Tuesday, December 9, 2008

service learning

Here's the link to the website I made like I promised. I highly recommend viewing it in Firefox though, because it doesn't render properly in Internet Explorer. I still have some bugs to work out, sorry!


el eligado cinco

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ahh! Better late than never (I hope)

Yesterday my cousin and her roommates (two of my really good friends) were visiting and we were sitting around my kitchen table. We got onto the subject of having kids and my cousin remembered how when we were little we'd play the game Life all the time. There was one instance in which she had the misfortune of landing on every "You just had a baby!" square and ended up having so many kids that she couldn't fit them in her little plastic car. I remembered this vividly and laughed just as much as I had the night it happened, probably over ten years ago. I told everyone that she had so many plastic people that I had to take some of them in my car.
She reminded me, "Yeah, you told me, 'I'll take your dogs but you can keep all the kids in your car.'"
I suddenly remembered how normally when playing I would put my husband in a back seat and my dog would sit up front with me. As my cousin said, "She wouldn't just put the husband behind her, she'd put him waaay at the back of the car.'"
After thinking about these stories, I realized that I really have always been a feminist, even as a little girl. That's not to say that feminism is about hating men or children, but I think independence and non-conformity are both values I've always held.
This class gave me the opportunity to connect my experiences as a little girl to the feminism I celebrate today.
Like I said at the beginning of this semester, I had reservations about taking this class. I already had a busy schedule and the drive to Cocoa was not all that enticing. On top of that, girls' issues never really intrigued me. But looking back at my decision, I'm really glad I made the choice I did.
I didn't have the best time growing up and I tend to block out bad memories. But taking this class gave me a safe space in which I could revisit my childhood and teen years from a feminist lens.
I've enjoyed every women's studies course I've taken. I love being able to sit around a circle and, essentially, have a consciousness-raising session. But I think Girls' Studies is unique in its own right, for many reasons. On the one hand, it's such a new class and I think we're especially lucky to have it offered at UCF. But it also is unique in the way that it is so focused on one topic, and its one topic to which we can all relate. I loved sharing stories about grrrlhood. It's interesting to see how our unique experiences have influenced each of us, how we've all changed since those elementary/middle/even high school experiences, and how ultimately those experiences brought us to the same point in life.
Even though I learned more about my friends and became closer to them, I also learned about myself. I've been able to see how my own experiences have shaped me and I think that's made me a stronger feminist.


- Bianca

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cultural Artifact- Hannah Montana

After talking about Hannah Montana in class, I decided to watch a few shows. The first one I saw “You Are So Sue-Able to Me” I decided to do my cultural artifact paper on Hannah Montana. I already knew that so many girls absolutely adore Hannah, but I found myself aggravated by the Hannah character.

First of all, I don’t like the fact that Hannah is thin, blond, very flashy with her wardrobe, and that she wears a lot of makeup. So many people worship Hannah, but Miley, on the other hand, who is plain in her clothing, and has brown hair, is barely noticed. What does this tell young girls?
I also do not like how the Disney Company produces so many Hannah Montana products. Parents would have to struggle financially just to afford all other the CDs, DVDs, clothes, and everything else imaginable that Disney put out for them to buy. Instead of making things, like friendship bracelets, or spending time swapping clothes with friends like I did as a child, girls now are told to shop, shop, shop! And to make matters worse, all of the products are pink, purple, covered in glitter, or gold.

Girls need an alternative to Hannah Montana. Lilly is a step in the right direction with her love of skateboarding, and not to ‘girlie’ actions, but Hannah openly criticized Lilly for being different, including in this episode. Is this really the best thing for young girls to watch?


Hannah tries to make Lilly more 'girlie' in order to impress a boy...

http://video.aol.com/video-detail/hannah-montana-you-are-so-sue-able-to-me-part-2/1469712310

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ruby the 7 y.o. Feminist

This is amazing! Be sure to watch it to the end, especially for the awesome feminist song she performs;) Girls Rock!!


Monday, December 1, 2008

I Heart Blogging! Connecting Girls Studies’ Voices to T&T


As many of you know, I am working on my PhD in Texts and Technology (T&T)—an English degree at UCF. While I have played with social networks and blogs in my personal and professional spaces for some time, I only recently found theoretical homes for the work I have been doing. As part of my theory-based Introduction to Texts and Technology course, I decided to utilize our Girls Studies blog as part of my "Digital Artifact" assignment. The assignment asks us to:
…design, produce, create, modify, or otherwise bring into being an artifact that makes a point about relationships between texts and technologies. […] The object must include new media tools, connect in some way to class readings and discussions, demonstrate relationships between texts and technology, and be thought-provoking. (Bowdon)
I created our Girls Studies blog as part of a Summer assignment that inspired me to take online class discussions out of closed, password-protected forums and into more open spaces. The nature of Girls Studies makes it an appropriate place to experiment with blogs because girls are frequently engaged with electronic spaces like blogs, social networks, and other multi-user domains (MUDs). I try to connect my teaching practices with course content as much as possible, and this was a prime opportunity. Many of you (my Girls Studies' students) expressed that you enjoyed the blogs and found unique opportunities to express yourselves here. You have also expressed a desire to continue participating with the blog after the semester ends. This was my goal--to engage you and others interested in Girls Studies (particularly/hopefully girls themselves) with this blog beyond class requirements. Because, as we have learned from our class discussions, the issues raised in Girls Studies impact us daily—as women, as individuals, as ex-girls, and as potential parents of future girls (and boys!).


I look forward to the potential this blog holds for each of you, for students of Girls Studies in future classes, and for others who find our blog via various avenues. I have included quotes from each of the theorists I have read in my Introduction to Texts and Technology course that relate to blogs. Some of these writers speak about blogs specifically but most of them address technology in a broader sense applicable to our use of technology through this Girls Studies blog. A couple quotes are countered by the power and potential of blogs, while others direct us to this power. I hope you will find this blog entry relevant to the work you have done here and that these quotes will inspire you to continue participating in a technological culture where your voice is central—where you are a creator, a producer, and participant of technological culture rather than a mere consumer.

What do/did they know about blogging? More than we might realize…
What did they imagine?
What do you imagine??
BecauseWe are the future of technology.

