Monday, August 31, 2009

A day late, but glad to be here

Hey everyone, my name is Jen Torrent and I’m a senior at UCF this year as a Psychology major with a Sociology minor. I eventually plan on pursuing a PhD in Sport Psychology. I’m a cheerleading and gymnastics coach to pre-school students and that job pretty much drains me. Generally I do find some time for myself and I usually spend it in the gym. I’m an aspiring Olympic weightlifter, which can sometimes be a struggle socially, but a confidence builder at the same time. I’ve been dating a girl for the past two and a half years and that’s been a really awesome experience. I come from a very accepting family, so being gay is something I look at more as a blessing than anything else. I hope to gain a bit more working knowledge of society’s impact on girls which will give me insight on how to treat them as athletes/ clients. I’m excited to get some perspective and opinions from others. This is my first women’s studies class and also my first time blogging, so it’s almost like stepping into a new genre of learning which is probably going to be an eye-opening adventure.

Sittenfeld wrote in a way that made the life of an adolescent female seem a bit rushed, but maybe that was just her style of writing. I thought the most about how teenage girls have a good amount of time to themselves and this is where the extreme emotions tend to fester. There was definitely a good deal of accuracy in the time line style of her writing. The way that the boys continually treated Anna, I think was accurate of many girls experiences. In the story she did choose to have some respect for her personal space, and because of that her relationships with the opposite sex were nonexistent. Unfortunately, I think that might be a true mirror of many co-ed situations. This story didn’t however go into her actual physical appearance, which I thought would have been a prominent aspect.

The stories from the girls in Red were definitely in a very different voice. They were much more masochistic in many cases. These stories are more so about certain aspects of a girl’s life as opposed to her journey through adolescence. They are stories and for that reason, can exclude any insecurity she may have. On the other hand, because they are expressions of these girls, they may be the most accurate account of how they truly view the world. They all seemed very age appropriate, but I don’t know if I myself could have written in such a reflective light as some of these girls did at their age. My favorite of the stories was Mini Mountain I think just because it was such a success story. I could really relate to and understand her confidence growing with time and experience. I also enjoyed so much that she felt proud of her strength as opposed to being shy about it. Overall, I thought the stories were connected to Sittenfeld’s piece in the idea that each girl felt that her story was life altering on some level.

Take this pink ribbon off my eyes.

Hey everyone. My name is Meagan Lorenzo and I am a grrl in transition. I am a senior at UCF majoring in Molecular and Microbiology hoping to continue on to medical school in the next year or so. In the last two years I have becoming very heavily involved in feminism, though I think I was born a feminist, and women’s studies and plan on always incorporating it in my life in some way. I love medicine, science, and feminism. I hope to find myself. As we all know, our identities are multi-faceted and as such our politics are fluid and subject to change. In the past few months my feminism has evolved and thus, I am a grrl in transition. I am taking this class because I’m a girl. Simple as that. I am interested in the way society and cultures shape our lives and experiences as girls. I know that the girls we know will grow into women and what better way to enhance and understand the female experience than to start at the beginning?

“Your Life as a Girl.”

I was shocked and horrified and yet reminded of myself in so many of the instances in “Your Life as a Girl.” Sittenfeld accurately captures “girlhood” in her story but I have come to learn that although Anna’s girlhood was slightly reminiscent of mine, this is not the case for all girls. I know many women and girls will say that they never felt about themselves the way Anna did; however, would it be a stretch to say that some of these girls actually did? No one wants to admit they self-loathing and feelings of inadequacy that one feels growing up as a girl. Personally, although I did not feel the exact way Anna did I remember the embarrassment of boys not wanting me to engage in their sport games or how much I wanted to die when I did not understand something in class, or worse, when I was one of the few who did understand.

Red “Anything Extracurricular”

I enjoyed the stories in the “Anything Extracurricular” section because they were all about girls, by girls. Although the insight shared with us in the “Anything Extracurricular” section was not exactly the same as Anna’s experiences, the uniting theme was the common link of joys and pains all girls experience when growing up. Although girls are all different we share many common experiences; the instance may be different but the feeling is the same. What I did enjoy about the girl’s stories in this section was the way these girls, in the face of hardships and the struggles of growing up managed to find and have happy and positive experiences.

The lives of girls can be hard and joyful, complex yet so simple. The experience of being a girl is so real yet beautiful. I look forward to learning more about girl’s lives and consequently more about my own experience as a girl as this course progresses on.

Sunday, August 30, 2009



Hello, everyone!!! May I just say this is my very first blog post ever! I am very familiar with blogs, I actually follow quite a few of them, but for some reason I just have never had the courage to create my own.

 So, I guess I will start with the usual introduction… My name is Ana Alvarez, and I am currently majoring in Political Science with a minor in Legal Studies. As you can see this is clearly not a class required for my major/minor, but it caught my attention and figured it would be a very interesting class. Looking at the material, I am already loving it!!! GIRLPOWER!  My plan is to become a lawyer, right now prepping for the LSAT is my life L (taking it in Sept. 26). Although, I currently have a lot of stress in my life I try not to let it get to me. I love being active…. Exercising works as a great stress reliever for me. Spinning and kickboxing are a couple of my favorites. I am very happy with my life right now, of course it is nowhere near perfect but when will it ever be?

As, I was reading “Your Life as Girl” there were a lot of things that I was able to relate to, which is why I believe that Sittenfeld was able to effectively capture “girlhood” through her story. Sittenfeld definitely makes it clear that “girlhood” is not a walk in park; there are many ups and downs in our lives. When we are young we have no worries in the world, it is exemplified with the first sentence in Sittenfeld’s story  “In the fifth grade, you can run faster than any girl in your class.”  When we are young we just do what comes natural to us, we don’t worry about fitting in or what our peers are going to say. However, as we get older other factors come into play, and they make our life that much difficult. The main factors that seem to envelope our world are appearance and boys. We go to such extreme measures to look good that we even use “rotating silver coils that rip out hair from the root”! And we go through such torture with the hopes of finding our “true love”. It is all very fairy- tale like…although by now we have learned that life is not a fairy-tale.

 The stories written by the girls in Red relate to “Your Life as a Girl”. Sittenfeld shows the toughness about being a girl and the constant obstacles we face. The stories in Red exemplify just that! We read the stories of girls and the obstacles they have overcome. The stories show that girls have the strength and power to overcome whatever life may throw at us. These stories give me hope!! 

Girls Studies

Hello Everyone,

My name is Natasha and I am sad to say that this will be my last semester at UCF because I will be graduating in December. My major is psychology and my Minor is Women's Studies.
Women's Studies has literally changed my life, so much so that I plan on getting my Masters in Women's Studies. I think I have been a feminist all my life, I just never really knew what a feminist was until I started taking Women's Studies classes. Now, I am a strong activist for the Women's movement and what it represents. I love telling people I am a feminist and the actions, beliefs, and comments I receive in reply to that statement. lastly, I am happily married feminist with two CATS!

