Last night I attended an event hosted by the Ms. Foundation for Women. A discussion was led by their President and CEO, Anika Rahman entitled: Combatting the War on Women. As we all introduced ourselves and said why we were there, many of the women identified themselves as feminists. I proudly shared that I was the Executive Director of Powerful Voices and we are an organization that supports young women in developing their own strengths, so they can take action to promote social justice. Another guest exclaimed with excitement, "The Third Wave!" I replied, "Or maybe the Fourth."
Honestly, I didn't think to much about my comment before I spoke, but now I have. Do we need a Fourth Wave? I don't know. In the end it's really just semantics. What we do need is a feminist movement that embraces the voices and actions of girls. While Third Wave feminism embodies anti-racist
theory, rejects a gender binary, and embraces "girl power," I think we still have a ways to go in addressing the adultism inherent in our organizing. When the War on Women emerged as a topic of the nightly news I kept wondering, where is the youth voice? Where is the Girlvolution?
As we combat the War on Women, I think it is time for us to start re-framing it as the War on Women and Girls. When adults hear our politicians speak about "legitimate rape" or observe contentious debates about access to health care - they hear it from the framework of an adult with privilege. Adults have a voice in our electorate, the right to control their own finances and make decisions about their own health care. How do these voices make girls feel? How does this make girls feel? Where does their power lay? What do they think? What do they care about? What do they want to change? Who will listen and take them seriously? And
what if their definition of the War on Women/Girls is different than
These are the questions that motivate and inspire me to be part of Powerful Voices. I want to be part of a community where girls and adults work in partnership to promote social justice. We need to listen to each other as we move forward to address the disparities that weaken our community.
I saw this happening over the past 12 weeks during the creation, production and launch of Powerful Voices' newest zine, A Chosen Generation, though we still have a long way to go. In a focus group conducted this week, many of the girls told staff that they wanted to take on a more meaningful leadership role in programming. Now is the time to listen.
Reading the first page of the zine I was reminded that the Girlvolution already lives in every girl and needs opportunities to be ignited, heard, and valued :
We are the chosen generation that will rise to succeed in life.
We are sisters from all different kinds of backgrounds that come from good and bad.
We come together as a team and work hard to reach the top.
We are heard from the tone we speak in our community.
WE are teenagers, not adults.
We are young girls that come together two days out of the week to create a zine to present to our community/environment.
We talk about things that are not only important in life but things that have an important impact on our lives.
We are loved and
We will Rise...