This is (y)our revolution.
Sincerely,Your Teacher

"The Internet is another element of the computer culture that has contributed to thinking about identity as multiplicity. On it, people are able to build a self by cycling through many selves" (Turkle 178).
"A new form of 'politics' is emerging, and in ways we haven't yet noticed. The living room has become a voting booth. Participation via television in Freedom Marches, in war, revolution, pollution, and other events is changing everything" (McLuhan 22).
"The new medium compels us to acknowledge that all previous forms of writing are as much technologies as fully computerized hypertext—that writing itself is not merely influenced by technology, but rather is technology" (Bolter 239).
"…what if television, playing video games, and surfing the Web are actually good for you? What if exercising the modes of cognition demanded by visually sophisticated video game and Web environments could actually increase one's intelligence?" (O'Gorman 72)
Language is the tool of human self-construction, that which cuts us off from the garden of mute and dumb animals and leads us to name things, to force meanings, to create oppositions, and so craft human culture" (Haraway 81)

[Ong articulating Plato's charges against writing and, by extension, computers] "a written text is basically unresponsive. If you ask a person to explain his or her statement, you can get an explanation; if you ask a text, you get back nothing except the same, often stupid, words which called for your question in the first place. [] Writing is passive, out of it, in an unreal, unnatural world. So are computers. (Ong 79)
"I have proposed the term "democratic rationalization" to signify user interventions that challenge undemocratic power structures rooted in modern technology" (Feenberg 108).
"…in the United States, blogs have taken on a very different character. There are some who use the space simply to talk about there private life. But there are many who use the space to engage in public discourse. Discussing matters of public import, criticizing others who are mistaken in their views, criticizing politicians about the decisions they make, offering solutions to problems we all see: blogs create the sense of a virtual public meeting, but one in which we don't all hope to be there at the same time and in which conversations are not necessarily linked" (Lessig 41).
"The computer is providing us with a new stage for the creation of participatory theater. [] The more persuasive the sensory representation of the digital space, the more we feel that we are present in the virtual world" (Murray 125).
"Fifteen years ago in popular culture, people were just getting used to the idea that computers could project and extend a person's intellect. Today people are embracing the notion that computers may extend an individual's physical presence" (Turkle 20)
"The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village" (McLuhan 67).
"Blog space gives amateurs a way to enter the debate—'amateur' not in the sense of inexperiences, but […] meaning not paid by anyone to give their reports. It allows for a much broader range of input into a story…" (Lessig 44).
"In an electronic information environment, minority groups can no longer be contained—ignored. Too many people know too much about each other. Our new environment compels commitment and participation. We have become irrevocably involved with, and responsible for, each other" (McLuhan 24).
"The transformative power of the computer is particularly seductive in narrative environments" (Murray 154).
"Technology has […] given us an opportunity to do something with culture that has only ever been possible for individuals in small groups, isolated from others. Think about an old man telling a story to a collection of neighbors in a small town. Now imagine that same storytelling extended across the globe" (Lessig 185).
"One important method of making systems easier to learn and to use is to make them explorable, to encourage the user to experiment and learn the possibilities through active exploration" (Norman 183).
"…this book is for those who are concerned about the future of [education] in a digital culture, and who seek to resist the dehumanization of higher education, which is carried out blindly in the name of 'technological process' (O'Gorman xvii).
"As human beings become increasingly intertwined with the technology and with each other via the technology, old distinctions between what is specifically human and what is specifically technological become more complex. Are we living life on the screen or life in the screen. Our new technologically enmeshed relationships oblige us to ask to what extent we ourselves have become cyborgs, transgressive mixtures of biology, technology, and code. The traditional distance between people and machines has become harder to maintain" (Turkle 21).
"The best of blog entries are relatively short; they point directly to words used by others, criticizing with or adding to them. They are arguably the most important form of unchoreographed public discourse that we have" (Lessig 41).
"Web-based distance education has already changed the way we understand the university, but it has simply transposed print-centric habits (with varied success) into new learning space. I believe that the transformation of the academic apparatus is most likely to occur by means of physical agents that engage directly with the traditional material structures of learning, from the essay, to the classroom, to the entire campus itself" (O'Gorman 103).
"When we step through the screen into virtual communities, we reconstruct our identities on the other side of the looking glass. This reconstruction is our cultural work-in-progress" (Turkle 177).
"To change the material artifact is to transform the context and circumstances for interacting with the words, which inevitably changes the meanings of the words as well. This transformation of meaning is especially potent when the words reflexively interact with the inscription technologies that produce them" (Hayles 24).
"The fundamental problem of democracy today is quite simply the survival of agency in this increasingly technocratic universe." (Feenberg 1o1)
"An emergent property, materiality depends on how the work mobilizes its resources as a physical artifact as well as on the users interactions with the work and the interpretive strategies she develops—strategies that include physical manipulations as well as conceptual frameworks" (Hayles 33).
"Writing had reconstituted the originally oral, spoken word in visual space. Print embedded the word in space more definitively" (Ong 123).
"The solution now is to find radical political resources immanent to technologically advanced societies" (Feenberg 108).
"It is not a matter of emancipating truth from every system of power […] but of detaching the power of truth from the forms of hegemony, social, economic, and cultural, within which it operates at the present time" (Foucault 75).
"The Internet has become a significant social laboratory for experimenting with the constructions and reconstructions of self that characterize postmodern life. In its virtual reality, we self-fashion and self-create" (Turkle 180).
"The more realized the immersive environment, the more active we want to be within it. When the things we do bring tangible results, we experience the second characteristic delight of electronic environmentsthe sense of agency" (Murray 126).

These Quotes Were Lifted From the Following:
Bolter, Jay David. Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing. NewJersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., 1991.
Feenberg, Andrew. Questioning Technology. New York: Routledge, 1999.
Hayles, Katherine N. Writing Machines. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2002.
Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture. New York: The Penguin Press, 2004.
O'Gorman, Marcel. E-Crit Digital Media Critical Theory and The Humanities. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.
Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy. New York: Methuen & Co., 1982.
McLuhan, Marshall. The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. New York: Bantam Books, 1967.
Murray, Janet H. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: The Free Press, 1997.
Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Rabinow, Paul, Ed. The Foucault Reader. New York: Pantheon Books, 1984.

Better late than never ; )

When I tell people about Girls Studies the class, a lot of womyn respond, 'O so basically we all should have had that class during middle school.' It's pretty messed up that girls are purposely cut off from a lot of the information we got to ingest this semester. A lot of the authors in our texts would talk about girls' sexuality and comment that in our culture, or in most cultures, girls supposedly have no sexuality. I caught myself feeling a little uncomfortable about thinking about the fact that twelve-year-old are sexual people, even though I've been really aware of my own sexuality since preschool, no joke.

I'm grateful for late night sleepover conversations when my middle school friends and I talked about taboo topics, but it would have understood myself and been so much more confident if I had been able to talk about sexuality openly. I really appreciate the research that contributors to our texts did on girls' perceptions of sexuality in media and in their lives. Also, discussing the sexual stereotypes that are placed on girls has been really useful to me. From my experience growing up, most of the time I felt that I belonged to one category of girl: the good girl. The reputation followed me, so I either upheld it or every now and then fought to break it down.

For me, doing theatre was an important place where I could step outside of the stereotype that I lived, and be a person who was proud and loud about sexuality. From our readings and online assignments, it seems like a lot of girls find the internet as a place where they can explore who they are and who they want to be and discuss with other girls.

I notice that I still find my self stepping in and out of the good girl stereotype in my head. When I begin to discuss sexuality with people I knew growing up, I catch myself thinking, is it OK for me (a good girl) to be talking about this? I have to remind myself that I'm a woman and I'm allowed to have a sexuality. So I guess I'm still internalizing lessons I picked up from this class. A girl doesn't need to become a woman to claim her right to sexual independence. Our society's rules for girls behavior are harmful, and I would like us to all have the opportunity to learn to ignore them. Also, I'm sad that this class is over.

Hey Ladies!

