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?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Definition of Honor

Photo: Katie Sweeney / DTH
Landen Gambill, a sophomore, submitted a complaint with several others in January to the Office for Civil Rights about UNC’s treatment of sexual assault cases.

If you were verbally and emotionally abused, sexually assaulted, and ultimately raped by someone, what would you do? How would you react? Would you report the abuse to the authorities, or stay silent?

Women and girls face these questions every day. Although it's irrational (and they may know it), many women blame themselves and so keep quiet. Of those who do speak out, many of them face victim-blaming questions like "why were you alone?" or "why did you wear that outfit?" Women and girls who have already suffered trauma face more guilt and blame, whether they report the abuse or not.

Landen Gambill, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina, says she suffered verbal and sexual abuse from her long-term boyfriend, also a student at UNC. After they broke up, she says he continued to stalk and harass her. In the spring of 2012 she chose to report these actions to the university's Honor Court–which is made up of students–Gambill says she faced inappropriate questions about her mental health and past relationship.
"The woman student said to me, 'Landen, as a woman, I know that if that had happened to me, I would've broken up with him the first time it happened. Will you explain to me why you didn't?'" she said.
 Gambill said the court used her history of clinical depression and her suicide attempt–which she said was a result of her abusive relationship–against her.
"They implied that I was emotionally unstable and couldn't be telling the truth because I had attempted suicide," she said.

Ultimately, the Honor Court found Gambill's ex-boyfriend not guilty. Because she felt the case had been mishandled, she (along with others) filed a complaint with U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights against UNC, stating that the University is negligent and insensitive in dealing with reports of sexual assault and violence. Shortly after going public with her case–in which she has never publicly named the person she's accusing–she was informed that she might be in violation of UNC's Honor Code. The charge is that Gambill has created a hostile environment for her ex-boyfriend by her accusation. Specifically she is accused of
I.C.1.c. - Disruptive or intimidating behavior that willfully abuses, disparages, or otherwise interferes with another (other than on the basis of protected classifications identified and addressed in the University's Policy on Prohibited Harassment and Discrimination) so as to adversely affect their academic pursuits, opportunities for University employment, participation in University-sponsored extracurricular activities, or opportunities to benefit from other aspects of University Life.
If Gambill is found guilty, she potentially faces expulsion. Other possible punishments include various types of suspension or probation, loss of privileges, community service, a written warning, grade penalties, or an educational assignment.

Meanwhile, her accused rapist has faced no penalties.

UNC removed sexual assault completely from its Honor Code in August 2012.

-Katie Weidmann
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Satire or hurtful? Jokes at the Oscars.

Nine year-old Quvenzhan√© Wallis at the 2013 Oscars, the youngest actress ever to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination.
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

With the Oscar season done for another year, we can immediately start predicting next year's nominees, as well as next year's host. Personally, I also hope for an improvement on how women–particularly those in the spotlight–are viewed and talked about.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't find Seth MacFarlane funny. I've never been amused by Family Guy, and I find his humor insulting, as well as predicable and repetitive. But he is "edgy," and rumor has it that the producers of the Oscars wanted someone to draw in the all-important younger demographics. And lots of people do find Seth MacFarlane hilarious, so I can understand why he was asked to host the Oscars. I can also understand why he took the job; no matter what you think of the awards ceremony, hosting the Oscars is a huge gig, and being offered the role of host is something you don't turn down without a great deal of thought first.

Poking a bit of gentle fun at the nominees and others in the crowd is fine and even a time-honored tradition: Bob Hope was making jokes about people in the industry in the 1940s. Mean-spirited and hurtful barbs, however, are rarely funny and not appropriate for what is supposed to be a celebration of talent and those skilled in their craft (I know others argue that the Oscars are self-serving, but I personally enjoy the pageantry and celebration). Seth MacFarlane, instead reduced women to their breasts, made an awkward and vaguely inappropriate joke about 9 year-old Quvenzhan√© Wallis being close to the right age for George Clooney to date, implied that Jennifer Aniston used to be a stripper, and made a horrible quip about the violent Django Unchained being a "date night" movie for Rihanna and Chris Brown. And lest you think all his inappropriate jokes centered around women, MacFarlane joked about John Wilkes Booth shooting Lincoln (the audience booed) and made a Jewish joke which the Anti-Defamation League said was "offensive and not remotely funny. It only reinforces stereotypes which legitimise anti-Semitism."

