Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thursdays In Black: Embrace Your Inner Girl

Here's my latest blog post for Thursdays In Black:

I was doing a bit of casual Internet surfing the other day when I came across this blog post by Jaqueline Campbell about feminism and femininity. Her post 'My Right to be a Feminist' features on the MTV Staying Alive campaign website as part of their 'Right to be Me' season.

Jaqueline's post is inspiring as she strives to dispel the myths around feminism and expresses that to be a feminist is not a declaration of hatred for all things male nor is it a rejection of female sexuality. She defines her concept of feminism in her powerful parting statement:

'Feminism is my right to say that painting my nails red and studying physics are not mutually exclusive.'

Her post reminded me of an amazing speech given by Eve Ensler, writer of the Vagina Monologues and founder of V Day. Her speech for TED Talks discusses the presence of the 'girl cell' in all of us that we have been taught to suppress.

'I want you to imagine that this girl cell is compassion, and it's empathy, and it's passion itself, and it's vulnerability, and it's openness and it's intensity and it's association, and it's relationship, and it is intuitive.

And then let's think how compassion informs wisdom, and that vulnerability is our greatest strength, and that emotions have inherent logic, which lead to radical, appropriate, saving action. And then let's remember that we've been taught the exact opposite by the powers that be, that compassion clouds your thinking, that it gets in the way, that vulnerability is weakness, that emotions are not to be trusted, and you're not supposed to take things personally, which is one of my favorites.

I think the whole world has essentially been brought up not to be a girl.'

She goes on to share terrible stories of genital mutilation, rape and abuse endured by women the world over. She exposes how much the world degrades, marginalises, tortures and humiliates girls and how little value is placed in them.

'I've seen that we cut girls and we control them and we keep them illiterate, or we make them feel bad about being too smart. We silence them. We make them feel guilty for being smart. We get them to behave, to tone it down, not to be too intense. We sell them, we kill them as embryos. We enslave them. We rape them. We are so accustomed to robbing girls of the subject of being the subjects of their lives that we have now actually objectified them and turned them into commodities.'

Powerful words indeed. Eve also argues that men have a right to embrace their 'girl cell' and suggests that this culture of teaching our boys to suppress emotions of compassion, vulnerability and empathy is the root cause of some of society's biggest problems.

Eve's passionate speech calls us to recognise that to be a girl is not to be weak. Being a girl is to be a powerful, resilient and resourceful being. To be a girl is to be 'an emotional creature' and Eve's piece at the end of her speech is a call to empowerment for everyone with an inner 'girl cell'.

Jaqueline is exercising her right to be a girl and so should we all.

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