So looking back on this past semester, I really didn’t realize how much that I have learned until I sit down to think about it. Throughout Girls Studies, I have subtly gained knowledge that I can carry and pass on to everyone in my life. Thinking all the way to the beginning, I remember looking at a video on advertising and how over sexualized womyn are portrayed in the media, and how young girls see this and think this is how they are supposed to be. This class allowed me to reflect on my own childhood and think back on things that I thought or did because I saw them in magazines or on TV and I wanted to be beautiful like those womyn. And still today, it is difficult just how it was in middle and high school to see these “perfect” womyn constantly thrown in your face, and realizing that you don’t look like them, and most likely never will. But now I do have Feminism, and now I realize that people are airbrushed, and that a very low percentage of womyn actually do have the bodies that are shown. Before this class I never really thought about younger girls to be honest. I never thought about the giant impact that the media does play on a young girl’s outlook on life and herself. Now that I recognize this it really frustrates me because anorexia, bulimia, and drug use of grrrls and womyn could completely get eliminated if we weren’t exposed to the pressure at young ages of trying to look perfect, and be this feminine being that is so closely linked to Barbie.

This class has allowed me to fully evaluate our society and the principles that are installed in our minds throughout our childhood that move onto our adulthood. Again, it is so aggravating because you see it everywhere you go. Whether you’re watching TV or looking at your own family structure. What we are taught in the very beginning of our lives never leaves us. We might not remember learning how little grrrls or boys are supposed to act, but we will most likely follow suit and not even know why. That is what this class has really opened my eyes to. I know society is screwed up and it has helped to screw up many people, but to look back and analyze when this all came about is sickening, because we had our lives planned out before we even came out of the womb. The minute “you’re having a grrrl” was announced minds were made up on how to raise this child and the kind of life she will have.

So yes, Womyn Studies is of course awesome, but Grrrls Studies gets down to the core root and brings you back to how you used to think, and why you did things the way you did. This class was remarkable, and I definitely advise everyone to take it. I had so much fun, and I know everyone else did as well! :)

.::Andrea::.

It is soo much more than Spice Girls

I am a grrrl, we are all grrrls! That is something I have become comfortable calling myself and others. Before this class, grrrl seemed like an insult, inferring that someone is young, immature, naive and most of all underestimated. This class has shown me the power of grrrls and the power for us to identify as them! Through the readings, class and my service learning I have experienced the potential and ability that grrls have today and that they are using their power more than ever, like with blogging. This has been a really cool outlet for discussion, I never did it before but really enjoy the style of it, and its another way for grrrls to alternatively get their voices heard. Grrrls today seem to already have the critical eye for conscious raising and culture jamming and it amazes me to see their accomplishments. If people only knew this, and the difficulties it is to be a grrrl today, they would give them a lot more credit.

I am so glad that I got to be in this class at the begginning and got to know all the intelligent and just plain awesome grrrls. Before and after every class I have gotten to look back at grrrlhood and those car rides and discussions have also been one some of the greatest parts. Exploring websites like gurl.com and taking quizzes about how much i really know about feminism or STDs made me go back in time but also see how things have developed to educate grrls about difficult topics but in a comfortable and fun atmosphere. Also with my service learning and interacting with young girls I was able to see first hand at what grrrls are learning and dealing with in society. The whole combination of face to face discussion, to activism and blogging made this an experience more than just a class. I know I sound sentimental, but I wish all my classes were this close and genuinely interesting like ours. I cannot wait for more courses like this and to continue the bond of being the guinea pigs of Grrrls Studies at UCF <3

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Reflection

I was definitely glad to see that our professor, the lovely Leandra Preston, aka Leila, decided that we should conduct our our posting on a blog as opposed to communicating over WebCT, (which I support because my.ucf applications are a tedious excuse for social networking.) So when it asked me to sign into my account. I figured I must have had an account, and to my surprise my e-mail search results yielded to me my short-lived but memory-packed blog from high school. I was quite surprised, and happy, with my 17-year old writings and rants. 17 was not that long ago, but from the perspective of girlhood and growing up, the surprising difference was... a pleasant surprise. It was almost like a small gift that went along with the course- Girls Studies and here, your blog from when you were still a girl in high school. The class itself was quite a profound experience, also an unexpected surprise. As I mention in my service learning reflection, it was/is awesome to see, hear about, and realize the common experiences and hardships we face and share as girls. In the introduction to another text book, Women's Lives a Multicultural Perspective, they say that womens studies course delve into "every day" behavior, and makes one stop and look back on one's past, and to analyze it critically within feminist discourse, and therefore womens studies almost becomes like therapy. Not only was the in-class discussion and online blog posting beneficial in these aspects, to heal and celebrate our own past, but also to create a solidarity amongst the (amaaazing) gurls in our feminist community. I will miss our carpool meetups and taco-bell drive thru's, and the rides home jam-packed with course-related discussion!

I think we all got a lot out of this class, (especially upset stomachs from crunch-wrap supremes and friendships <3) and I hope to continue such experiences (minus the farting) in other classes under the GS certificate (!)

take only photos and leave only footprints

I chose this title because throughout this semester I have felt like the grrrlz studies class has been sacred ground for us. In the times leading up to class we do readings which expand our minds and make us think critically. When we can’t be together in person we use new age communicative tools (the interwebz) to keep in touch with one another. And right before class we come together to share what we have learned. And we always leave with newfound information that makes us all the wiser. I know that I for one will try to continue my foray into grrrlz studies because I feel after our months together I’m still not finished. While taking this course I found that I still have residual growing pains left over from adolescence and that until I get over them I won’t be able to completely understand grrrlz studies. I learned so much from this course about how to speak with grrrlz and how to relate to them. However, in my actual interactions with grrrlz I found myself falling short. And I think this is because I felt put back in that old awkward situation of judgment and a need to prove myself. I think my favorite part of this class was listening to everyone during their lead discussions. I felt like we all had something important to bring to this new adventure and I was always excited to come to class and listen/reflect. I fully appreciated how we not only focused on problems and issues within grrrlhood but also solutions. This was another favorite part for me because I love thinking about how to make things better. I also absolutely loved how we used the blog to keep our class together. I think it is important that when going dissecting a culture you use their tools to dissect. And after many of our readings I see how important technology and anonymity through the internet has influenced today’s grrrlz. I hope that we can all keep using this blog whenever we find relevant things or just want to catch up with one another. I feel like we have all bonded this semester through education and personal stories. I am really going to miss this class and hope to see all of you next year !!!

Grrrl, I love you!

I don't really know how to convey how amazing of a class Girls Studies has been for me. This post isn't going to do it justice and is going to be all over the place.

I was not initially registered in the course. I didn't want to go all the way to Cocoa and a million other excuses as to why I should be in another class instead, all rebutted by my friends who were taking the class and swore that I would love it and needed to switch into it immediately. Part of the reason that I caved was because of how many amazing women that I knew were taking the course and how great I knew the discussions would be as a result.

What can I say? Y'all proved me right. All of the women that I already knew and whom (who? that?) I'm glad that I know now consistently had such unique and fascinating stories, arguments, and ideas that sometimes the continuing discussion on the ride home wasn't even enough for me. Maybe I'm overzealous. I was always excited for every other Wednesday night to hear what everyone had to say. Everyone was so passionately engaged in what was going on. I've never seen another Women's Studies class, or feminist space in general, like it.

