A Fierce & Fabulous Day of the Girl

The first-ever International Day of the Girl is happening today. Schools, organizations, and individuals around the world are all signed up to be a part of the celebration. My school, Elisabeth Irwin High School, had its assembly this past Tuesday, and I enjoyed it immensely.

We also teamed up with an all-girls school in Kolkata, India, who are also having their assembly for International Day of the Girl today. Their school is called Shri Shikshayatan, and we got to see pictures of them preparing for their own event. It was exciting to watch them getting ready for the same event we were, because we got to see how global this movement is. Some of us will also be visiting them later on in the school year in Kolkata to learn about feminism on a global scale. I am extremely excited to visit India and to learn how I can really help women all over the world get an education and be treated as equals.

I became a part of this movement by joining the Fierce & Fabulous Feminism class at my school, taught by Ileana Jiménez. We prepared for the assembly by reading the works of great feminist authors like Audre Lorde and bell hooks, and writing about our personal experiences with privilege and oppression through intersectionality.

Intersectionality is the idea that certain aspects of who you are, including your race, class, gender, sexuality, language, location, etc., intersect on many levels that can lead to all types of societal oppression. I wrote my essay about race, class, sexuality, and location, and used quotes from Lorde, Bonnie Thorton Dill, and Jamaica Kincaid.

My favorite piece was by Kincaid called “Girl,” which focuses on how girls are expected to act. I quoted Kincaid in my own intersectionality piece: “this is how to bully a man; this is how a man bullies you; this is how to love a man; and if that doesn’t work there are other ways, and if they don’t work don’t feel too bad about giving up.”

We had several guest speakers come and teach us about the oppression of women around the world, especially in India, because of the school we are partnered with there. They talked about female infanticide, trafficking, domestic violence, and girls education.

We also watched videos from organizations like 10×10 Educate Girls, the documentary Half the Sky, and the informational video The Girl Effect, and ended up showing many of these videos at our assembly.

Our assembly went well over all. I read a section of my essay about being raised as a “Southern lady,” and having family from the South. I talked about how this class has changed my perspective on being a white woman from the South. My favorite part of my essay was when I quoted Lorde from her essay “The Masters Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”: “‘If white American feminist theory need not deal with the differences between us, and the resulting difference in our oppressions, then how do you deal with the fact that the women who clean your houses and tend to your children while you attend conferences on feminist theory are, for the most part, poor women and women of Color? What is the theory behind racist feminism?”

No matter what my race, the history of my family, or the views of my 87-year-old grandma, I know what it means to be a girl from the South and be a feminist as well. It means not being defined by the opinions or beliefs of others. It means being a woman who has high expectations for all people, including herself.” If felt like many people could relate to trying to connect feminism to other parts of who we are as people and as women.

My feminism class presented an International Day of the Girl assembly this year (photo credit: Laura Hahn).

Others in the class shared many interesting facts and statistics about all that we had learned to try and get people interested in helping girls around the world. Most of all, we tried to stress that education is the best way to help girls globally. The Girl Effect video, which everyone should watch, was a powerful tool, because, although it is a little vague, I think it shows the impact that an education can really have on the life of a girl, and how it can change her life from being subservient to men, to trying to find her own path.

I think the audience connected to many of these essays, and were startled by the videos, but perhaps spurred into action. I had a lot of fun watching people read anecdotes from their essays, and watching my classmates get the audience as interested and excited about helping with equality for women all around the world as my whole class is.

I loved doing this assembly, and I am excited to continue with my feminism class!

12 thoughts on “A Fierce & Fabulous Day of the Girl

  1. Loved the group picture. I like how you referenced the guest speakers to preface our learning of oppression on levels of gender, sex, and class in India. Interesting critique on the Girl Effect Video, I agreed it was powerful I used it in my post as well, though what did you find vague? Just wondering.

  2. “this is how to bully a man; this is how a man bullies you; this is how to love a man; and if that doesn’t work there are other ways, and if they don’t work don’t feel too bad about giving up.”
    This strikes me because I feel like you really connect to the way that gender is used as a power dynamic for control of the other gender. It makes it clear that a girl is also trapped by her own circumstances in relation to the men around her.