Your life as a Girl”

I think Sittenfeld effectively captures the girlhood experience, because she displays the constant struggle between the boy-girl relationships and the societal pressure for girls to conform to standards of what women should be. For instance, the boy’s nit-picking of girl behavior and looks. They do it as if they know what and how a girl should act and the only “girl” behavior that the boys approve of is the behavior that is of an obeying nature. For example, when she confronts the behavior of the boy who screams “can I suck your tits” his friend tells her to relax, it was just a joke. Also when one boy physically pushes himself on her physically hurting her, she screams at him, but all he says is deal with it. As if physical harm to a woman means nothing to him. She, because she is a girl, should simply deal with his aggressive attempts to touch her. These examples are all examples of girls being slighted and looked at as being less than boys, less human.

Meanwhile, girls are constantly trying to please every boy in terms of her beauty, brains, and demeanor because society by means of media implies she must. For example when Sittenfeld writes “senior year, you develop a schedule: Every Sunday morning you burn your skin. Not in glory though, not you: What you do is rub wax onto your calves, and then for half a day your legs are as smooth as pebbles. Or you use rotating silver coils that rip out your hair from the root, or you use bleaching cream. You stand in front of the mirror bleeding and stinging and knowing full well that the boys in your class will never think you’re beautiful anyway.” I think what Sittnefeld is conveying in her story is something most if not all girls go through during “girlhood” and continue to struggle with into adulthood.

“Red Anything Extracurricular”

I enjoyed reading about the extracurricular activities of girls. Most of the activities weren’t the normal extracurricular activities that we take part in within school. For example, one girl wrote about going to the Hamptons and the time spent with her grandmother and cousin. Another girl wrote about her first job, which sounded absolutely horrible, and another simply wrote how she enjoyed spending time alone. Most of these stories were the opposite of what Sittenfeld wrote about. Many of the girls didn’t mention boys or their influence on their lives. Instead, these girls wrote what they most loved, what made them feel alive, normal, human, and good. Where Sittenfeld wrote about what caused her confusion and sadness--boys, the girls wrote about what they enjoyed most which did not involve boys. And in that difference these stories become alike. Sittenfeld felt that she needed a man to make her feel complete. She struggled with loneliness and insignificance. While, the stories of the girls focused on experiences that made them feel alive.


Hi! My name is Lauren, i'm 23 yrs old and a senior! I can finally say i'm in my last year at UCF! I have 4 classes left until I have successfully completed my bachelors with a major in psych. and a minor in women's studies. I am taking this course as one of my required courses for women's studies, they said they would sub it in. I am a manager at Publix, so I work a lot and basically have no life. Especially have no life with work, school, and volunteering at Serene Harbor, a local women's shelter. This would be why I have nothing too interesting to write about myself. :)

As far as the readings go, I identified with these little girls' stories. I can remember feeling the same things when I was younger, it makes me wish I was a kid again - even though some of the feelings I felt weren't all that great.

In "Your Life As a Girl", I cannot relate to this as much as some of my friends growing up could. I remember longing for a boy's attention, but at the same time wishing no one would look at me. I was never obsessed with exercise, nor did I ever think I was "fat" at that age, that came later on in life, like now. lol... Like Anna, I was a tomboy, but this "phase" lasted until high school for me. Even though to this day I greatly appreciate sports, and apparently that is a quality that guys also appreciate. So I guess you could say that these early days of my life benefited me more than I knew back then. I guess after reflecting on this, I identify with a lot of what Anna wrote about. Being naive, wishful, and also ashamed of what you were... trying to fit in. My early teenage years were spent longing to fit in. It wasn't until high school that I stopped caring (as much) and focused on the friends I had. To this day, I still try to fit in sometimes, maybe not to the extremes I went to when I was younger, but I think everyone does to a certain extent. I feel like this story accurately captured "girlhood". I read others' responses with some saying they didn't identify with this reading, but every woman's "girlhood" is different I suppose. It connects with the stories in Red because it tells of how Anna feels about everything in her life during "girlhood" -- her insecurities about herself and boys, friends, school, her "tomboy-ness", etc. All of the stories in Red reflect on how those girls feel towards those things, as well as other important events that occur early on in life.

In Red, I truthfully enjoyed reading each story. I probably identified in one way or another with every story in this assignment. It made me think back on my childhood and realize how much those years impacted me and made me the person I am now. I also thought back on the things that I miss, the simplicity that it was back then. Even though back then it was the end of the world if something bad happened -- like being told I couldn't go outside and play. If that was my worst crisis right now, I'd be okay with that. :)
Mini Mountain made me think of softball. I used to be such a tomboy. I played softball from age 9 to 16. Softball, to me, was like being in a whole different world, like the gym was to "Mini" when she was rock-climbing. All of these stories tell you that girls have a lot of the same feelings as they grow up, just maybe different circumstances. Growing up is hard for a girl, and these stories reflect on life "happenings" and how they were affected by them. When we felt like we found ourselves, when we lost someone - or something - we loved, a certain place we most enjoyed when we were young, etc. If I think back to my "girlhood" I identify with each one of these.

About me/Your life as a girl

A bit about me
Hi Everyone! My name is Amy Goldrod, and I am currently a junior here at UCF. I really love this school, and love being involved on campus. My first two years, I was a part of the Student Government Asssociation, and am also involved with Greek life. My major is Advertising/Public Relations, and have been interning in that field as well. Other things I have done in the past two years include teaching, being a camp counselor at a sleep away camp, and volunteering. I believe that you get out of life what you put into it, so I try to put in a lot!
I am taking this class because I love taking Liberal Arts electives, and want a well rounded education. I would consider myself a “feminist” to a certain extent, but not in a radical way what-so-ever. My minor is Psychology and I figured that this class would be interesting and relate to my minor, as I have been learning about all different types of people.
As a girl myself, I figure it is important to know about other woman. I hope that learning about others will help me learn about myself.
“Your life as a girl”
At the beginning of the story, there is much evidence that the young girl is a “tom boy.” Being the four square queen and fastest girl are just a couple of examples that are proof of this. However, it does not stop the author from capturing girlhood in her story. As the story progresses, and the girl turns into a young lady, we see how femininity becomes apparent. Wearing baggy clothes, and going on numerous diets are just the beginning of her self-consciousness. She also starts to care what everyone thinks about her, and is constantly analyzing, and criticizing herself. In the story, she even admitted to believing that everything about her was “horrifying.” She then begins running two miles followed by 250 flights of stair master every day.
The reason I say all of this is a part of girlhood is because self consciousness is strongly prevalent among the majority of teenagers throughout their high school careers. Self esteem issues are very common. Unfortunately, it is almost inevitable that worrying about what peers think of you is a part of growing up.
Although the stories in Red are a bit different from Anna’s, I see a similarity. The reason that I can find a connection among the stories in “Red” and “Your life as a girl” is because when it comes down to it, we are all girls. No matter our background, culture, or upbringing, girls are all the same everywhere. We all have intensified emotions, whether it be anger, happiness, or even self consciousness. Girls all over the world are very similar to each other in that aspect of life. We all go through it. We are more in touch with ourselves, and even though the stories in “Red” describe more of the memorable moments of a girl’s life, while Anna’s story is just brief examples of her girlhood, they both capture how similar we really are to each other.