Some people defend the choice of MacFarlane as host, saying he was satirizing how the media views women and celebrities, or that women need to learn how to take a joke (or both). I have a problem with that; satire can often be subtle, but if so many people missed the point–as the scathing commentary on the Internet implies–then the satire was either too subtle, or more likely, it missed the mark (For an in-depth look at MacFarlane's performance as host, read Katey Rich and Kristy Puchko's commentary here). While movies and the media expect women to look and act a certain way, and hold them to higher standards than men–hence MacFarlane's joke about women throwing up to fit into their dresses–that satire about double-standards didn't come across. Instead, we just heard about a bunch of movies in which you can see topless women (some of the topless scenes mentioned involved characters being raped), making light of domestic violence and assault, and describing Jessica Chastain's character in Zero Dark Thirty as "a celebration of every woman's innate inability to never ever let anything go." And he made a sex joke about a girl. Even if the joke was supposed to be about Clooney, it was a sex joke about a little girl. None of those things read as satire. Whether Seth MacFarlane is personally misogynistic, anti-Semitic, or anything else, his "jokes" did in fact propagate those things, teaching children that it is ok to be hurtful to one another, and that women really are only there for the pleasure of men.

Perhaps next year Tina Fey and Amy Poehler can host the Oscars.

-Katie Weidmann
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Friday, February 22, 2013

So you want to be a Teacher

"Hard work and rewarding" is the usual response to the question "what is it like being a teacher?" and the response says it all. Being a teacher is like being on a rollercoaster–there are highs and there are definitely lows.

To be a teacher you have to have confidence: you are an actor and you have to stick to your guns. Let us start with teachers that only teach one subject–secondary teachers perhaps–these teachers must have passion for their subject if they are to truly be great teachers. We all had a great teacher in secondary school and these were the ones that cared most about their subject. For instance, I had a really great maths teacher; he was really passionate about maths and always liked to link everyday things to maths (he always found something interesting about the date!). Primary school teachers (those who teach under 11s) have a harder job as they have install passion into all subjects. To be a great primary school teacher you have to bring enthusiasm out in the children.

Most of teaching is hard work–you work long hours planning lessons, carrying out assessments, and trying to differentiate the work to suit the various abilities in your class. The holidays are what many people go into teaching for but half of these will be spent planning, and so the time you do get off is well deserved! The rewards for all the hard work are worth it: many teachers experience break-through moments–when you have been struggling to get through to one or two problem children for months and all of a sudden something you say reaches them. These moments may be few however–the rest of the year you may be struggling to be heard over a class of 29 children all vying for attention and not listening to a word you say. You will get ill more than you would in any other job–germs in schools spread like wildfire and at least one day a week you will come home with a headache. Your methods will be scrutinised constantly by parents, the children, other staff, government, and various oversight bodies. You will, however, always have a funny story about 'what one child said,' work will never be dull, and if you get it right you will be remembered for doing something worthwhile.

For more information about becoming a teacher in the UK, visit the National Careers Service.

-Emma Hatherall
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Child pregnancy can mean child death

Well developed: Doctors at the hospital outside Guadalajara have cast doubt on her real age because of her biological characteristics.

On January 27, 2013, a girl, referred to only as Dafne, gave birth in Mexico. What brought international attention to this event was the fact that the birth mother was said to be only 9 years old. After the birth, she was permanently sterilized by the doctors, against the will of her family. According to local police spokesman Lino Gonzalez, the baby girl was born in a hospital in Guadalajara, and the mother and baby are both doing well. Gonzalez said the girl's parents alerted police after the alleged father, a teenager the girl referred to as her boyfriend, had not been seen around their neighborhood. Neighbors also suggested that the girl's stepfather was the real father of her baby.    

This case has been been the subject of intense of media attention. Since the story first broke, it has been revealed that the actual age of the girl is 12, not 9 as originally stated, and the father of her baby has been proven to be her 44-year old stepfather. It is uncertain at this point why her mother lied about her age, it has been suggested that her mother, a suspected sex worker, "may have been trying to get her into school for the first time as she had not gone until now. Another more sinister reason could have been if, as has been claimed by neighbours, the mother is a prostitute who is trying to turn Dafne into a sex worker too, a nine-year-old could command a higher fee from clients than a teenager."