  3. You said, “I think the audience connected to many of these essays, and were startled by the videos, but perhaps spurred into action”. Do you think people will take action by possibly getting involved with one of the organizations? Did anyone say anything to you about the assembly and its meaning afterwards?

  4. You hit the nail really hard on intersectionality. I love how you used lots of the passages we read in class for your piece and how it connects to interesectionality. I also like how you wrote that women have expectations on how to act, especially from Kincaid’s piece. I thought that this was a great piece that you chose to write on your blog.

  5. I’d like to start off with saying how wonderful your commentary on intersectionality was and how you also hit issues such as the power dynamic within the gender norms. I also loved the way you redefined what being a southern lady means to; “It means not being defined by the opinions or beliefs of others. It means being a woman who has high expectations for all people, including herself.” This is so inspiring and I hope that many others take the lead. I also enjoyed the way you stated your expectations of the assembly audience as well as your view on feminism in a global spectrum.

  6. Amazing piece, Livia. It was great having you give an outline of everything you have learnt so far, and how you got involved in the Feminist movement. It will really be an amazing experience to relate everything we have learnt in class, to real life. Visiting India and seeing the differences and comparisons in our lives will surely be a revelation. I agree, when you say your views about being white has changed. I feel the same. It opens your eyes and makes you realise just how many luxuries we have had, just by the colour of skin we were born with. The segment you read out, about your views of your 87 year old grandma were really interesting. It is weird to think that every single person has their own individual story that is entirely different from someone else, yet we can all agree on certain things – the fact that girls deserve and need an education. I mean, everyone on here agrees with that fact, so now we just have to work on everyone else in the world. This blog post, will surely help to open someones eyes. Well done.

  7. You went into great detail on intersectionality and really had some great insight. I think it is cool how this feminism course has changed your perspective on being a southern woman; it seems like this course has really opened up new perspectives on identity for everyone. The Audre Lorde quotation you use is really powerful and very relative to the rest of your blogpost. Great job!

  8. In your piece, you managed to make me reflect on an idea I had not yet stumbled upon, you say, “I know what it means to be a girl from the South and be a feminist as well. It means not being defined by the opinions or beliefs of others. It means being a woman who has high expectations for all people, including herself.” If felt like many people could relate to trying to connect feminism to other parts of who we are as people and as women.” I defiantly agree with this and feel like you also got a great and deep understanding and insight of what is intersectionality and why it is key to the feminist movement as a whole. I can also relate to you when you say that your views on your own race and skin color have changed since you have been in the class because so have mine. Although it is a long process I have learned, similarly to you to admit, and own up to my privileges and to be proud of the things that cause me oppression because these are all part of me.

  9. Very descriptive analysis of our International Day of the Girl assembly. I wish you would have discussed or elaborated upon the beliefs and opinions that your family and southern folks consider to be a “southern lady.” What are some of the customs and habits that these elders believe a girl most posses in order to be considered a “women.”

  10. I’m proud of you, Livia, and all of you at LREI for doing such important work, learning about social justice and improving the lives of women and girls around the world!

  11. Why did Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” resonate with you?

    I like how you talk about your own identity as a “Southern lady”, and then, through Audre Lorde’s “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”, critique the divisions between white, upper-middle class feminists, poor women, and women of color. Here, you are not afraid to talk about race, which is inspiring and commendable. In my own life, I’ve gotten this sense that white women shouldn’t talk about race and class, and have been taught to believe that only women of color and poorer women can address such subjects. However, you did something very important, through Audre Lorde’s piece, you call out the issues that still exist between women.

  12. A thoughtful post! I especially appreciated how much you saw how the readings and videos we read and watched leading up to our assembly informed what we shared with our larger school community. I’m especially proud of you for sharing excerpts from your intersectionality essay; I think that was a major turning point for you both personally and politically in understanding your role in feminism and as a feminist. Brava! Definitely try to share more information and analysis in your upcoming posts. Looking forward to reading them!

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