Greetings and salutations

Hello, my name is Hickory and I am a senior with a major in English Lit. and a minor in Women's Studies. I work a super full time job, take a full course load at the Orlando campus, workout like a freak, am recently divorced and take care of a small petting zoo at home (2 dogs, a cat, a rabbit and a blue and gold macaw). When I am not working, at the gym or cleaning up after my menagerie, I like to read. Imagine that, a literature major who likes to read! I am also big into music and of course movies. I am taking this course not only to satisfy my minor requirements but also to learn more about the trials of girls today. It has been awhile since I was a girl.

I have to say, Sitteneld’s story did not sound familiar to me at all. I was not any of those things when I was a girl. I didn’t react as this girl did and I did not engage in the same ludicrous activities. I was actually disgusted by the girl in the story. I just could not believe that someone would let themselves be treated that way and would focus so much on their own self hatred. Maybe it has been a long time since I was a girl, but I really don’t remember ever acting like that. Now, the stories in Red I did understand. Although I certainly could not relate to summers in the Hamptons, I could relate to the feelings and thoughts of these girls. Even the story of the girl obsessed with climbing, although I have never been on any kind of team like that or participated heavily in a sport. These stories seemed to convey larger ideas about coming of age lessons and broader thoughts on how girls learn to value things in life. Sittenfeld’s story was a look at the uglier inner workings of a girl and her battle with her self identity and desires. I can’t relate. I have always been straightforward and honest about who I am, what I think and what I want. I have always tried to be honest with myself. I’ll admit, this approach has left me somewhat jaded as I loathe hypocrisy and see it everywhere. But, I take pride in the fact that people know I will always tell them the truth, even when they don’t want to hear it.

If appearance is unimportant, what's wrong with this appearance? - Rose, The Mirror Has Two Faces


Hello everyone, my name is Angie, and like many of you, this is my first time blogging. Although I almost created an entirely new blog when I attempted to complete our first assignment, I suspect I'm going to enjoy this immensely!

I am a non-traditional student, and a late bloomer. Although chronologically and physically speaking I am an adult, I am not ashamed to admit that I often struggle with the same issues I once faced as a girl. The truth is, some things never change, and quite often, we will have to face our past in order to advance into our future.

I enrolled in this course because I am pursuing a double-major at UCF in Sociology and Women Studies. My goal is to become a full-time advocate for victims of crime. I specifically want to help victims of human trafficking, and want to do all I can to educate and enlighten our society about the existence of this heinous crime.


I enjoyed reading Sittenfeld's story as I was able to place myself in Anna's shoes. Although her character was unable to overcome her lack of self-confidence, I felt her story captured the angst of girlhood with clarity and depth. I identified with Anna, although I was pathetically inept at sports, and continue to be so to this day! However, I did find myself caught in the confusing world of double-standards.

I noticed that boys would often be praised for the same things girls would get reprimanded over; I never understood why. Sadly, this double-standard is still in existence today, although I am quite aware of the many reasons why it is allowed to flourish and prevail.

If Anna had been a boy, would her gym teacher have questioned her viciousness? I think not. Had Anna been a boy, he would have been praised for it, and encouraged to continue playing with the same fierce, testosterone laden aggression.

Anna was chastised for being unladylike and for failing to follow the unwritten, unpublished, set of rules that girls and women are expected to subscribe to on a daily basis. She was not supposed to excel at sports or display intelligence; in fact, she was expected to run away in fear from that big, scary, red ball!

The stories in Red stirred a multitude of emotions inside of me; everything from amusement to sadness. I caught glimpses of my thirteen year-old goddaughter in the story entitled Pediatrics, as she aspires to become a Pediatrician when she grows up. I love that she is so passionate about medicine and knows what she wants to do with her life; I only recently figured it out, and I am considerably older than she is.

Sometimes I wish I would have found my passion at a young age, like Mini, the mountain climber or my goddaughter, the Pediatrician did. I must confess, I felt envious of the fact that Mini's first love turned out to be such an enduring and passionate one.

Still, George Elliot said It's never too late to be what you might have been.

Thankfully, there is still enough of a girlish dreamer inside of this woman to believe him.

Pink Ribbons Fade Color As You Mature.

Hello class! I am Elizabeth Nesbitt aka (Labbygirl.) I prefer to be called Liz. I am returning to college after an 18yr. hiatus’. I am an Interdisciplinary studies major in Humanities and Social Sciences with a minor in Health Administration. I am taking this class towards my major and I thought it seemed really interesting. I am in my early forties and work full-time for Shands Healthcare in Gainesville, Florida. I am a financial counselor and enjoy helping people. I am petite, use and electric wheelchair for mobility and drive a high tech. van. I have Spinal Muscular Atrophy a form of Muscular Dystrophy. I love dogs, and rescue Labrador retrievers for Florida Labrador Retriever Rescue in my county. I have a beautiful yellow lab named Tuffie, who is my service dog and goes with me everywhere. I live with my partner Terry of 20 plus years and truly love him. We have the first dog I ever rescued a big black 90lb. lab named Midnight. He is a gentle teddy bear. Then there is Peanut a 10lb. Chihuahua who thinks he is a Labrador. Finally, there is Princess a 9lb. Chihuahua. Amazingly our dogs all get along, plus we rescued two black cats a brother and sister named Lilo and Stitch. This is our first experience raising cats and it has had its moments.

I have a bubbly personality, and do not accept the word no for an answer. I have paved the road in many areas for physically challenged individuals. I do not like to be treated any different and I live by the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I feel many people do not take the time to get to know someone before making the wrong assumptions. I am open minded, strong minded and stick to my convictions. Listening to music helps me relax and I love reading books, watching movies and scrapbooking. Presently, I am working on a scrapbook about Tuffie and I and our adventures together.

