about tarting-up girls, or about epic parental battles. For many girls, wearing ridiculous amounts of over-pigmented makeup is something to look back on and laugh. I remember sitting next to a girl in my sixth grade math class who had coated her eyelids in teal powder and thought she looked spectacular. I felt the same way about the mole I decided to draw on my cheek with a colored pencil. 

But this is Wal-Mart we're talking about, a corporation that would probably murder half its shareholders if it meant driving up sales by a few percentage points. Wal-Mart has found a previously untapped market and is using the power of marketing to suggest that even young girls need to spend money in order to look presentable. Every day women are bombarded with messages that looking good takes a lot of money, and it’s a shame that girls are now being told the same thing.

- Miriam Musco
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Great Girl Books


Image via http://www.hmsg.co.uk/en/H_Rees01

Celia Rees, an English author, is one of my favourite writers. She writes for young adults, but her popularity shows that books aren’t limited by age groups – good books are good books no matter who reads them.

Celia has written various thrillers and horrors but the books that I prefer are the historical fiction books. They are not just historical; each book’s protagonist is a young woman who finds herself in situations not normal for the time. Feminism before feminism. Here is a list of these books:

Witch Child is about a young girl, Mary, who moves to New England from England in 1660. Finding herself embroiled in witch accusations in a Puritan village, she disappears and her story is told from her diary, which is found in a quilt.

Sorceress is the follow up to Witch Child and the story is told between Agnes, a young Native American girl and Mary, as the rest of Mary’s life story is explored.

Pirates! is about a young woman and an escaped Jamaican slave who become pirates. Who wouldn’t want to be 16 and a pirate?

Sovay tells the story of Sovay, a young woman who gets swept up in the French Revolution, highway robbery as well as political intrigue.

Fool’s Girl is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, including appearances from Will Shakespeare himself.

Celia Rees doesn’t shy away from hardships and her protagonists have to deal with sexism, ignorance and little or no liberty, as was normal for women of each of these times, as well as fighting, death, peril and hardship. Her books are meticulously researched and enjoyable. Just go read them, all of them. When you’ve done that, read them again.

- Julie Anne Young
Junior Girl
Girl Museum, Inc.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Calling all Girl Geeks


Though some women take offensive at the title of “geek,” others embrace it.  But whether you love or hate the title, female geeks often feel isolated in the technology community, making up less than 10% of the technical workforce in the UK.  This is where Girl Geek Dinners comes in.  Founded by Sarah Blow in 2005, Girl Geek Dinners provide a forum where women in technology don't have to constantly “prove themselves” and can be recognized as experts in their fields without the “old fashioned social stereotypes” that some people (though not all, she is quick to state) still believe.

Girl Geek Dinners are not formal events; they are generally buffet dinners, with speakers on a variety of topics relevant to technology and/or business, or women in technology.  Despite the name, men are welcome to attend, provided they've received an invitation from a female who will be attending the Dinner.  The number of men allowed to attend varies; it can be up to 50%.  It has been found that when more men attend an event the group dynamics change, as men aren't used to dealing with women in a technical situation.  Conversely, women are also not used to being around other women in technology.  The ultimate hope of Girl Geek Dinners is that they will become irrelevant as women become more prevalent in technological fields.

In the meantime, if you're interested in attending a Girl Geek Dinner, a list of current, active Girl Geek Dinner events around the world can be found here.  For more information on Girl Geek Dinners, read a BBC News article or visit the Girl Geek Dinners website.
-Katie Weidmann
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Monday, February 14, 2011

When Child Abuse Isn't Real


I’m not usually a fan of memoirs, but I picked up My Lie by Meredith Maran because I was intrigued by the book’s premise. Maran tells the story of how, as an adult, she claimed to have recovered a memory of her father molesting her as a child – and then years later, realized that this was a false accusation. The idea that someone could have a false memory about such a serious incident was puzzling at first, but as I found out, Maran’s allegation didn’t occur in a vacuum.

In the 1980s social scientists began to realize that childhood sexual abuse was more common than was previously imagined. Women and men started to come forward as incest survivors, and therapists had to learn how to treat them. But what started as a movement of acceptance and healing soon turned into a nationwide panic. Suddenly thousands of adult women, coaxed by therapists claiming to help “recover” memories, began accusing their fathers of childhood abuse, on the basis of incidents they believed to have unconsciously repressed.

At the same time, many children started claiming to have been molested by teachers and day care providers. Some of these allegations were true, but some (animal sacrifices, satanic rites, secret underground chambers) were incredibly ridiculous. As with any type of scare, though, these cases became sensationalized and the public was both fascinated and horrified, convinced that any man allowed to be around children had the potential to become a pedophile.