What exactly IS girlhood? Did we all experience the same thing, along with all of the authors in the texts and the girls and women in the movies or did we all have crazy different experiences that we choose to lump together as same? I have no idea. I related a lot and I didn't relate a lot.

Either way, why is this the first place that we've really delved this deep into discussing girlhood? I didn't even realize it until taking the course. I am constantly talking about and deconstructing what it means to be a woman, but never until Girls Studies, did I discuss so much what it means to be a girl.

The discussions were AMAZING. Sitting in a circle, discussing things the way that we did, is how I wish every class was. I've seen attempts at it in other classes fall flat, but everything came together perfectly in that room, somehow. I learned and thought and connected so much, I don't know where to start or how to convey it in a blog. I didn't memorize and regurgitate material. I critically thought and grew as a person and I can carry that with me.

How do we create a better culture for girls? We're doing it and going to do it. I especially enjoyed hearing from the women in YWLP. They're really doing feminism, whether it's called such or not, and actively and tangibly improving the lives of girls.

I loved having a woman-only space to talk about these issues. I love talking about feminism and women and girls' issues with men and I love feminist men, but the dynamics of when it's just women are so different. For this class, it worked. It would have been fabulous to have men in the class too, but it would have been different.

Can we just keep holding class?!

Remembering Grrrlhood

I have been putting off writing this blog until I could find the right words to describe our Girls' Studies class, yet it's hard to articulate such a powerful experience in a few short paragraphs. I was nervous about first beginning the class because I only knew a few other women who would be taking it, and I wasn't sure how I would relate to the other women enrolled. I was confident in my feminism yet knew I had much to learn, and this class was the perfect answer. Not only did I meet some of the most incredible, inspirational women I have ever been blessed to know, but I also learned a great deal about myself and the young girls in my life. Through the texts we read, my knowledge about feminist theory in relation to girlhood was greatly expanded upon, especially about the two main constructions of girlhood currently debated within the scholarly realm, that of the drowning Ophelia and of the consumer-driven "Girl Power!" tween. More importantly, however, I learned how no girl fits neatly into either one of these categories, and how it is imperative that we as feminist scholars recognize the individuality of every girl and her experience, and never silence her voice.

It is through the voices of girls that their experiences can be known, and the greatest lesson I learned through Girls' Studies is never to silence a girl, or to speak vicariously through her. We must also never let our own experiences and memories dictate the girlhood of our sisters. Girls are our future, and it is through their work and ours that a truly feminist world can be achieved. I was lucky enough to be able to experience their strength and power as a YWLP facilitator this semester, and it was amazing to be able to utilize what I learned through Girls' Studies while instructing middle school girls. Though we cannot use any political terminology like feminism with the YWLP girls, our lessons were all based on feminist principle, and I felt as though every week I met with the girls, I could relate Girls' Studies to our lesson, and vice versa. Through this experience, I was finally able to understand the importance of applying theory to activism, and the reality of living feminism.

I would recommend Girls' Studies to anyone with a young girl in their life, or to anyone who wishes to understand feminism on an even broader scale. It was an absolutely incredible class, and I cannot thank my professor or classmates more. You all make me proud to know you, and I cannot wait to see the grrrls of today become the women of our future!

Women Rock!

When I first walked into class, I instantly realized how we all looked very different in the way we dressed and acted. Although it is always more comfortable to be around people like yourself, I quickly came to the conclusion that we were actually quite similar in our beliefs about how women should be treated. I found myself nodding with what everyone said as a response to our assigned reading. I enjoyed having the ability to laugh with the person next to me, or whisper about parts of the movie we watched. Overall, I enjoyed being around so many women. Everyone was so kind, open, and approachable. Besides all of the useful information I learned about girlhood and girl power, I learned that sharing experiences and thoughts with other women is a wonderful thing!

I walk away with more than I came with

I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful this class was. Going to class was so enjoyable because I knew I would be surrounded by such amazing women/girls. Personally this class made me reminisce upon the trials and tribulations of my girlhood and engaged my interest in the current/future generations of girls so much more. My favorite part of this class was the service learning portion. It felt so good to actually get out there and apply what we talk about in class. It was so inspiring to see girls so much more informed than I was at their age. It gave me hope that they can conquer their battles with body image, gender issues, sexuality, boys, and all they must deal with. Also, it’s comforting to know that everyone I sit in class with has gone their own version of girlhood (whether enjoyable or less) and you have all turned out to be amazing women with powerful intelligent opinions. I also thoroughly enjoyed our discussion on the term "girl power." I fully plan to reinvent the word to portray a positive powerful image that girls can really embrace. The think the concept is amazing; its definition just needs some tweaking. This was my favorite women’s studies class I have taken yet, and because of discussions and projects performed during it I have decided to try and be a Girl Scout troop leader next semester.

Reflective Blog

This semester has gone by so fast, and I can’t believe this is our last blog (for the class). I wish other classes I have taken went by as quick as this one did. Originally, I was a little hesitant to sign up for this class. I was not sure what exactly it would be like, or what it would involve. As I had said in the previous blogs, I have never taken a women’s studies class, and I thought for my last semester it would be something different to try. I feel like I got so much out of this class. It was incredibly interesting to hear what everyone had to say each week about the discussion topics. It was nice going to class and not having to worry about knowing enough about the topics or making sure you understand everything in the book, because everyone to could relate to the topics and could explain their opinions on each issue. It made class fun and interesting to be able to share stories and hear what other girls have gone through in their lives. I feel like I have a better understanding of girlhood after reading the texts and doing the class projects. Even though we all went through it already, seeing the websites and magazines that girls have for them today seem like great learning material for girls these days. It would have been nice if some of those were around a few years ago when I was growing up, or if I had someone to tell me about the stuff that was out there for young girls. This class has really helped me to see ways to empower girls and to learn how to minimize threats that girls face in their everyday lives. I am so glad I decided to take this class, it was such a good experience and I feel like I learned so much more than could be taught in a book alone.

Girls Studies shouldn't have to be online!

When Meredith Tweed, my Intro to Women's Studies professor, told me that Girls Studies would be offered in Fall 2008, I knew I had to take it. But when I found out it would be offered at a campus that was a 45 minute drive from the UCF main campus, I decided it would be too much of a hassle. However, after talking to some of the other girls who were registered for the class and hearing about possible car pool arrangements, I ultimately decided to take the course.

And I'm glad I did! Girls studies has heightened my awareness of the unique issues that girls have to deal with and their relation to feminism. Before I took this class, I had little knowledge of these issues. As a feminist and women's studies minor, I had read feminist literature and taken women's studies classes, but none of them had covered the issues of girls. This class is essential to any feminist's education and should be a required class for the women's studies major (and possibly the minor).