The exact age of the girl does not alter the horrifying ordeal she has gone through, and sadly her story is far from unique among under-aged girls around the world.  

In April of 2012 a 10 year-old Colombian girl gave birth, also to a baby girl. According to a June 2012 report from Save the Children, pregnancy is the biggest killer of teenage girls worldwide. The report  notes that "girls under 15 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy than women in their 20s. Babies born to younger mums are also at far greater risk and around one million babies born to adolescent girls die every year–babies are 60% more likely to die if their mother is under 18." Every year one million teenage girls die or are injured because of pregnancy or childbirth.  

These girls are having their girlhood, and sometimes even their lives, stolen from them. These stories are a reminder how necessary it is to support actions like One Billion Rising, a global campaign to end violence against women and girls and "bring about a time when women are cherished, safe, free, and equal."

-Emily Holm
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Indian girls take a stand against culture of rape

Hope: An Indian women drinks tea during one of many protests.
Photo: AP

In December last year a young woman was raped and attacked while on a bus with a male friend in Delhi; she later died in hospital from her injuries. The attackers of this young woman are alleged to be six men, the youngest of which was just 17 years old and will be tried as a juvenile; if convicted he will receive a maximum of only 3 years in a reform facility. The men were on a bus that stopped at a roadside in Mahipalpur and lured the couple on board, promising them a lift home. The men, including the bus driver who was among those arrested for the attack, brutally raped the woman for over an hour and then threw the naked and injured couple off the bus; it was another 40 minutes before a passerby called the emergency services. That's 40 minutes of passing cars and no-one going to help.

This appalling attack was one in a long list of violent rapes in India. Last year, there was a rape reported every 20 minutes and just 26 percent of those resulted in a conviction.

This latest attack has highlighted the large gap between two different sides of the modern India–the affluent businesses, expensive cars, and growing economy versus the struggling slums and violent culture that is still apparent on the edges (and centres) of the growing cities. It also sparked anger from the growing number of young, educated urban women and voters who were no longer prepared to put up with an unresponsive political elite and public in the face of attacks such as these. It led to a month of candlelight vigils, mass demonstrations, and street protests against the growing culture of rape in India. The need for greater protection for girls in India against sexual violence is now brought to the surface and we hope that in the face of the latest attacks the country will stand up and do something. 

-Emma Hatherall
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Inspirational Girls: Grace Bussell

Grace Bussell

Though she is the national heroine of Australia, these days Grace Bussell is largely unheard of in most of the rest of the world. But in 1876, at just 16 years old, Grace is credited for rescuing the survivors of the sinking SS Georgette. Bound for Adelaide, the Georgette sprung a leak approximately 32km out to sea. The pumps didn't work, and the crew and passengers were unable to bail fast enough. With the boiler room flooded, the Georgette was adrift and sinking.

As the Georgette drifted into Calgardup Bay, Aborigine Sam Isaacs watched from the shore. A stockman for the Bussell family, he quickly rode the 20km to the Bussell property to alert them of the impending disaster. Grace quickly mounted her horse and followed Sam back to the scene of the disaster. Without hesitation, Grace urged her horse into the surf, ignoring the wind and rough seas.

According to the January 31, 1877 edition of the Commercial News, Grace was by all accounts fearless.
The boat swamped, they were all in the water, and in the greatest danger, when, on the top of the steep cliff appeared a young lady on horseback. Those who were present have told me that they did not think that a horse could come down that cliff, but down that dangerous place this young lady rode at speed; there were lives to be saved, and, with the same fearless and chivalrous bravery that urged Grace Darling to peril her life for fellow creations, and gave her a name in all English history thereafter, Grace Bussell rode down that cliff, urged her horse into boiling surf, and out beyond the second line of roaring breakers, till she reached the boat where the women and children were in such peril. Her horse stumbled over the rope and she was nearly lost, but managed to get alongside the boat, and then with as many women and children clinging to her and the horse as possible, she made for the shore and landed them. A man was left on the boat, and he could not get to shore till Miss Bussell sent her black servant on horseback to aid him. So furious was the surf that it took four hours to land 50 people, and every boat engaged was capsized.
Hyperbole aside, Grace Bussell and Sam Isaacs were able to rescue all those still alive (two women and five children drowned when a lifeboat being lowered was hit by a wave and broke in half.). The survivors were taken to the Bussell homestead, where they were purportedly welcomed and sheltered. For her part in the rescue, Grace was awarded the medal of the Royal Humane Society (Sam received a medal as well, a rarity for an Aborigine at the time, and though his was bronze, not silver like Grace's, he was also given a Crown Grant of 100 acres of land). Additionally, she became famous around the world, drawing comparisons to Britain's Grace Darling, and having towns and streets named for her. One young man, Frederick Drake-Brockman, was so impressed by her bravery that he rode the 300km from Perth to meet her. In 1882, Grace married him.