Maran’s experience as a “survivor” during this time shows how entrenched and unreasonable some in the anti-incest movement became. She likens some of the support network that arose to a cult, complete with their own lingo, rituals, and shaming techniques for anyone who dared question the validity of any abuse story.

Today, recovered memories are not usually accepted as evidence in courts, and psychologists believe that it is rare for any kind of traumatic memory to repressed and then remembered years later. The effects of this panic, however, are still being felt today. Just look at how few men work in preschools and day cares, or ask any single man in his thirties or forties what precautions he has to take on a daily basis in order to remain blameless.

The story behind Maran’s accusation was fascinating, but the more important point of My Lie was the evidence of how a movement meant to do good can also cause so much harm.

- Miriam Musco
Junior Girl
Girl Museum, Inc.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Fatwa Against a Girl


A crowd outside of Hena Begum's house.

As a girl living in the western world, I don’t realise the things I take for granted until I realise how they might be taken away; the freedom to eat and wear what I like, the freedom to hang out with whoever I like, wherever I like and the freedom and ability to defend myself against charges against my reputation which could lead to my death.  Luckily the latter is something that would never happen in my world – but it can happen regularly in other countries. 

The body of a 14 year old girl, who was given 80 lashes for allegedly having an affair with a married man in Bangladesh, has been ordered to be exhumed in order to examine cause of death. Hena Begum died a week after receiving the lashes on the authority of a village court made up of elders and clerics.

Many villagers have been arrested for her death and the High Court in Bangladesh has also ordered the doctors who issued the initial post-mortem to appear before court. Even though Sharia law was outlawed in Bangladesh, this is another death that highlights how religious rulings (Fatwa) have absolute rule over the law of the courts. Hena Begum’s death at the hands of her community cannot be accepted in any society.

- Julie Anne Young
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Vogueista?


Hurrah! The current fashion trend is leading away from skinny jeans and favouring more the 70s style wide legged trousers. Clothes that suit me again! But Fashion isn’t something I try to understand; someone who does is Tavi Gevinson. A teenage girl who has become famous for fashion musings on her blog Style Rookie and who was voted a ‘Vogueista’ by Italian Vogue back in November.


While she started the blog at the age of 11, she has become a sort-of fashion star, featuring in interviews, magazine covers and collaborating to produce fashion lines (notably with BordersandFrontiers to produce a line of t-shirts).  We have a now-13 year-old blogger who has become a major influence in the fashion world.

There are, of course, many fashion blogs out there, many of which feature pictures of the bloggers themselves in outfits put together themselves. But is this right for a young girl to become involved in? Is it right that a 13 year old should post pictures of herself online or are we living in a time when Tavi’s generation don’t feel the need or right to privacy? Fashion and children is an interesting area. The Pre-Victorian world saw children dressed as little adults and now there’s a return to this, albeit more risqué.

Should an interest in fashion be encouraged in the young or should functional clothes be encouraged. Is the world of fashion too controversial for young girls to be interested in?  A previous blog post looked at the disturbing pictures taken of little girls in French Vogue. Is fashion, like make-up, something that girls should experiment with as teenagers ? Or should someone like Tavi be admired for being the youngest influential blogger – someone’s whose opinion is noted by those who are twice Tavi’s age.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I admire her confidence and am jealous of her ability to ooze cool, but she is still 13. Check out her blog and make up your own decision.

- Julie Anne Young
Junior Girl
Girl Museum, Inc.

Friday, February 4, 2011

It’s Super Bowl Weekend! Wanna get some underage hookers?

In this photo made Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011, anti-sex trade advocate Jackie Edmonds holds anti-trafficking awareness coasters that her group will ask restaurants to use near the Super Bowl site in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

There is no aspect of this article that surprises me at all. Any place that men gather in groups of more than one, like golf tournaments, NASCAR rallies and football games, there will be prostitutes—either making money for themselves or for their pimps. The importation of underage girls into towns specifically for major events held so dearly like the Super Bowl is horrific, but not shocking. What continues to disappoint me is how little publicity it receives. 

Well done to the North Texas Trafficking Task Force and other advocacy groups for putting together an awareness campaign trying to address the issue in such a profit, personality & hormone driven atmosphere. It will be a marketing challenge to get the message across to an audience watching other people’s daughters in skimpy cheerleading outfits and waiting to see if grown up child stars now sexy songstresses Fergie and Christina Aguilera have wardrobe malfunctions. 

Please read for further information and come to Girl Museum’s next exhibition Girl for Sale, opening on March 31, which looks at the worldwide problem of girl trafficking.

-Ashley E. Remer
Head Girl
Girl Museum