You won’t allow me to go to school.
I won’t become a doctor.
One day you will be sick.
Poem written by an 11 year old Afghan girl
This poem was recorded in a NYT magazine article about female underground poetry groups in Afghanistan. An amazing article about the ways in which women are using a traditional two line poetry form to express their resistance to male oppression, their feelings about love (considered blasphemous).
Chibok residents said that they had heard the terrorist group Boko Haram was coming to the town up to two hours before the kidnapping of over 300 schoolgirls. The military only sent more troops several hours after the abduction. Alexis Okeowo writes about the troubled search for Nigeria’s girls: http://nyr.kr/1nj2tD3
Above: Mothers of kidnapped schoolgirls in Chibok, Maiduguri, Borno State. Photograph: Stringer/Reuters.
I’m currently reading a lot about the way teenagers use social media, partly for my thesis, and partly based on fascination. One of the aspects that interest me in this context is the connection of speech/voice and space in relation to the new possibilities of the internet.
I just finished danah boyd’s great new book It’s Complicated, an in-depth study of kids’ social media use.Teenagers are increasingly isolated by “overprotecting” parents. As danah boyd argues, a result is that physical space where young people can just hang out with peers is vanishing, and the social media platforms give them an alternate space to socialize.
There is also an argument to be made that thanks to social media, “youth as a protected space” is evaporating, it is changing everyone’s self-consciousness. Sady Doyle discusses this aspect in a recent article at In These Times, and points out that young women aren’t “unarmed” in the “social media wars.” Young women are often uniquely equipped to handle the different pressures; for them, the Internet is home turf, they don’t know a world without it. Social media does have good things to offer, creating pro-girl resources like Rookie Mag, Scarleteen, and numerous tumblrs.
The indoor shooting range at Archery In The Wild in Northern Colorado used to be dominated by camouflage and hunters. But on this Saturday morning, the archery range is dotted with ponytails and 7-year-old girls like Y’Jazzmin Christopher.
The popularity of The Hunger Games series is fueling an interest in the sport of archery, particularly among girls. Some sporting equipment outfitters say they’ve seen a big boost in bow and arrow sales since the film series began in 2012.
Following in the footsteps of Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen, who’s fiercely talented with a bow and arrow, was one reason Y’Jazzmin came through the door here this fall.
Her mom, Alicia Christopher, says positive reinforcement has kept her daughter coming back. Y’Jazzmin competed in her first tournament earlier this month.
“Watching the way that she’s developed confidence in what she’s doing — she’s very confident,” Alicia says. “She used to be a really shy person but now she’s opening socially.”
Alicia recently purchased a recurve bow for Y’Jazzmin. It cost about $130. And while that may sound pricey, archery store owner Boyd Wild says the high demand for recurve bows — the type Katniss uses in The Hunger Games — makes it hard to keep some models in stock.
I recently discovered this collection of short stories by J.D. Salinger in my parents’ basement. I wish I’d discovered it years earlier, for a simple egoistic reason: I might’ve enjoyed the book more before I sharpened my feminist-critical blades. Before I grew weary of male novelist tropes. (Passages of the text could easily be more male novelist jokes.)
”A Perfect Day for Bananafish” is a great opener, in the way “Table for Glasses” is a great opener to Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity: Slow, slightly creepy, depressing, both unexpected and a quintessence of the artist’s work.
Salinger deals in American disillusionment. Most of his characters are smack in the middle of middle/upper-class America, and all want to escape from (banal) torment. Through stories (“The Laughing Man”!), drink, and death. The writing is simple, precise, elegant in the peculiar way that distinguishes Salinger.
“For Esmé – with Love and Squalor” is brilliant, but not unproblematic. The first half is creepy in a similar vein as “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” – the central character is very, very fascinated with a girl. I feared that it might turn too Lolita, but turns into a story of innocence shelled to smithereens in a grinding war. This story seems to be the most autobiographical of the texts by Salinger I’ve read, making it both impressive and disturbing.