Though less famous today than she was over 130 years ago, Grace Bussell is still an inspiration, reminding us that you don't need to be big or strong or male or even an adult to save lives. With no thought for her own safety, Grace risked her life to save those who would have otherwise drowned. Perhaps this is why she is the national heroine of Australia.

-Katie Weidmann
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

One Billion Rising

In 1998 Eve Ensler, the author, playwright, and activist who wrote The Vagina Monologues, founded the V-Day movement. V-Day is celebrated every February 14th, and has become a worldwide movement, raising awareness–and money–for female victims of violence and sexual assault. 

February 14th, 2013 marks the 15th anniversary of V-Day. This year, alongside performances of The Vagina Monologues and readings from A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer, women all over the world will step away from their lives for a moment to dance in a collective show of strength, support, and revolution.

One In Three Women On
The Planet Will Be Raped
Or Beaten In Her Lifetime.

One Billion Women
Violated Is An Atrocity.

One Billion Women
Dancing Is A Revolution.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of V-Day, people from all over the world will participate in One Billion Rising, a global campaign to end violence against women and girls and "bring about a time when women are cherished, safe, free, and equal." Through dancing, we show that we cannot be kept down, and won't be controlled. Dancing was chosen as the medium for One Billion Rising because "dancing insists we take up space." It's sometimes subversive, and often disruptive. It can be an individual activity, or a communal one. It's uncontrollable and "it spreads quickly. It's of the body. It's transcendent."

Here at Girl Museum's virtual headquarters, we're in wholehearted support of V-Day, One Billion Rising, and V-Girls. V-Day's mission is simple: "Women should spend their lives creating and thriving rather than surviving or recovering from terrible atrocities." So as we strike, dance, and rise in support of a future where girls are celebrated and can live free of violence, we hope you'll join us in WellingtonHuddersfield, York, Brighton, Gloucester, ThessalonikiIthacaFloridaEugeneNapa, Lansing, Bethesda/Washington D.C., Boone, or find an event in your area.

Strike, Dance, Rise!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Until You Say Yes...To Not Saying Yes

Chevonea, as she probably was most days of her life: a normal teenage girl.

When I was 13, I did anything to make a boy like me. It was the beginning days of the Internet: chat rooms and MySpace were just beginning. “Sexting” was limited to social media posts and webcams. Looking back, it should have been a warning: something very uncontrollable was about to happen. We were on the edge of “striptease culture,” and there would be no going back.

Historically, the teenage years have always been about sex. For most of human history, girls have wed during their teens, quickly being introduced not only to sex, but also to its consequences: motherhood and objectification. It was simply a fact of life, in a world where most people were lucky to reach the age of 40. 

Now, what used to be a private affair has become the most public one there is. And its effects are devastating. I know because I lived it. And I wish I had been there to tell Chevonea Kendall-Bryan, the 13-year-old who fell to her death because a boy texted a photo of her performing a sex act to his friends, that one act does not define you. That being loved is not about sex; it’s about everything but sex. And that it’s okay to make a mistake.  

When I was 13, I did anything to make a boy like me. I sent nude pictures. I got on a webcam with my clothes off. I wore revealing outfits. I lost my virginity at the age of 13. I did it to be loved. Instead, they just kept coming back for more sex. It gave them power over what I did and how I felt. But it didn’t make them love me.  

Chevonea, objectified.  Is this how she saw herself?

