girls studies

i spent this past weekend coordinating childcare for the women’s gathering at twin oaks.  mostly, it meant hanging out with a gaggle of awesome two year olds who didn’t really need my attention because they mostly took care of each other.  peripheral to the childcare space was a group of girls ranging in age from 7 to 13.  they ran around in a loose pack and acted like all manner of girl.  at one point they went around asking different women who they liked more: taylor swift or selena gomez.  there was clearly a divide between the girls and there were different wrong and right answers.  many women deflected, others didn’t have any idea who either girl was and i, in an effort to re-ground this group of awesome tweens, said i liked neither, said instead that i liked panther woman, cheetah girl, willa, jasley and martina.  that i liked them.  my answer was immediately dismissed and they moved on with a roll of the eyes and an exasperated exhale.  i found this display of teen idol worship slightly distressing as it came on the heels of a concerned friend who doesn’t want her daughter to be so influenced by media representations of and normative social training for girls.  then, on the dance floor, i was struck by a brilliant idea.  i want to start leading “girls studies” classes.  something for girls who are super saturated by society’s expectations of how they’ll look, how they’ll act and how they’ll interact with the world.  sort of the precursor to women’s studies.

and i am sooooo stoked to start working on the curriculum.  right now i have a vague progression painting with broad strokes in my head.  first we’ll start with an exploration of how the girls i’m working with perceive themselves, how they imagine their lives progressing, what they think it is to be a girl.  asking questions like: what do girls do?  what do girls play?  then i want to take media representations of girls and do critical analysis.  ask what we’re being taught about ourselves, what we’re supposed to be learning from the images and lyrics and roles women and girls play in different media.  then, interspersed throughout i want to be studying historical representations of girls and women, finding alternative role models from the past and present who represent yet another wonderful facet of girl-hood.

and i’m not trying to squash the more traditionally supported forms of girl, but rather to facilitate intentional self identity creation.  instead of just assuming the role models they’re given and the social format their expected to follow, i want girls to be critical and clear in their identity choices.

when i came home talking a mile a minute about this idea, my housemate emma who’s still in high school, got really excited and wanted to take the class too.  i think i’ll try to encourage her to help me co-facilitate a class here in charlottesville through a local home schooling group.  if you have any ideas or suggestions for material to use (i’m thinking some tiffany aching books–written by terry pratchett–and some willow smith are in order), or if you want me to send you curriculum as i’m developing it, i would love to hear from you!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. paxus
    Aug 20, 2011 @ 05:18:26

    this is brilliant. i am happy for you

    Reply

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