“For Esmé” is the apex of the collection. I’m afraid that the last three stories are almost tedious. I barely remember a line or situation from “Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes.” “Teddy” reminded me a lot of John Irving, specifically Owen Meany. The story unfortunately is more a great sketch for a planned novel than an amazing short story. “De Daumier-Smith’s Blue Period” is the type of self-indulgent tortured white young (upper class) artist rambling I would’ve loved 10 years ago but can barely stand today. However, as with many other Salinger stories, things could not be as straightforward as they seem.
“Things might have been different if she hadn’t been able to drift; if she’d had to concentrate on her next meal, instead of dwelling on all the injuries she felt we’d done her. An unearned income encourages self-pity in those already prone to it.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
This is a interesting text by Lisa Bloom on how to talk to little girls – without reinforcing the belief/stereotype/pressure that their looks are the most important thing about a girl. The basic idea is to engage girls of all ages in a conversation about things they like – books, for example – besides being pretty. I think encouraging that the girls think that they are pretty themselves is also good, but I like the idea of it not making the first, central point of your interaction with the child.
(Via genderblog on facebook)
My stories are not uncommon. They’re more common than we want to think. As my friend Panic said: “Ask anyone who is or has been a teenaged girl. 15-yr-old boys assaulting women is common. It’s ‘normal.’” It’s so normal, in fact, that we don’t talk about it until we’re women and we know it doesn’t have to be.
Pretty much everything in North American culture tells men and boys that women and girls are there for them. So please, do us some favours. Stop telling us that we have to take self defence. Stop telling us we shouldn’t drink or go out at night or on dates. Stop telling us that we need to be prepared for whatever “boys-be-boys” violations come our ways, because it’s bullshit. We don’t have to accept this or carry it around in silence.
Start talking with men and boys about the messages they’re getting about women and girls. Tell them that they are not entitled to our bodies, no matter what. Talk to them honestly and comprehensively about sexualization and objectification. Stop being afraid to talk about boundaries, sex, and pleasure—leaving that to schools, the Internet, and peers is simply not cutting it. Show them what consent really looks like.
Powerful text on the not-uncommon sexual harassment many teen-age girls experience – often by teen-age boys.
Beantown Mom, a blogger over at Daily Kos, tells the harrowing story of how her 16-year old daughter was slut-shamed for simply being on the pill. High school kids have always been mean and used excuses to pick on ‘weaker’ kids, and there has pretty much always been slut-shaming, but in this case the harassing girls specifically mentioned Rush Limbaugh’s “women who are on birth control are sluts”-comments that they and their mothers apparently believe.
This is just so, so wrong. Not only is slut-shaming wrong in general – it is here specifically caused by a powerful male commentator who has nothing to do with raising a teenage girl that took a low level birth control pill to ease her significant health problems.
Plus, I think a rational approach to birth control is such an important aspect of good sex education that keeps women and girls* from exactly what these ultraconservative commentators also shame: Being pregnant too early. Even if many parents don’t want their teenagers to be sexually active – many are, or at least want to, when they’re around 16. I think it’s important – and from my experience it’s quite common in Germany – that when parents (mothers) have ‘the talk’ with their daughters* that it includes safe sex measures and (hormonal) birth control. Mothers convincing their daughters that girls who use birth control are ‘sluts’ (read as: bad) – that’s just wrong and, in my opinion, dangerous.
I’m not saying that every 16-year old has or wants sex or that every teenage girl should be on the pill, but it should be a viable option. I also don’t think that having sex (or kids) at a young age is inherently wrong – but it can be problematic.. And if you add the virgin/whore dichotomy, societal pressure to both be ‘sexy’ and innocent plus general and individual boys pressure to have sex as a sign of ‘loving’ to the mix, it’s almost a lose/lose situation for young women* (especially when they don’t have good support from their mothers/other important people in their lives.)
Now how perfidious it is that people like Limbaugh not only shame girls for taking care of themselves but also are against comprehensive sex education, access to safe abortions and support (welfare or otherwise) for young mothers/parents, that requires another post.
[*And other people who can get pregnant. I write mainly about mothers/daughters because I think this is a special mother/daughter thing – at least in my experience and from what I read in the text. But most of it also applies to other genders/- combinations]