Thirteen years have passed since then. Now, I’m with a man who loves me. He loves me with my clothes on as much as off, perhaps even more so. If we go for days or weeks without sex, he doesn’t use it against me. If I send him a nude picture, it’s a nice surprise.  

But at the end of the day, the thing he’d love to do the most is just cuddle, fully clothed, on the couch, talking about anything and everything, watching TV and laughing. In 50 years, when my body begins to fail and sex may be a thing of the past, I know he’ll still be there, cuddled up with me on the couch, laughing. He’d rather be here with me, in good times and bad, than with any other girl on the planet.

I wish Chevonea had known that kind of love. It’s the only kind really worth taking your clothes off for.

-Tiffany Rhoades
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A problem shared, a problem...doubled?

A study conducted in 2011 by psychologists from the University of Missouri found that teenage girls who talk about their problems could actually be making things worse. The six-month study questioned over 800 girls and boys to assess depression, anxiety, quality of friendships, and co-rumination–or, talking excessively about a problem.

That girls were shown to co-ruminate more than boys is unsurprising, as our society tends to encourage boys at least implicitly to suppress their feelings, whereas girl talk is actively celebrated. But could this insistence on the value of talking things over with friends be damaging? By spending a high percentage of their time focusing on their problems, girls are unintentionally elevating these issues to the forefront of their minds, which could lead to anxiety or depression.

Amanda Rose, associate professor of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri who conducted the study, has advised that girls be encouraged to engage in other positive activities such as sports to take their minds off problems they can’t control. I hope that any parents or teachers reading the study will bear in mind however that this is not proof that girl talk is bad, but that excessive girl talk could be harmful.

That isn’t a shocker. How many times, even as adults, do we obsess over a small problem only to find later that it’s either not such a huge problem, or that the solution is relatively simple? If adults can’t stop obsessing over problems, how can we expect a teenage girl to stop? Especially when they are spending a great deal of their time in high school, a building where several hundred, maybe even thousand, other teenagers have few common bonds other than age. Put a group of adults in the same situation, Robert Faris, a sociologist from UC Davis, argues, and we will see them behave in a similar way.

While I hope that girls can find other outlets for dealing with their problems, I’d hate for anyone to completely discount the value of talking over a problem with a close friend. I can’t count the numbers of times that talking with a friend has helped me. The key–and this is something we all need to learn–is to know when to stop talking.

-Sarah Jackson
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Girl in Victorian Britain

A girls' classroom.

In Victorian times a girl had few choices when it came to aspirations. The ideal Victorian woman was one who was a housewife and mother–the ‘Angel in the House.’ They did not have the same rights as men–they couldn’t vote or hold a political office: to have a view in political matters was not seen as respectable. They couldn’t divorce their husbands for anything less than abuse or incest, whereas men could initiate divorce if their wife was adulterous. Employment opportunities were limited; an unmarried woman often entered employment as a governess on a low wage, a few women emigrated, but many working class women entered the world of prostitution.

A young Victorian girl from a wealthy family would be educated at home by a governess, or they may have gone to a boarding school; either way their education would have been limited as it focused on accomplishments to make them good wives. Girls from poor families would have worked from a very young age alongside the boys in coal mines or factories and it would have been a hard life:
I start work promptly at 5:00 in the morning and work all day till 9:00 at night. That’s 16 hours! We are not allowed to talk, sit or look out of the window whilst we work. The only day off from work I get is on Sundays, when we have to go to church.  -Girl, aged 9
It wasn’t until 1870 that the Education Act was passed and schools were made available for all children aged 5-13. It was after this that some universities started to admit women and the prospects for women began to increase. The Victorian era gave way to the first wave of feminists that demanded improvements in the position of women and a fairer society. The girls of the Victorian age therefore became vital in the empowerment of women across the country and pushed Britain into the era of women’s suffrage.

-Emma Hatherall
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cookies with Mom

Girl Scout cookie boxes remind me of the lessons my mother taught me.

February 8 is National Girl Scout Cookie Day in the U.S.  My father will jump for joy at that, as it is now his favorite season: Girl Scout cookie sales season. It’s also mine, for it reminds me of my days as a Girl Scout: selling cookies, making crafts, camping–images that now grace the covers of those cookie boxes. But Girl Scouts is more than that for me. Girl Scouts is about a relationship that has been the most important in my life.

