Thursday, September 27, 2012

girl power!

Whenever I hear the phrase "Girl Power" I am reminded of something that was a big part of who I was as a teen: the Spice Girls. That was their battle cry, their motto, and they wanted to let us girls know that we had power, that we were important. "Girl Power" might have been used as a catchphrase from which then merchandise was created, but it was meaningful for us. At a time when only boy bands were becoming famous, all girls had as role models were cute (okay, hot)guys who were singing about love (and we fantasized about each song being about ourselves). However, the Spice girls provided songs that were about us, girls, about our dilemmas, our strength, about being happy. They sang about friends, mothers, boys,and dancing, among other things. We not only admired them, we wanted to be them because we identified with one (if not all) of them. They were singing for girls.  
Image taken from: this blog

In Coalescing: The Development of Girls’ Studies, Mary Celeste Kearney discusses that in early feminism,in an attempt to demonstrate that women were equal to men, issues about girls were neglected, making it an adult-centered feminism.Thus, feminism became about women, not all females, but there was a need to study girls; they needed to be included. 

The fact that the Spice Girls were grown women but their name included the word "girls" instead of "ladies" perhaps, is a sign that they were including all forms of females, not just adults. Their catchphrase was "girl power" and not "woman power" or "female power". Of course, not surprisingly, their majority of their fanbase was comprised of little girls and teenagers (such as myself).

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

childhood memories

During the summer 2011 institute of the MayaWest Writing Project, we were asked to write different personal pieces, which could talk about our past or our present. They could be painful, happy, funny, serious; in other words, we were free to write about what we wanted given the specifications or writing prompts. Looking back on the overall experience of the MWWP I realized I had indadvertedly accessed memories from my childhood in many of these writing instances. I talked about things I did when I was little, toys I played with, games my siblings and I would create, clothes I wore, and songs I used to sing, among other things. I would usually associate many of the topics discussed in our daily workshops to my childhood. It was then I realized more clearly that what had formed and shaped my current interests was in fact my childhood or perhaps my memories of it. 

Mitchell and Reid-Walsh discuss  the nostalgia adults feel when talking about their childhood or when presented with something that reminds them of their childhood, which is in part why the Toy Story movie franchise has been and continues to be wildly successful. As they explain, it has been noted that these movies are not necessarily about our childhood toys but rather about the nostalgia that they bring (Flick Filosopher of the Internet; Giroux). The success of these movies relies greatly on the parents who are bringing their children to watch them. Children today will undoubtedly enjoy these movies because they feature toys that are alive, therefore, they are fun. However, the way an adult will enjoy these movies is very different. They will watch them with a nostalgia (I don't think I know a single person who did not cry during Toy Story 3), and the movies will bring up emotions about the past.  They will think about those toys -- I remember being very excited about the toy phone because we had one at home -- and they will remember that time in their lives when they were creative, when the biggest problem was perhaps that a toy was broken. They will miss those toys. Adults will be children again, even if it is for just ninety minutes because we want to be kids again. We want to be able to play and not be judged about it. This I believe, is why the Disney parks are so successful; they are places where adults can be children again, at least for a day. It is no surprise then, that there have been three Toy Story movies, and a fourth one is rumored to be in the making. 

This feeling is, I think, what overpowered me during that summer. The fact that I could sit down and talk about things that I love and that I remembered, most of them being moments of my childhood, gave me a sense of joy that I wanted to share with everyone else. I wrote about a talent show my siblings and I used to put up at home, about my favorite dress as a child, about my stuffed animals. The poster I created about myself looked like one that could've been made by a little girl: 

During an activity in which we were assigned to take a series of pictures of something about ourselves or our surroundings, I chose to take pictures of some of my dolls, stuffed animals, games, and childhood books. Curiously I was asked by someone jokingly (I hope): "How old are you?!" I took it to be a funny commentary on what I chose to photograph, since other people took pictures of their communities or their family. My interpretation to this person's comment was that their concept of childhood follows the idea that age is a (or the) determining factor. I feel like I am a child at heart, which became even more evident to me when I wrote a personal piece about the importance of the Alice stories in my life. But, am I a child at heart? Could I still be considered a girl or do I have to be a women and act accordingly? Driscoll talks about this  in her "Introduction: Toward a Genealogy of Girlhood," stating: 
     In my mid-thirties I am not a girl any longer, in most senses of the word.      And yet I might still be called a girl and use the word "girl" about myself, especially among women around my own age. Moreover, I remain socially connected to, interested in, and sometimes still strongly identify with "girl" things and "girl" behaviors, and experience girlhood.(2) 

Although she admits to not being a girl anymore (using age as the determining factor), she also provides instances in which she considers herself a girl and is engaged with girlhood and what it may entail. Similarly, I can separate the time and place where I am (or have to be or need to be)and adult, and when I am what I consider a "girl". Usually this occurs when something triggers my emotions and feeling of nostalgia: whenever I am with my siblings, Christmas day, looking at toys I used to play with, watching cartoons that I strictly remember from my childhood, paper dolls, songs, and my one or two favorite dresses, among other things. I think this is why I still get excited and emotional when I see things that remind me of those years. I still search for cartoons and other videos on YouTube and share them with my siblings. We look forward to Christmas because it is the time we get together and are "allowed" to be children again, watch all those videos and cartoons, play with toys, and just reminisce about those moments of joy. 

Readings Referenced:

C. Driscoll, Girls, Intro. Towards a Genealogy of Girlhood in Girls: Feminine adolescence in popular culture and cultural theory (2002)

Mitchell and J. Reid-Walsh “Memory Spaces: Exploring the afterlife of children’s popular culture” Ch. 2 in Mitchell and Reid-Walsh Researching Children’s Popular Culture (2002).