“Your Life As a Girl” by Sittenfeld starts out with Anna as a tomboy. She is playing various sports and winning. Anna gets along with the boys as buddies until she is at the Halloween dance. Jimmy Wrightson appears and says “Hey, Anna, can I suck your tits?” This is the age when boys are picking on girls and Anna for being a tomboy and doing dares for money. Sittenfeld is describing Anna and her experiences starting in late elementary through high school. At middle school Anna and her friends are into every diet imaginable and thinking the worst of themselves. Sittenfeld is writing the story through Anna, but I have to wonder if she is not expressing how she felt as a girl growing up. I think Sittenfeld hits most of young girl’s feelings and actions, but I prefer the stories in Red. I think this story is told to fast, you blink and she is getting ready for college. I could relate to a lot of Anna’s feelings of being fat, ugly and all the above. We are constantly exposed through media the perfect female body. As girls we think we need to all look like a model and constantly put ourselves under the microscope. I prefer the stories in Red because they are written in first person.

The story Lately written by a 14 year old young women made me remember putting my dog down 8 years ago. This young writer deals with death like a very mature adult. She is glad that Lately doesn’t accept the brittle leaves. She wants her horse to remember “her hand on her nose and neck and suddenly entwined in her mane.” The young girl remembers the good experiences she had with her horse. I feel the first experience girls have with death be it human or animal starts you on the path to maturity. I thought the girl authors in Anything Extracurricular did an excellent job describing their emotions. The young writer’s captivate you into their stories and make you feel as if you are re living their experiences.

Introducing Myself--Blog #1


My name is Brandon Male and I am a senior at UCF studying Technical Communication. I am from Miami, Fl. but I have lived in the Orlando area for about the past 4 years pursuing my education at UCF. I am a Buddhist, vegetarian, and I enjoy reading, writing, and talking about different ideas. One person that I really respect is the Dalai Lama.

Throughout my time here at UCF I have been open to many different topics and I have taken a wide variety of classes, including criminal justice, political science, literature, business, education, sociology, and psychology. I figure women’s studies would be a good topic to add to my repertoire. Women, their specific struggles, and the differences and similarities between the two genders have always fascinated me. I figure that I can increase my personal worth by better understanding these topics. This is why I am enrolled in this class.

Your Life As A Girl

I enjoyed this well-written piece. I am unsure if she captures the reality of what it is like to be a girl as I have not experienced what it is like to physically be a girl growing up. I can comment on the reality of confusion that many girls must feel as they grow up. There is a particular distance between young girls and boys, this distance is sometimes increased through social tendencies. Sittenfeld describes the difference in great detail.

It is interesting how Sittenfeld alludes to a common yet unspoken inequality between boys and girls. She personally overcomes this dilemma for a short time when she comes in 6th place on the mile run at school. The boys briefly view her as a strong athlete and this makes her happy. I am wondering if this is common among many girls growing up?


The stories in Red seem different from Sittenfeld’s “Your Life As A Girl.” Red seems to capture the essence of life from a multitude of young girls. Some are exploring the death of a loved pet (the horse story), others are exploring time away from home (the trip to China), and finally, some are just describing their life at home with grandma.

Both selections of text share an explorative quality that describes the young girls of today. Most of the time they are sad, confused, or happy, but what makes them unique is the desire to explore their feelings. Through this hunger for knowledge, growing and learning are easily achieved. The results of this personal growth are intelligence, sensitivity, and emotional understanding—vey important attributes.

Misty Tones it Down

I am Misty, I love singing, and I hope to heal from pelvic pain. I have a rare illness that affects women and men and finally just recently received its five minutes of fame on 20/20 (not me personally). Most gynecologists are men and told me I probably just had something psychiatric going on but now with research (and more women coming forward), it is discovered that I have nerve damage and a problem that may affect up to 200 million people. Women and healthcare and how they are treated as patients by male doctors are fascinating, really. Male doctors (and females) know our anatomy but not the nerves. It’s new to consider such a thing seriously; neurology of the pelvis.
I am taking this class because first, this teacher is awesome and offers engaging readings and Anja and Tara weren’t included, for reasons I still don’t know” (Oldroyd 179). Secondly, I have a 10-year old daughter and am going back in time now (“Mommy, when will I have boobies and Mommy when do I get tampons?”) are questions I am getting and I must say, Sittenfeld’s article brought me back to those days. Honestly, I don’t have my book yet and only got glimpses of the other articles. Still, the purpose of me taking this is that we do not have many courses on gender studies that are available online and I am limited to online with my condition.
I think that Sittenfeld certainly illustrate how some girls go from being praised for being good at something in younger years, and then having to “tone it down” in older years. “You play on the soccer team, but if the boys ever watch, you make only halfhearted attempts to kick the ball” (Sittenfeld, 5). The stories or parts of, that I read in “Red,” show girls’ memorable moments that they recall that define them (or redefine them) as girls going through a similar process. “Surprising, I cannot elaborate on this as I wish to and support it with quotes so I apologize for this…! Sittenfeld seems to find praise in not being so outspoken (something I can relate with personally) and through these societal cues adapts to fit in. However, the boys are encouraged to be rough but she is chastised a bit when she asks if she is being a bit rough with the other girls in four-square.
Oldroyd is fortunate to have her first love be a rock as opposed to a boy because it is far less complicated. I say this general statement but I had trouble determining if she had a crush on her teacher or if I am way off base? I could not read much of Otterness’ work online but certainly girls have a reputation (I’m thinking in a clean way, here) of having a love for horses. Sadly, she learns of giving mercy to an animal by its end (very sad). She connects with the horse and faces it instead of turning away from pain. However, I feel this is entirely off the questioning base yet I still wanted to contribute!

Artist and Accountant


My name is Tara Anderson and I am in my 5th year as an Art major here at UCF. I am recently married and my husband and I both work at UCF. I work in the CAH Dean's Office as an Accounting Assistant (an Art major working as an accountant, weird I know!). I have also been doing a little design work on the side such as making wedding invitations for several of my friends and designing T-shirts. I enjoy going to baseball games and going dancing. I also LOVE to sing. I'm a master at flip cup even though I'm a lightweight. My favorite shows are Dexter and Project Runway. I love my boxer Rocky :). And I kind of hate sweating. Over the summer I took Intro to Women's Studies and I absolutely loved it! I loved it so much that I decided to minor in Women’s Studies. I am super excited about Girl's Studies and can't wait to get to know everyone a little better!

In reading Your Life as a Girl, I think that Sittenfeld captures "girlhood" perfectly, and there we several things that hit home with me personally. Throughout the story it is made apparent that Anna is very conscious of boys and what they think of her. "You play on the soccer team, but if boys ever watch, you make only half hearted attempts to kick the ball" (5). "You stand in front of the mirror, bleeding and stinging and knowing full well that the boys in your class will never think you're beautiful anyway" (7). The fact that boys seemed to rule Anna's world is something that I also dealt with when I was younger. I can remember as far back as kindergarten having crushes on boys. It was probably around 5th grade though, that I really started wanting a "boyfriend". I started wearing make-up shaving my legs and generally becoming far more concerned with my appearance than I had ever been. In sixth grade I convinced my parents to get me contact lenses so I wouldn't have to wear my glasses and look like a "nerd". I also remember realizing that boys liked boobs, and I didn't have them. It literally wasn't until just before college that I stopped caring so much what boys thought and just tried to please myself.

