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.

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