It makes me sad that this class has to be online from now on. One of my favorite parts of the course were the class discussions we had. Getting to know my class mates and hearing their views and personal experiences made the course particularly enlightening and enjoyable. Budget cuts are a drag, but maybe we can fundraise as a department? Or maybe we can write a letter to the administration, President Hitt, or whoever is in charge of funding for departments? While I'm glad we will continue to offer the course, a student taking the class face to face would get a lot more out of it than if they were just staring at a computer screen.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I <3 Girls Studies

As a Women’s Studies major, and as a feminist, most of my time and energy is spent trying to improve the lives of women. Girls Studies was different for me because instead of fighting for all women, we got to focus on girls. It was an interesting and exciting for me, mostly because many of my family members who I am close to are young girls. It is hard to see them struggle in the world today. They are taught to be “good,” but still attractive to boys. They are taught to buy buy buy! They are taught to be straight, white, and quiet. A lot of time I wish I could offer them feminism as a solution to some of their problems. This class helped me to identify the resources I could use to give feminism to the younger women in my life. As a die-hard Spice Girls fan (theirs was the first concert I ever went to) it was hard for me to deny that “Girl Power” was a real source of strength. But this class has given me other sources of strength for young girls, like New Moon magazine and websites like gurl.com. Although Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia had it wrong to assume that all girls are helpless and drowning, she made a good point when she said, “What can we do to help them? We can strengthen girls so that they will be ready. We can encourage emotional toughness and self-protection. We can support and guide them. But most important, we can change our culture.” I think that learning about the unique challenges girls face in classes such as this, we can counteract these certain problems with certain solutions. This class was a place to identify problems in our society that affect young girls and brainstorm solutions for these problems. After studying the hardships that girls face in our culture, it makes me believe in programs like YWLP even more. I really and truly believe that programs like this one can make girls strong. With a focus on competence, connection, and autonomy, girls in the program are taught that they can be strong, smart, and independent, but that they can rely on other women in their lives. Teaching these kinds of values and ways of thinking to girls is a great way to instill feminist values in a new generation of women. I am so proud that I attend UCF because of classes like this one and programs such as YWLP!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thank You!

Girls’ Studies has been an interesting class for me, and most definitely a learning experience; coming into it, I was uncomfortable being surrounded by so many women who are so passionate about Feminism, something which I felt very uneasy identifying with. When I really stopped to analyze my discomfort, I found that its root was in the image of Feminism, not with the principles, which I, for the most part, agree with. I think the image of Feminism, like any other image, often prevents people from really trying to understand the philosophy and belief system. Not really having much previous interaction with “radical feminists,” I bought into the stereotype and feared that a bunch of angry girls were going to cast me out of the group because I wear make-up, or wear high-heels. I will admit that it was really threatening to me to be in a class, or car, full of people who I perceived to be so different from me. I am not a confrontational person, and I fear being judged (although, it is judgmental of me to assume that any of the girls in the class would judge me); especially in the political climate which was so heated at the start of our semester, I felt that there was no way I could fit in. Wrong. I am sorry to all of the smart, powerful, beautiful, and funny people in our class for having so many pre-conceived notions, and for assuming that you wouldn’t be inviting. This has been one of the best dynamics I have ever encountered in a class; I really feel like everyone has really embraced everyone else, no matter what their beliefs or outward appearance. Reading, discussing, laughing, and crying with all of you about our own experiences of being a girl, as well as the experiences of others, has not only been extremely cathartic, but also really eye-opening. I feel much more comfortable communicating with younger girls because of this class, and feel more in touch with things that I have both struggled with and overcome. We are all so incredible, and I thank you all for making this such a great experience!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm Just A Girl

I remember last fall semester Kathryn telling me that there was going to be a new awesome women’s studies class offered in Cocoa and that we have to take it. When it came time to register for fall classes I immediately signed up for it, I did not even read the course description. I decided to look the course description up now to see what it actually says,

“Girls' Studies, an emerging field within Women's Studies, focuses on the material experiences of girls in U.S. and global cultures using academic and popular texts.”

Honestly, that does not even begin to give it justice. For me girls’ studies was so much more than focusing “on the material experiences of girls.” It was an opportunity to dissect how society and our culture constructs girlhood and relate it back to our own experiences.

While women’s studies allowed me to learn about the struggles I might be facing now or in the future, girls’ studies gave me answers to the struggles I faced as a girl.

The most exciting part of this class was just knowing that I was not alone. Girlhood is a scary, stressful, and confusing time now days and you can’t help but think that you are alone and no one else knows what you are going through. This class allowed us to have such an open and safe environment for us to share our experiences and the struggles we faced during girlhood. From toxic friends, to periods, to body image issues we were all able to relate to this class and our text.

One of my favorite things about this class was looking at all the great activism that young girls do now days. I can’t help but be envious of these little feminist girls who help write New Moon or the Youth Together Against AIDS group. Gosh when I was a young girl I was too busy focusing on what to wear. I only wish that I had some idea as to what feminism was.

My only one complaint about text for this class was the emphasis on the Spice Girls. Yes the Spice Girls were popular. Yes they did the whole Girl Power thing. But there are other popular girl bands besides them. While No Doubt may only have one girl in the band, she is the lead singer and she writes some awesome songs. Who didn’t drive around blasting “I’m Just A Girl” in the 90’s? I mean I still do it. I wish they would have mentioned that song rather than spending five chapters on the Spice Girls.

Being a girl is a wonderful thing and our society doesn’t seem to give it the respect that it deserves. After this class I’m proud to be a girl. As I said in my first post, I still can’t seem to identify as a “woman”-but I’m fine with that now. I never want to stop being a GRRRL!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Girl Talkkkkk!

My time in Girl's Studies enhanced the relationship that I shared with my "little sister" this semester. Not only did I regain an understanding of my own upbringing as a girl, but I felt as though I could offer something unique to my little sister because of it.

Our class time talking about periods and prom may have just seemed like a series of short, personal stories, but amounted to a group of womyn rediscovering the intricacies of their bodies and minds as a girl. While I've never discussed sex, prom or periods with my little sister, the subtleties of these subjects and the insight I gained from every one in the course made for more intimate conversations that allowed a more natural form of sharing with my little sister, whether it was about eating an alternative diet or music about "serious stuff", it was cool.

One of the weirdest and most unexpected things that I got out of the course was my evaluation of my self as a "rebellious teen". I thought about the ways that I used to communicate with my parents and express my individuality. As for every girl (or at least it seems), those are desperate times. "I can't wear my dead milkmen shirt to school?! God mom, I hate you!" and then you sneak it in your backpack just so you can "truly express yourself". I'm not mocking these situations at all, but I see them happen with my little sister who is very conscious of her fashion sense and how she looks, but she is simultaneously so confident and patient with her growing self. So, I think I've taken with me a sense of pride in the awkward, horrible time which seemed to dominate my mindset for a long while. It seems, after reading and discussing, that if those times never occurred or were made so dramatic, that I wouldn't know who I was today. That's the moral of the class, I think, is to understand that aspect of you life as forever with you and forever changing, but never insignificant enough to not recognize as a social impression, a societal observance, a cultural tracking device...really beautiful.

So yeah, Girl's Studies is pretty cool.

P.S.- for those of you who are interested in the life of Randy of Acorn Falls in the story "Girl Talk: Rebel, Rebel", I was thinking we could all either carpool together next class or maybe just read the final chapter as a class. If not, I'll just inform you of all the juicy details of Shrek and the crew!

hearts and stars-
jill.

End of Semester!