As for the stories from Red, I really liked how it gave me a chance to look into the girl's lives for a second. It made me much more aware of the fact that young girls all around the country regardless of race, class or socioeconomic status went through (and are going through) the same things I did when I was a teenager. I can relate to the way Mini felt that a few of the girls in her climbing class "had some sort of higher quality about them" and wanted to fit in with their group (Red 178). I can also relate to Erika's revelation that "the most sweet-faced, sweet-voiced, seemingly most sweet person you could ever hope to meet can be a totally different person around boys" (Red 185). I think that compared to Your Life as a Girl, I enjoyed reading Red a little more. To me, the stories from Red seemed more relevant to me and to today. Like I said earlier I really liked being able to peak into the life of a younger girl and see commonalities that I shared with them. It also kind of makes me laugh to think about things that I thought were a huge deal when I was younger, and know now that they don't matter nearly as much as I thought back then.

Pleased to meet you...

An Introduction
Hello, my name is Jennifer Larino and I am a 21-year-old senior in my final semester at UCF. I hope to graduate in December with a degree in a journalism with a creative writing minor. In the meantime, however, I have the freedom to enroll in classes that truly interest me to fulfill my residency here. Girl's Studies will be my second women's studies course during my time at UCF and I am excited to begin breaking down and reliving the young female's experience. For a long time I have lamented the awkward and lonely girl that I was throughout middle and high school. I want to revisit her, understand her and, finally, learn to celebrate her.

"Your Life as a Girl" and Red Response
Sittenfeld's "Your Life as a Girl" was an interesting way to break into this course. It seemed in one fell swoop Sittenfeld captured much of the tensions, confusions and worries that shape, and sometimes plague, girlhood and female adolescence. While not all of the scenes in "Your Life as a Girl" were mirror images of what I personally experienced growing up, many of the same undertones existed. The nagging feeling that you aren't good looking enough, aren't smart enough, aren't fill-in-the-blank enough, is a universal for most during their youth. You're struggling to be yourself, whatever that is, but 'yourself' at the time is a strained amalgam of what you think everyone expects you to look and act like. And then mix in the opposite sex. It's almost as if someone is speaking another language ("You still don't know what he's said, and you have to ask Nell" [Sittenfield 4]). Still you want more than anything to be loved, to be in love. The confusion is unrivaled and it's not something for adults to look back on, roll their eyes and whisper "Teenagers..." to one another (I always HATED that growing up).

The darker side of Sittenfield's "Your Life as a Girl" is that the main character Anna seems to have very little in the way of a role model or a guiding light. There is a mother that plays in the background telling her what should and should not be done but otherwise Sittenfield's character is talking things over with equally-confused Nell or off at boarding school "reading romance novels" (Sittenfield 5) and keeping quiet about all the questions and offenses in her life. This is where my path in life veered drastically from Sittenfield's snapshot of girlhood. I think my mother is the main reason for that. Unlike the girl in Sittenfield's story, my mother was a constant presence in my life, more reliable than any of the friends I had at that time. She encouraged me to immerse myself in school. She set up a "spa day" in the home bathroom for me one week when I was particularly self-conscious about my facial acne even though she worked a full-time job. She rode her bike 30 miles round-trip with me into Boston to get the fifth Harry Potter book. Only when I was in college did my mother tell me she did all this to prevent me from walling myself inside my room, inside what magazines and T.V. was telling me, like Anna.

I had my mother but the girls' stories in Red show that a girl's pillar can vary from rock climbing, to a trip to another country to crazy family dinners during a summer in the Hamptons. I was especially drawn to Kirsten Oldroyd's story "Mini Mountain." Oldroyd's connection to mountain climbing became a forum where she could figure out who she was uninhibited, a personality nicknamed "Mini" by her rock climbing peers. "Mini always voiced her opinions, and friends, teachers, and anyone who worked at the gym forgot who quiet Kirsten - who gave no objections and no one really knew much about - was" Oldroyd writes (Goldwasser 179). For me, individual sports, including gymnastics and diving, helped feed a personal development similar to Oldroyd's.

All my ladies put your hands in the air!!!

Hi everyone! I’m Kristen Bartlett and I am a junior in the Ad/PR program here at UCF. I love fashion and I plan to live in NYC in the future. I have an amazing boyfriend named Jeff, who I have been with for two and a half years now. I am so proud to be a woman and I am very excited about this class. I can’t wait to get my service-learning project started! Sometimes I get very upset about how much women have to fight for everything. Why has the world made it so that we are afraid to walk alone to our cars at night? I am looking forward to what I hope to be an empowering experience in this class.

Sittenfeld, Curtis. “Your Life as a Girl”

Right away I thought I would not be able to relate to this story because I was never really good at sports, and I never wanted to get dirty playing outside. I was pleasantly surprised as I read on. Sittenfeld writes, “Everything about you is horrifying: your voice, body, hair, inability to be witty and panicky desires for approval and companionship.” That statement is something I can relate to. I remember feeling SO awkward for SO long. I envied the pretty girls and craved approval. As I began to develop I yearned for companionship and attention. I never want to go back to that age! I was not totally confident in my body at that time, but my feelings were nowhere near figure dimorphic like Anna seems to be in the story. I work in retail and some of the things girls say about their bodies’ just makes me want to cry. I had a girl about to start high school come into my store (American Eagle) for the first time to buy jeans. When she opened the fitting room to show me how they looked her first comment was about how gross her thighs were. She was in a size six; I am a size 6. I pleaded with her to reconsider and see just how beautiful she was. She just didn’t see it. I heavily identified with the story when Sittenfeld wrote, “… and now you know that you’re a statistic, not a freak.” There were many things I did and feelings I had that I thought no one would understand. Now that I am older I know that so many other girls were feeling that exact same way, and doing the exact same things.

Goldwasser, Amy. Red

I loved the stories from the Anything Extracurricular chapter in Red. It’s nice to read about real girls writing things exactly as they feel. Defining moments are very important for young women, and the writers of these stories handle them gracefully. I loved them all, but two really stood out for me. The very first sentence of The Management made me laugh out loud! “Every teen girl gets her fair share of bad jobs. (195)” Even though I am not a “teen” anymore, I do have a “bad job” right now! I am often lamenting about how much I hate my low paying retail job, and how I would give ANYTHING to do something that I am passionate about. I’m sure this is something everyone goes through, and I understand that if I put in my time now, my dream job will come eventually. The other story I really connected to was Alone. I loved my alone time in my house when I was a young teen. Just like the girl in the story I enjoyed not having anyone around to tell me how to use my time. “If time spent with others is to learn and improve oneself, then time spent alone is time to relish what you already are.” I love to relish all that is Kristen when I am alone. “Only when I do not need to label myself for any audience can I truly relax.” I think this is something that is true for everyone. It is only when I am alone or with my man that I love so much, that I feel like I can be %100 just me.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Hey new classmates! My name is Haley, I'm 22, and in my LAST semester ever at UCF! I'm getting my degree in interpersonal/organizational communication. While looking for the last few requirements of needing upper level classes, I saw the description of this class and immediately signed up. I first started getting interested in this topic in the Gender Studies class, which is why I was excited when I saw this class. I'm actually from Chicago, and moved here just for school. I'm always interning/volunteering at places relevant to my career. That's about all I can think of for now!

