The last weekend of February, Katie and I were thrilled to be representing Girl Museum at the “After Girl Power – What Next?” conference held by the University of York, UK. The two-day event aimed to examine what has changed for the experience of girls in the past two decades since the Spice Girls first proclaimed their “Girl Power” message.
On the first evening, we were greeted by our host, Melinda Luisa de Jesus, and were then treated to a wonderful reception from the Women’s Studies Department. There were readings by two authors, Rozena Maart and Paula Morris, who discussed their work writing about and for girls. This was preceded by an entertaining play by University of York student Ailish McAlpine-Green which explored modern girls love/hate relationship with their menstrual cycle.
The conference brought together a truly international crowd, with speakers from the UK, North America, Hong Kong, India, South Africa and, of course, Katie and myself representing the virtual museum world. We were presenting bright and early, which may account for the slight hiccup when our presentation failed to work. We won through in the end, however, thanks largely to seeing the friendly faces of our fellow Junior Girls, Jess and Marisa, in the audience. After our talk, we had some excellent feedback, with people showing a great deal of interest in Girl Museum and our message of celebrating Girlhood.
With so many interesting speakers, we split into two groups and took in both of the afternoon panels. Katie and Jess attended the panel exploring Girls and Pop Culture where topics ranged from the influence of Hannah Montana to how the American Girls doll phenomenon is turning even the youngest girls into serial consumers of the born-to-shop mentality. Marisa and myself were present at the Globalizing Girl Studies panel. Discussions covered the young female activists in Hong Kong; women in the UK’s Traveller community; and a creative writing workshop for girls in South Africa.
There were so many fantastic speakers and we also got a great insight into some of the current research being carried out by Gender Studies students into the Girl experience. The conference was a great deal of fun, we met some wonderful people and hopefully we’ll be able to work with them in the future. The greatest positive was that we really got the Girl Museum message out there and got people excited about what we are doing.
A big thank you to Melinda and the University of York Women’s Studies department for a fabulous conference and for helping us to celebrate Girlhood.
Girl Museum Inc.