I really enjoyed girl studies this semester. I took it as a class just to fill up one of my last electives for my last semester and it ended up being my favorite women’s studies course! I was taking women’s heath issue for my last women studies minor and I really hated it, it will be really cool when classes like girl studies can cut out some of those classes that aren’t exactly women’s studies geared. For example women’s health issues was a nursing course and I found it hard to understand because it was designed for nurses to take. Girl studies was great because it was so largely discussion based and I feel like I learn so much more when I’m actively participating in the coursework and not just listening to a lecture. I also thought the blogging portion was really cool; I had never blogged before so I was really interested and surprised when a feminist author commented on our blog. The internet is such a great tool for this course. Girls spend a lot of time online these days so incorporating the internet and websites in this course really connects to girl culture.
My favorite parts were exploring the websites like new moon and scarlateen. Immersing into girl culture was a really good way to see what girls were doing and going through today. The political sites for girls were also a fun part, it was so exciting to see girls involved in activism from such a young age. I have to say parts of the texts were a bit boring, but I did enjoy the spice girls articles and the postings where they interviewed real girls and discussed it. I’m just excited to continue with the blog and keep what I learned to focus on mental health counseling in graduate school.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Playing with the boys

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081117/sp_wl_afp/lifestylejapansportsbaseball_081117063048

this is an article about a 16 year old girl drafted to play pro baseball in Japan, i couldnt help but think "Go Girl!" when i read it. just wanted to share.

Girls' Voices

This week my fourteen-year-old cousin, Mary, came down from Michigan to stay with me. Some of you had the pleasure of meeting her :). I would definitely have to say that although we spend a significant amount of time together throughout the year, this week of being together 24-7 really taught me a lot about girlhood and reminded me of how life was when I was fourteen. One thing I was reminded of is that sometimes girls just plain don’t want to talk. They may have a problem they need to address but don’t want to chat about it. Instead, they must get their feelings across in other ways.

I think that it is really important for girls to be able to express themselves in many different formats and outlets. Cultural productions like New Moon really give girls a place to speak their minds about issues in a different way than everyway life. Sometimes girls have a lot of things on their mind, but they don’t want to talk about them. Sometimes they would rather write or draw to express themselves. I know that this is true for my “Little Sister” in YWLP. She has told me before that when she gets upset she does art to get out all of her frustrations. I think New Moon is great because someone like my Little Sister can share her feelings to other girls through a different medium other than just talking.

My cousin doesn’t do art like my Little Sister, but instead is a writer. She often writes short stories. I truly believe that when she creates different characters and scenarios, she is actually expressing problems she has in her own life. Being able to write a story about someone with a different name but then sharing it with others eliminates any embarrassment young girls may have about their own problem or situation. Plus, she can write a story that begins in a way her own life begins, but then she has the creative ability to change the end of the story. Maybe this means in her real life she cannot solve her problems because they are out of her control, but in her stories she can make her own Happily Ever After. I think having this kind of control and power makes girls feel strong and positive. With this kind of positive attitude it is possible that girls with have the self-esteem to start solving problems and overcoming adversity.

I wish I had these when I was younger!!!

All of the websites were really cool, but my favorites were New Global Citizen and Girls Inc. New Global is definitely awesome, because if you are young and want to get involved with world issues and actually make a difference, than this is totally it. I wish I had known about this several years ago so that I could've gotten involved, because I was always interested in something like this. Also, Girls Inc. was good too, because it gave links to multiple sites that are other Feminist sites. I really wish that these sites were more well-known than what they are. It's just really unfortunate that it takes this class for me to experience them, so how are younger girls getting exposed to them? It would be so perfect if these sites were advertised in magazines like CosmoGirl, YM, or even like American Girl, and whatever else these kids read these days. That way when you're flipping through a magazine that is overpopulated with useless things in life, than you can see an ad for any of these empowering, informative sites.

Kid activists

So, I have to admit I'm a little bitter when looking at these websites. I wish so badly that I'd been aware of alternative magazines/websites, especially sites as cool as these while I was growing up. When I was really young, I read Highlights Magazine and this other science-y mag, but unfortunately by the time I was 12, only Girls' Life interested me.
Anyway, that being said, my favorite of the sites was New Global Citizens. I like it because it not only empowers boys and grrrls, but it encourages kids to go out and help others too. As a kid, you always hear all this rhetoric about "volunteering in your community," but I can say that it never meant much to me. But seeing something like this that provides an easy way for KIDS to be ACTIVISTS - it's just awesome. The smartest thing New Global Citizens does, I think, is include links to facebook, myspace and other social networking sites - thus, making it even easier for kids to be involved.
I kinda wish I were in high school so that I could start up my own "team."

- Bianca

Beautiful Grrrls

I came across the section Beautiful Girls on the New Moon website, and reading some of their stories made me smile and have hope that girls aren't just falling into the media/societies trap of conventional beauty. These girls are saying I am different because of this, I may get made fun of, but I know my worth and I am confident in me, and to have that knowledge of self worth at a young age is awesome, especially if you keep it growing up. Young kids have a way of saying things so blunt and honest that is so refreshing.
What is also refreshing is to see the Girl's Bill of Rights form the Girls Inc page. It was also fun to see the version from 1945 which is about girls doing things freely but wholesome and with some insinuation that women will all be mothers someday. Todays version is about doing away with stereotypes in gender, the workplace, success and others. I don't know if girls themselves made this, that would be even better, and I wonder if they modify the list every so often or can take new suggestions to be put in. And Girls Inc has action campaigns but i enjoyed reading some of the Free Child Project, especially Girls Action Media which is working with girls and their everyday struggles that are more specific to them and their lives and giving them outlets to express what is going on in their lives.
Seeing the opportunities girls have to get involved is just really cool, and looking at these websites and seeing these girls makes me smile that they are getting into creative outlets and using the internet to empower themselves and girls around them. Oh and Ask a Girl on new moon just shows how many similar questions/problems girls go through. I think that by expressing girls similarities rather than their differences, and pitting them against each other, is one of the best ways to get girls together, connected and working towards change. Who knows better than a girl going through the same thing:

Ask a Girl,
I like this guy Jesse, but as I wrote in a recent letter, I never see him. Now whenever I see the name Jesse I feel like I'm about to cry because I miss him so much. I feel so stupid! Is there something wrong with me??
Cozette, 12
Pennsylvania

Dear Cozette,
there is nothing wrong with you! I am going to face the saame challenges because i am leaving my school behind. My crush's name is common and i see it everywhere, so I even feel that way now. Cry whenever you feel like it. It's normal to cry.
Mikhaila, 13
California

i <3 new moon

Ahhh this is like the eight millionth time this semester I have looked at the New Moon website and it never fails to make me soso happy. I had a semi-deificult time this semester finding grrrlz that would be willing to participate in Ashley and my Service Learning project so it is always really inspiring to look at something like New Moon and see that there are grrrlz out there who do care. However, the one thing I always wish had been different with New Moon is that it would be less adult run.
So, when i saw the Free Child Project site I was really excited because in their about us section they specifically state how they are combating adultism which is something that I feel is one of the sections of Girls Studies that doesn't get mentioned too much. Many of the readings talk about how grrrlz are obviously oppressed and all of the different things that go into causing them to be oppressed. Because adult womyn and men are usually the ones doing the writing I feel they ignore adultism a lot. SO it was refreshing to see a website that stated that they were working against adultism.
I also have super fond memories of girls, inc so that was cool to check out as an older person.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More Girls' Voices; Less Passive Consumers of the Sparkle

To start, I had a bit of a disappointing experience related to girls' computer games. I had become excited when I saw "New Moon" on the syllabus, mistaking it with an entirely different thing -- Purple Moon. Purple Moon was a computer game company from the '90s that began marketing games specifically to girls. The one that I remember best and most fondly was called Rockett's New School, a game in which you are Rockett Movado, new girl in school. You try to make new friends, get by in your classes, avoid or befriend the mean popular girl, and, oddly, break into people's lockers and rummage through their belongings. It's Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-esque, with decisions to be made and consequences following.