Concering the "Your Life as a Girl" story, I was surprised at how into the story I was, wanting to see the next stage of Anna's thoughts and experiences. I think that it doesn't necessarily represent girlhood for everybody- I think that depends on environment and each girl herself. However, I think it was a great generalization of what many girls might experience in their own "girlhoods." I liked that one of the topics emphasized was that different thoughts and topics take on different priority in a girl's mind as she gets older.

Concering the "Red" readings, these stories ere so easy to read as well! I love reading stories like these, kind of reminds me of the Chicken Soup books- real people, real experiences. I like that these stories had to do with looking back on memories from childhood ("Lately") and the thoughts and feelings of girls explaining "girlhood," such as in "Alone."

Who said a House Wife couldn't be a Feminist?

I’m Jessica Darden and I am a wife, mother, step-mother, and Interdisciplinary Studies/Women’s Studies major. My family is the most important thing to me and I would do anything for them. I am a stay at home mom who has a passion for women studies, marital devotion books, pop culture, blogging, face booking reality T.V. and HBO Sunday Nights.  I have taken Intro to Women’s Studies online with Ms. Preston last fall and learned so much. I am ready to take on this last semester with great vigor so that I can be an influence to the young girls that I will be helping. Moreover, I am growing smarter and stronger about who I am and why I love being a woman so much.  More importantly my faith ties it all together for me. I hope that I can learn a lot from others in this class and in return give great feedback.
Week One Assignment:
Sittenfeld, Curtis. “Your Life as a Girl.
Sittenfeld captures some aspects of girlhood in his writing. I can’t help but feel bad for Anna; she is so lost in her life and seems so confused. Some of her circumstances were not closely related, however, I can relate to the false perceptions women have of their bodies and being drawn into the negative ideals of sex and men. In the story Anna bleaches her hair, works out, and fantasizes about boys in shining armor. At such young ages girls are doing everything they can to fit in and look attractive to the opposite sex. I thought that getting my nails done, wearing tight jeans, and tight shirts would make me more attractive to others.  Also, Anna would read romance novels, like her mother, which over-glamorizes sex, violence, and inferiority. Sittenfeld writes “The man and woman are attracted to each other, they quarrel, they end up alone together, they have wild sex. The women say they don’t want it but they really do” (p. 5). I have read numerous of books when I was younger that put emphasis on sex and violence such as the “The Coldest Winter Ever” by Sista Souljah and “Flyy Girl” by Omar Tyree. These books have young girls in them that go through life where sex, money, and men are made to be significant and influential. These aspects that Sittenfield is writing about in his story can relate to any young girl black, white, or Hispanic. It’s amazing that Anna had never discussed any of her worries or doubts with someone else. The advice she received from her grandmother didn’t help her confusion out when she said “Learn to dance. And be a good conversationalist. Read book reviews, and even read the newspaper from time to time, in case he’s an intellectual. Never turn down a date because he might have a handsome brother” (p. 6). Girls need advice, they need someone to talk to about their problems, and they need someone to unfold the mysteries they have playing in their heads.
 Goldwasser, Amy. Red
The stories in “Anything Extracurricular” were wonderful stories of what young girls deal with and what’s important to them. What they go threw can define their purpose in life. Losing a horse, a mother being ill, and a trip to china can be more that what it seems to a young girl. It’s important that these young woman can express what they are feeling and dealing with. I think that in Sittenfeld’s piece that Anna wasn’t able to express herself and unfold the problems that she was feeling. The girl in “Anything Extracurrilcular” was talking about their interests and what was important to them. It was nice to read about how young girls dare to dream, or what activities they are involved in, or what makes them who they are. Especially in “Pediatrics” by Jaclyn Humphrey she knew what she wanted to do with her life and where she was going, she says, “Then a recent experience put life in perspective and made it clear to me, in a grown-up way, that becoming a doctor was truly my purpose in life” (p.191). Wow! Her strength was amazing and heartfelt. What she went through in life helped her for the future. I love it!

If Only I Knew Then What I do Now....

Hey! I’m Merritt Johnson, I’m currently a junior and an ad/pr major here at University fo central Florida. I am from the Keys and loveeee being outside and in the water. I am a big animal lover and love volunteering at the local shelter in the keys. My mom and I trapped over 40 feral cats got them spayed and neutered and feed them every day. I have a little sister that’s 13, her hormones are now raging, but we are like best friends. I took women’s studies with professor Preston this summer, and got a lot out of it and loved it. I am also currently enrolled in her WST 3621 class this semester.

I didn't really relate myself to Anna, in “Your Life As a Girl”. I have never been athletic, yet I was not the homecoming queen or anything like that. For awhile I tried cheerleading, soccer, softball, lacrosse, only to find I’m very un-coordinated. I hung out with the pretty popular girls only to realize they were fake and not my friend. At that point, I didn’t care who I hung out with or what I was characterized I hung out with the people who liked me for me, jocks, goths, gays, preppies. You’re better off in my opinion if your friends with everyone. It seemed as if Anna had no control of the situation and she had no identity for herself. I did agree with how Sittenfeld showed how girls are never pretty enough or always feel insecure. I know that during middle school, I was quite the outcast. I had braces, pimples, my hair was frizzy. In high school, I grew up real fast and suddenly everyone, including the boys were really nice to me. I have always been a good judge of character and I knew they were not my true friends as they hated me when I was awkward but now that I’m pretty and fun they like me?! It hit a home with me, as my sister is now in 8th grade. She is getting boobs, pimples and quite moody. All of her friends switch friends every week, gossip about boys on the phone and have constant drama. These things are something that I do not miss. My mom always used to give me advice in middle and high school and she’d say “believe me, I would have been the most popular girl with all the boys if I knew then what I do now.” Of course, I didn’t listen to her but as I get older I realized she’s right. I related to Sittenfields quote, “Everything about you is horrifying, your voice, body, hair, inability to be witty and panicky desires for approval and companionship.” She also says in high school, you are either a slut or a prude, which I found to be true. If you had sex you were a slut and if you didn’t you were a prude? So either way you could not win.