Girl Scouts wasn’t just about learning life skills or interacting with my peers. For me, it was about spending time with my greatest role model: my mother. She led my Girl Scout troop, teaching my friends and I the skills that would convince us of our self-worth. She never pushed for us to earn badges or to make tons of sales; instead, she taught us to have the courage to open ourselves up to new things.

I look at the pictures from those years, and she’s always smiling. She loved being there for us. She loved trying new things as much as we did, although I’m sure sleeping in spider-infested cabins is not one of her favorite pastimes. Regardless of her feelings, she did it. She taught me that if you step outside your comfort zone just a little, push yourself just a little harder, you might find something you enjoy, learn something that will one day be useful. And then you can step a little further. Then further still, until the world opens up before you.  

My mother initially had to force me through the door to becoming a Girl Scout. I’ll always be grateful to her for doing that; it led to a million new doors. And it introduced me to the cookies.

-Tiffany Rhoades
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A generation of lazy walkers

Photograph: Frank Baron

The Ugg boot was once seen on every woman’s foot in the high street but recently sales have started to take a dip. As much as I love a comfortable shoe I never fell wholeheartedly into the Ugg boot fad and recently, while watching BBC’s Room 101,  I was reminded about what I did not like about them–they make a lazy walker out of women. Have you too noticed that the more you wear an Ugg boot the more you are walking on the side of your foot? I have the same problem with boot slippers–they seem to slide to one side and in doing so it leads to dragging feet and a poor posture.

Does this have an effect on later life? We know that wearing the wrong size shoe or wearing heels can cause problems with the lower back. Recently there has been a course which teaches women how to walk in high heels so as not to cause any later health problems. Should there be one teaching us how to walk in Uggs as well?

Does it matter what the shoe type as to whether you are a lazy walker? My mother still shouts at me for not picking up my feet–whatever shoes I'm wearing–and for me it's worse in flat shoes. So are we doomed whether we wear flats, heels, boots, or any shoes at all? 

-Emma Hatherall
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Monday, February 4, 2013

New exhibition: Kiwi Chicks

Girl Museum is proud to launch our new community exhibition for the Art of Girlhood series, Kiwi Chicks: New Zealand Girl History/Nga Kohine Kiwi: He Hitori Taitamahine o Aotearoa. This ongoing project explores girlhood in New Zealand during the 18th-20th centuries.

In order to preserve New Zealand girl culture, this project aims to identify ‘girlhood’ objects in New Zealand museums, libraries, archives, schools, historical societies, and art galleries, and then create an exciting exhibition that informs and inspires girls of today with the stories, achievements, and struggles of yesterday’s girls, as well as reaching a general audience.

Kiwi Chicks is presented in partnership with National Services Te Paerangi.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Memories of Girlhood: Doing the Snow Dance

Growing up in Michigan, snow and ice storms could be expected at any time from late October through April. For many people, these storms mean inconvenience: it’s hard to drive in, it’s cold and wet, and certain places close due to the weather. But these things are wonderful in the eyes of a child. I could not drive, so the icy roads did not matter to me, snow is so much fun to play in, and best of all school might be cancelled! Any time there was even a chance of snow in the forecast I would hope for a snow day. I actually enjoyed going to school, but the chance to have a whole day to play out in the snow was always more appealing.

There were all sorts of myths floating around the elementary school about which snow dance worked best. Some of us flushed ice cubes down the toilet, others wore their pajamas inside out, some kids would make sure they studied extra hard and had all of their homework done to do some kind of reverse psychology on Mother Nature. I usually did a combination of those things, just to be safe.  

In the morning, one of two things would happen: Mom would come tell me to go back to sleep, or my brother and I would eat our breakfast while staring at the news channel, hoping for a late school cancellation. When the snow dances worked, the day off from school was not for relaxing. I would always get to work building a fantastic snow fort or snowman while catching snowflakes on my tongue. Sometimes friends would come over, and we would have snowball fights, followed by hot chocolate with mini marshmallows and homemade chicken noodle soup. After a few rounds of playing outside it was time to put our icy winter gear in the dryer, thaw our fingers and toes in a warm bath, and head to bed. And of course, I always did another snow dance.

-Hillary Hanel
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.