The game definitely wasn't perfect and according to my fair source, Wikipedia, apparently the company faced charges of sexism and ethnic stereotyping. The next time that I'm at my parent's house I intend to play it again and see if the game stands up to scrutiny at age 22. The way that I remember it now is pretty favorably in terms of identification, helping girls with positive decision-making and simply being fun to play.

So, where is Purple Moon today and why am I so disappointed? In 1999, Mattel bought the company and did this with what was originally www.purple-moon.com. If you can remain on this animated pastel eye-sore for more than 15 seconds -- the looping unstoppable ads for Mariposa the Barbie Diamond Sparkle Queen of Castles Cupcakes Flutterfield Adventure or whatever are pretty intolerable -- you will note that the entire purpose of this site is to push product, and a certain brand of femininity while they're at it, at young girls. While Purple Moon existed to sell products as well, I feel like it had substantially more depth and possible measurable positive effect on girls than the floating plastic fairies of Mattel.

After this crushing of childhood memories, I went to the real New Moon website. I actually do remember this magazine and may have gotten it a couple of times. Sadly, it doesn't stand out in my memory mush of Teen Beat, 16, CosmoGirl, Teen, etc. Why couldn't I have latched on to this instead? New Moon seems to really encourage creativity, thought, friendship and other positive qualities in girls. I love that girls can give advice to other girls.

Along the lines of girls helping girls, I was excited to learn about the Youth Together Against AIDS program. Sadly, I found the New Global Citizens site to be somewhat vague and confusing. What exactly do they do? Do you have to apply for a team to find out? Was I on the wrong part of the site?

I was more impressed with the FreeChild Project, guiding girls to avenues where their voices could be heard, no matter their situations, demographics, or experiences.

Encouraging girls to be active participants in our society is definitely on the right track. Girls are so frequently taught to be passive. We need to raise active and loud girls! It is clear from all of the sites, that through technology there are at least some people and organizations attempting to change this. Hopefully girls can find these websites underneath the mountains of garbage thrown at them daily.

I LOVE Reading About Girls Getting Politically Active!

Of all the web sites we were assigned to view, I must say that I was incredibly impressed with Girlsinc.org!

I'm so glad that there are other programs like YWLP which focus on mentoring young girls, and Girlsinc is the most active, comprehensive, widespread, and amazing program that I have ever heard of!

Being engaged in the political process is very important to me, and my favorite part of the organization was the She Votes campaign. Through Girlsinc, girls were not only permitted to cast their vote in a mock presidential election, but they actually went to the DNC as reporters! GIRLS WERE THE PRESS! Understandably, these girls were older (16-21) than most targetted by the program, but it was still totally cool! In addition, girls from different chapters got to meet senators, register voters, and view documentaries about the history of women's political involvement! I've never heard of an organization that motivates girls to become involved in politics more than this one!

The website also does a great job of educating girls about politics in a fun and appealing way. This page teaches girls about presidential primaries:
https://www.girlsinc-online.org/inspire/she-votes/presidential_primary.html#

In addition, there are links on the She Votes portion of the website that explain the DNC and RNC, in addition to explaining what exactly a convention is. I especially like the "Girl's Guide to Conventions" section on the left hand side of this page =).
https://www.girlsinc-online.org/inspire/she-votes-conventions/she-votes-conventions.html
In this FAQ section, questions like "who's there?" and "what's the main point?" appeal to girls who may not yet understand the political process, and they are invited to learn in a fun and friendly enviroment.

"Inspiring all Girls to be Strong, Smart, and Bold."

Girlsinc does all that and more, and I believe that inspring girls to become invovled in the political process best exemplifies the mission of the organization.

looove the links!!

NewMoon.com is an awesome website, if I was a parent I wouldn't hesistate dropping the 30 bucks for a year subscription. My favorite aspect of it is advertising-free! (In 2003, $893
million was spent in consumer magazines on cosmetics advertising alone) Many magazines and such will contain positive messages for young women, only to be followed up by a misogynistic/sexist advertisement depicting women poorly! Also, without the dependency on advertisers dollars, websites such as newmoon can publish what they WANT to, without worry of influence from big-buck product-pushing companies. "Learn about helping the environment, participating in politics, building better communities, and so much more!" This is definitely more of what young girls should be being taught- not how to make-out "like a pro" or deciphering "does he like you back." Politics??? Hell yeah!

The FreeChild Project is designed for an older age-group, but is a wealth of information and resources. "
The Freechild Project believes that the machoism and sexism inherent in many activist projects attempts to derail many young women's ability to lead and demand social change. " This is freaking awesome, because a lot of instances gender roles will still impact an action and girls will be pushed to the back. This website, to me, is a true fist-up in solidarity to Girl Power.

The fact sheets provided on GirlsInc are awesome. I'm used to seeing the same repeated facts and statistics, and these sheets provide NEW information- very helpful for getting people's attention and starting a revolution. This information is great for NOW's Love Your Body Day campaign, and I used one of the statistics in the above paragraph about newmoon.

Overall, AMAZING websites. I hope these websites are making their presence known to young girls in schools. Maybe we could do that??

www.thesesitesrock.com

Although I usually don’t like reading extensively on line, I’m glad our homework was to visit these websites because Jill and I are going on an internet strike starting tomorrow for an entire week!!! That’s like a year in internet time!

Anyway. New Moon did rule. I think this line stood out to me the most: “We recognize that no one is more expert at being a girl than girls themselves…” This is an important message to the rest of the world to be reminded of, and especially to young girls themselves who are constantly being told that they don’t know what they want-or they’re too young to understand. I strongly feel that if young women have the intellect to ask certain questions, they certainly have the power to face the answers (which these answers shouldn’t be so scary and negative to approach anyway). And it was incredible to watch the short video of Orb 28 brainstorm about their upcoming blog. It was refreshing to see girls shown in the light of confidence and cooperation rather than in a catty gossip circles.

I was weary of girlsinc.org because I thought it was going to be a different website which spouts feminist agendas while simultaneously acting as a more scrutinizing version of myspace for young girls (you can post pictures of your style, which the other girls tear it apart). Unfortunately, I couldn’t re-find that site but I’ll keep looking. I suppose I entered girlsinc.org with an extra critical view because I was also hesitant about the categories such as “Bold Girl” or “Smart Girl” because I was afraid that this could potentially further segregate young girls by being label-focused. But I don’t think this is the case at all. Although individuals will of course identify with one category more than the other due to unique interests, all categories share a sense of empowerment and need to stick together! Several topics called for unification such as “Starting your own club” or donating to Hurricane Katrina victims.