I found the stories in Red to be more uplifting and happy. I liked the Story of Kirsten Oldroyd, and her first true love. Honestly, I started reading it because it was about her “first true love” ad I thought I’d get sucked into a 13 year olds love story, as I was always crushing on boys and falling in love fast. Truth is her story is much deer and has a great meaning. She was only 13, I was more like 16. For her, her love was rock wall climbing. I loved how she said on page 180, “I’ve met some of the most amazing and interesting people through climbing. They accept me for who I am and help me figure out who that is.” She also tells how there are still labels there like jocks and tatted up girls but everyone’s falling down and asking for help. I think this story was very inspiring how at 13, this girl realizes who she is and is not scared about being herself and learning about others. I only wish that my sister turns out to be open minded and be a leader!

Beginning to scrape the surface

Hey class, I’m Mary. I’m a recently converted Interdisciplinary Studies student on the Women’s Studies track with a minor in literature, which means I’ll probably be at UCF for way longer than the average business student. I’m one of those people that can be halfway through their undergraduate degree with still no idea what I want to do with said degree when I finish. I am, however, growing more passionate about my activism, particularly with equal rights (animals’, womens’ GLBTQ, what have you. I’m not picky). I spend most of my time (when not in school or at work) writing, daydreaming, thrift-shopping, and making things. I’m taking the girls’ studies class mainly because last semester in my first few womens’ studies classes, I realized how insane my own girlhood was and how many issues girls face today. I’d like to be able to help girls’ in some capacity, because I know just how difficult it can be.

I felt “Your Life as a Girl” captured girlhood in a sense, but it might have been exaggerated to keep it universal. It certainly did universal- several times in the story I heard my own voice or the voice of my friends repeating back those lines to me, like “But you want love now, you want to have a boy standing there after you’ve failed a French test” or hearing a relative say things like “never turn down a date, because he might have a handsome brother.” Sittenfeld outlined what could be considered the typical American girl’s adolescence, but Anna, the everygirl, lacks a distinct personality as she gets older. That could be a statement in itself, though, responding to the pressures that the girls face that make it difficult for them to embrace their own identity. I also thought that the narrative was more about the general victimization girls have to face for existing than anything else.

The essays by the girls in Red seem to refute this, showing their personalities through their writing- writing that impressed me, being strong and spirited and eloquent. Reading the essays, I felt like even the girls that didn’t claim to know who they were knew at least that much, and were okay with it. There are hints in those stories that harken back to “Your Life as a Girl,” but they are ultimately more empowering for girls.

It hasn’t been so long since I’ve been a girl, being that I’ve only just turned twenty, but the essays in “Anything Extracurricular” reminded me just what it was like. I noticed in most of the essys, “East,” “The Hamptons,” and “Alone” in particular, that the writers shared a sense of defensiveness in the things/places/people they loved. I liked that underlying almost aggressiveness- or maybe it’s more accurately an unapologetic tone. It’s unapologetic even when the girls aren’t necessarily sure of themselves, like when Lindsay in “Alone” pleads with her friend to stay at the end of the essay and allows herself to express sadness even though she knows she loves to be alone. I definitely related to “Alone,” as it was something I struggled with (and still do sometimes when I feel like I really should be going out instead of reading at home) when I was in middle and high school.

Let me know if you have any thoughts. :) I really look forward to taking this class with you all!

Friday, August 28, 2009

I ain't no Hollaback Grrrl!

Hi everyone I’m Anita, but I go by Ani. I am originally from Michigan, so I hate this Florida heat. My time is spent reading, cleaning obsessively, and watching really trashy reality TV. I’m the girl in class that speaks way too much, I’m almost positive that every time I raise my hand people roll their eyes. My height has reached its peak at 5’1” but my voice never shakes. Growing up I thought I was supposed to be a boy, but my love of fashion and gossip helped me form a few friendships with girls. Now I realize that my reproductive organs should not determine how I act/love/speak/dream. I hope to one day earn a PhD. in Social Psychology, and create programs to help school boards minimize violence against open/out GLBT youth. I am taking this class for two reasons didn’t fit into my schedule the first time it was offered and came very highly recommended 2. I want to critically analyze why girls like me feel so out of place.

Sittenfeld, Curtis. “Your Life as a Girl”
I found the overall tone of this article to be very realistic. I could definitely relate to the four square incident, to this day I am constantly being “checked” as to how competitive I become, where my male counter parts are free to do as they please. The girl in the story went through a transformation of being care free and happy to being worried and possibly anxiety ridden. I would have loved for her to take a stand and become the girl she was at the beginning of the story but I understand that most girls do not find that solace ever again. I enjoyed that there was no real separation with years other than in the text. There also was no specific age given, I feel this made it much more real. Those years seemed to go by so fast and when you were done with a school year I always looked back on them hazily as if they were a drunken memory.

Red: The next generation of American writers.
Out of all of the stories I could relate the most to two; “The Management” and “Alone”. I have had a few bosses that might not have been drunk like in “the Management” but I have had a boss question my strength and intelligence as a girl, let alone customers that call me “little lady” and “missy”. Working with people is especially difficult when you do so from a feminist mindset. You might not want to yell at your boss for perpetuating patriarchy because the money is something you need, you can’t always tell customers that they are sexist and try to teach them about gender equality. Anna Saxon is 17 and has learned a very tough lesson of sometimes you just have to play the hand you’re dealt and hope for the best. The good thing is that she has a new boss that seems to better than the last.

Lindsay Sellers, “Alone”, describes exactly how I feel about life. I was so happy that she was able to use this medium to say that it is OK to be happy when alone. When she states “I can’t tell him that visiting simply doesn’t afford me enough privacy” (pg207), I think of how I felt when I first started dating. There was this weird pull of where I should spend my time. Who should I make happy, this man I love or myself. At times I still feel selfish but the truth is that sometimes you have to look out for yourself. Hopefully Lindsay will find a man that respects her needs and lifestyle, so that she doesn’t have to be in that awkward situation. Lindsay states “every once in a while, I do wish that a friend were there” (207) like her I am too still looking for that balance of aloneness and friendship.

I said "Hey! What's Goin' On?"

My Life as a Girl / Your Life as a Girl

Mini autobiography:

Hello friends! My name is Misty and I’m a Senior here at UCF. My major is Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Physical Sciences and Humanities, as well as Minors in Theatre and Women’s Studies. I sing in the a cappella club, I’m an honors student, and I love to act in films. I’m taking this class because I’m very passionate about Women’s Studies, and also because I have a 15 year old sister and I want to be able to relate to what she is going through. I’m so excited for this class and look forward to working with all of you J

Sittenfeld, Your Life as a Girl:

I feel that Sittenfeld did capture girlhood effectively. To start, her style of writing was hectic and fast-paced, much like my own hectic and fast-paced experience of growing up as an adolescent and into my teens. The cruelty shown by her male classmates with the use of female-specific vocabulary was an accurate portrayal of how, once differences have begun to be discovered between boys and girls in middle and high school, a new discourse is created to further stereotypes and derogatory, sexist language. Middle school was the first time I encountered such discourse toward/dealing with young women.

