As many of you know, I started a group for girls at my high school. The girls come in and we talk about all sorts of things that pertain just to them. This is completely volunteer on my part – I’m not paid to host this group – and the girls give up an hour of their time every week to come to my classroom after school and talk about issues they care about. So far, it’s been therapeutic and enlightening to say the least. We started with a little mini-lecture on feminism and what it entails. Then we started talking about body image and, specifically, their need to wear makeup every day. The girls took it upon themselves to plan a no makeup day, which went really well. They actually found that they didn’t need makeup to feel beautiful. We’ve had visitors talk to them about everything from college to friendships to getting the most out of their lives. We’ve discussed why boys feel the need to make fun of their membership in this group – this is the first time these boys have ever been oppressed (in this case, told they cannot come to these meetings) based on their gender and they don’t like it. We’ve talked about “girl toys” versus “boy toys” and why girls are underrepresented in science and math classes. Next week, we’re going to start talking about dating violence among teenagers. We’ve done all this in once-a-week meetings since December 13, 2011.
They call themselves Fearless Females. And they are just that.
Frankly, these meetings are the highlight of my week. I feel like I’m making a difference with these girls, and I feel like they are becoming stronger and, if it’s even possible, more fearless because of the things we talk about. Best of all, they’re thinking differently about who they are and what they want to be. They’re asking the right questions, and finding words for the gender-based injustices they see in the world.
Most importantly, these girls are becoming part of an international community of women. They are starting to realize that their hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities, and injustices are universal. They are starting to realize that it’s not cool to say, “I prefer being friends with boys because girls are crazy.” They are starting to understand what it means to band together. Strength is in numbers.
I hope my girls will go on to do well… and to do good for the international community of women, even if it is in some small way like what I am doing with them – talking, listening, creating awareness. I believe they will.
This post is part of the Blog for International Women’s Day event at Gender Across Borders and CARE. Find out more here.