The other two websites were certainly great resources too, but I liked how New Moon and girlsinc.org appealed to a younger age. I sometimes forget that the computer is not solely an adult toy or tool anymore.

Girls have the right to be themselves

So I really wish I had New Moon when I was young. It seems to be so much more helpful compared to the magazines I read as a young girl- J14, CosmoGirl, ect. In New Moon instead of “What Kind of Guy is Right For You?” they have “Female First-do you know who these famous women are?” Instead of “What Store in the Mall is Your Favorite” Poll, they have “What topic are you most interested in hearing about in the presidential and vice presidential debates?” poll. My favorite part of the site was the Ask A Girl and Beautiful Girls. I love how they had they girls write in about someone they know who has inner-beauty. Here’s one of them…

“A beautiful girl doesn’t pick favorites. A beautiful girl listens when you want to talk. A beautiful girl is there when you need her. She isn’t afraid to be herself, and she doesn’t force you to be like her. A beautiful girl keeps your secrets no matter what they are. A beautiful girl doesn’t care what others think about her; she knows who she is, and she’s proud of herself. She tries to do her best, and that’s what counts. A beautiful girl lifts you up instead of putting you down. A beautiful girl laughs, but not at you.
Do you know a beautiful girl? I do. Her name is Aftin. Aftin Long.
Aftin the Girl: I want to be a defense lawyer (because I like to argue a lot) or an FBI agent, who solves mysteries. I also want to be an actress—my favorite movie is Steel Magnolias. My favorite class is P.E. because I love to run and play basketball (I play wing and point on our team). The craziest thing I ever did was yell out “Where’s the spinach dip?!” during communion when I was 3. I was very hungry. I kept saying, “Mom, I’m hungry,” until I couldn’t stand it anymore. Boy, did I get in trouble!
Aftin recommends "A Child Called 'It'"
by David J. Pelzer.”

I enjoyed reading about these young girls who made a difference in someone else’s life or helped better their community. Makes me wish I were more active when I was little. If more girls read this magazine they would probably feel motivated to help create change as well.

On Girls Inc. I LOVED The Girls’ Bill of Rights and the fact that they have them listed in different languages…

“Girls have the right to be themselves and to resist gender stereotypes.
Girls have the right to express themselves with originality and enthusiasm.
Girls have the right to take risks, to strive freely, and to take pride in success.
Girls have the right to accept and appreciate their bodies.
Girls have the right to have confidence in themselves and to be safe in the world.
Girls have the right to prepare for interesting work and economic independence.”

I want to print them out and just give them to everyone girl I come in contact with. So empowering.

*Oh and here's an awesome site that I found through feministing...www.girleffect.org
Watch the video. It's amazing!

The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation

I'm ecstatic to know that websites like these exist for girls, but my question always is: how do they find them? It's possible that they are advertised to girls somewhere, but I don't see where. When I was younger, the only way I found out about (alternative) websites and magazines for girls was through friends or my mom. I would have loved to peruse sites like this when I was younger, I feel like they would have helped develop my sense of agency and self confidence.

I love New Moon because girls are a part of the production - which moves them from simple cultural consumers to cultural producers. The various sections encouraging girls to submit artwork, poetry, record themselves singing or dancing, to debate hot topics, or simply send in her thoughts, provide a space for girls to explore and create, things that are too frequently ignored. The section that struck a nerve for me was the "Beautiful Girls" section, the blurb explanation says a lot about its purpose: "Beauty comes from the inside, and every girl has it! At New Moon Girls, we turn the definition of beauty inside out! Find out why these girls are amazing and beautiful, and why you are too!" Each of the featured sections provide an interactive space for girls to get involved at whatever level they feel comfortable.

The Freechild Project is an amazing resource that is interesting to me because of my activist work. We've discussed in some of the groups that I've been in how male bodied people are frequently chosen to be spokespeople, media liasons, and generally the front people, while the women and female bodied people are more often doing behind-the-scenes work. It's something I've worked to improve in the groups I've been involved with, and I'm glad to know there's a resource working to do the same on a larger scale.

In case it's not easily apparent, I'm drawn to the sites that encourage girls to be active and engaged. Rather than simply working for the girls, they provide a space for girls to create, often with other women, which is so cool.

Girls' Voices

There is so much garbage on the web that young girls can come across. It is good to see there are sites made especially for them. The New Moon site gives them a place to ask questions, things to do, and plenty of stuff to learn. The new moon site was great. Also, what makes this site so neat is that not only is it made for girls, but girls also contribute so much to it. It seems like such a fun site that they can get on. There are games, quizzes, questions & Answers, and so much information. This magazine and website really gives young girls a voice!

Girls inc. also had a lot of information and programs for girls. One thing I really like about this site is that it had both a section for adults and then a link to the site for girls. The section for adults had the history of Girls inc., news, information, and programs that are offered. I think it is a good idea to have parents participate in what their kids are doing online. It gives them an option of sites to suggest for their daughters to go to and more of which ones to stay away from. Although, while this site was interesting, I still do not think it has near as much to offer as new moon. If we want girls to turn to these websites, they need to be structured in a way that draws them in. Which means they have to have a say and be able to construct it and contribute to it.

The other sites were also interesting. It’s great to get people involved when they are young. The new global citizens web site has a “mission to educate, equip, and mobilize young people to help solve the greatest challenges faced by communities around the world.” Computers were obviously not quite as prevalent in homes ten or more years ago. However, today kids are online all the time and it is good to see that there are fun and educational things for them to do.

These websties make me proud to be a girl

While browsing through the new-moon website I found the bio’s of the girls who had written poetry and submitted it to the website. It makes me smile when I read the bio of a 12 year old and it states
“I am a seventh grader in a very liberal and democratic neighborhood. I support Obama-Biden.” “I HATE it when people are homophobic or sexist. I also hate it when people try to convert me to their religion…”
It shows me that the youth is becoming more active with current issues and politics. When I was 12 I don’t even think I knew who was running for president and so many girls now are aware of who these people are and what their stances on issues are. More so they have their own opinions about all the “ism’s!” The other day on the radio (I can’t remember what station) elementary school kids called in to tell them who they would vote for and why, afterwards the crew would quiz them on politics. One of the questions asked was “what do you think is the biggest issue in the United States right now” and I was shocked when a seven year old girl answered that she couldn’t pick one because there was too many, but she came to the conclusion that the war needed to end. Girls forming their own opinions gives me hope that they will voice them and their voices will change so many things in the world for better.

Also, on the girl’s Inc. website I fell in love with this advertisement, http://girlsinc.org/images/psa_print_fourfootframe.jpg. It reminds me of when I was little and my dad used to put me in all these sports and his message was always the same “give it all you got.” Giving girl’s positive encouragement produces women who really obtain their goals. I think it’s so important for young girls to have a good support group so they understand that there are people who know they can do anything. It really helps to have someone believe in you.