The desire Anna has about wanting attention from her male classmates and the delicate balance she has yet to find between gaining that attention and “overstepping her boundaries” is something I believe many girls go through. What struck me most profoundly was the transition of Anna’s thoughts from a younger, more carefree 5th grader, to a nervous, insecure teenager who envies boys and is so affected by what they think of her. Sittenfeld’s story may not relate to every girl and their experience through girlhood simply because every girl is different, not every girl went to boarding school, not every girl was into sports, etc. However, she effectively captured the essence of the general insecurities and feelings of confusion that are so prominent in girlhood.

The stories written by the girls in RED were fantastic. The intuitive first person narratives were easy to read and made the stories personal and emotive. Sittenfeld’s story was much more intense, and covered a longer time period, than any of the stories in RED. Both Sittenfeld and the girls had the same curious feel in their stories, with questions left unanswered, but the stories in RED felt more real- probably because they were. Also, the stories in RED were much more uplifting: Mini finds her confidence on the rock climbing wall, Jaclyn discovers that her purpose in life is to be a doctor and is hopeful even after her mother is attacked, whereas Anna in Sittenfeld’s story takes more of a passive approach to her problems.

The girls who did not get as much out of their experience as they initially expected, like Samantha who did not win the Scripps National Spelling Bee, or Kelly who did not get enough time with her horse before it passed, still find positive things to take away from their journeys. I particularly liked the stories written by Lindsay about being alone, and Erika who spent two summers in China, because they internalize their experiences until they are rich with meaning. These stories remind me that teenage girls are bright and observant, emotionally in-tune with themselves and aware of the world around them. They already have so much of the essence of the person they are going to be, and it is refreshing to read such honest prose.

The Gap between Adult Memories and Teenage Experiences

Hi Everyone,

My name is Amanda. As there are multiple Amanda’s here, I shall be known, henceforth, as Amanda W. : ) I have a teenage daughter. I’m taking this class because I need a more objective viewpoint in regard to her. It was not that long ago that I was a teenage girl but I was different from my daughter in many ways. (At least, my memory of myself is different from her.) She is very dramatic about seemingly everything. (I do not like drama.) I’m hoping this class will help me to put her attitudes and behaviors into perspective. I also hope it will help me to remember what it was really like for me as a 13-year-old girl. In this way, I hope to be able to relate to her better.

Onto the readings….

I first read the section from Red. I was surprised at the high quality (and vocabulary) of writing some of these very young girls created. I enjoyed the whole “Anything Extracurricular” section. There were two essays in particular that I’d like to discuss.

“Apiarian Days” by Samantha Gillogly, 18, reminded me of a time in my own life. I too, was in spelling bees and, like Samantha, played the violin. (I was also in Massachusetts.) She described the feelings exactly as I remember them. When she finally gets a word she’s uncertain of, it felt like “the only things missing… [were] a lit cigarette and several shotguns aimed at my person” (198). She uses every tactic available to stall and/or grasp some sort of clue as to how to spell the word that will otherwise end it (months of preparation) all. I have memories of the same situation. I was in fifth grade and “figured it would be a piece of cake…. [until I realized there were] More than 9,000 words. I have to study this? Terrific. Thus began a three-month odyssey” (199).

What does this story tell me about girls? Well, what this one tells me about this one girl is that she is being refreshingly honest, because I can remember the exact feelings she described. It also reminds me that, although kids may be venturing on a journey that we (as parents/adults) are unfailingly proud of, we should remember that it might be just a tiny bit terrifying for them. If that is the case, a little empathy could go a long way.

Another story that I found interesting was Erika Kwee’s (age 16) “East”. Erika goes into all the things she learned on her trip, all of which were a result of “teenage life happening” (184). Two lessons she learned that I think most girls (or women) eventually learn are pretty important, because they are life lessons- in that they unfortunately continue to be true as you move into adulthood.

The first lesson I am referring to is that the “seemingly most sweet person you could ever hope to meet can be a totally different person around boys. And you just can’t keep forgiving her for that” (185). This is a tough lesson to learn because it means that you were wrong about said person. It also means that you do not know who the person really is. Further, this begins a conflict between being among fellow females in the vicinity of males and not being around both genders at the same time. The second lesson many women learn is “that everyone loves a girl who never gets upset but that very, very, very few members of the human population possess this genetic makeup” (185). This is a hard lesson because it teaches girls that they should never get upset and if (when) they do get upset, they should hide their feelings. If a girl does show that she is upset, she is made to feel inferior (to girls that hide their feelings better than she does or to boys in general).

Besides the lessons Erika learned, there was another reason I was interested in her story. Erika starts her story off as follows: “My trip to China is a secret. Not a secret in the dictionary definition way, because my parents had to arrange [the trip]…. But it’s a secret in the way that no one outside of our small group knows what we really got out of it” (184). When her parents asked her how her month-long trip to China was, she “only mumbled, ‘Good,’ not really knowing what to say” (186). What is interesting about this to me, is that Erika had just concluded a two page long essay about her trip and everything she had learned. Yet she did not think or feel that she could share all of that (or any of it, for that matter) with her parents. What this tells me about girls and their parents is that there needs to be trust so that the teen feels like she can share details without being made to feel silly or dumb. It also shows me that parents need to ask better or more questions. If you ask questions that require a one-word response, that is what you will get. If you ask more open ended questions, you can communicate more fully with your teen/child.

In Curtis Sittenfeld’s “Your Life as a Girl”, I do not think she effectively captures “girlhood”. As I read her essay, it occurred to me that she was writing more as an outside observer, than as an “insider”. She could have very well been writing autobiographically, however, she seemed quite removed from the incidents she wrote about. Many of the incidents Sittenfeld referred to, I could relate to in my own memories of being a girl. The difference between her writing and that of the girls in Red, was that Sittenfeld seemed to be writing from a third person point of view, while the girls in Red wrote first-person accounts. To me, it seemed that Sittenfeld was writing as an adult, reflecting on significant memories she held of her “life as a girl”. As memories, she wrote what had stood the test of time in her mind. I am sure, though, that had she recorded her thoughts and feelings of each event as they happened (while a girl), the results would have been exponentially more complex than what Sittenfeld expressed.

Some questions:
If you are a “grownup” and have a relationship with a teenage girl (or multiple teenage girls), did anything we read this week help you in any way with that relationship?

If you are a teenager (or not), what do you think your parent(s)/caregivers could have done to help you become more confident/happy/successful than you are now?

If you are very confident/happy/successful, is there anything your parent(s)/caregivers did that you attribute that to? If so, what is it?

~Amanda W.