Monday, June 25, 2007

Girls in the News

Now this is what I am talking about! Last week girls were featured in the New York Times and the Village Voice for good stuff, not rises in girl violence, or girls gone wild. Instead these two articles are positively focused on girl power-- friendships that get girls through high school, and girls taking action on street harassment. Congrats to both the girls on their achievements AND to the New York Times and the Village Voice for running the stories. Check them out!

The June 24th New York Times article "The High School Kinship of Crystal and Queen" focuses on the friendship that develops between two teen girls that beat the odds and graduate ON TIME in a New York City High School (like 50% of their peers).

The Dominican boys in the back of the freshman English class at the high school in Washington Heights were making fun of the timid African-American girl, Queen Bond. One of the boys got down on one knee in front of her as if he were Romeo — they had been studying “Romeo and Juliet” — and delivered the final crushing insult.
“He was saying something about that I smelled,” recalled Queen, now 17. “I just put my head down. I started crying.”

Then something remarkable happened, she said: “Cristal stood up.” Cool, streetwise, 4-foot-11-inch Cristal Pimentel.

“This short, like, two-foot-tall person is standing up to these guys who are up to the ceiling,” Queen said. “She’s screaming, getting angry, waving her arms. She stood up, she defended me. No one ever stood up for me in that way.

“I’m, like, ‘Wow, this girl is the most beautiful person.’ ”

Read more about Crystal and Queen HERE

On June 19th the Villiage Voice printed 'Ayo, shorty!' Brooklyn girls are fighting back against the boys who harass them, detailing the work of teen girls at Girls for Gender Equity.

Even a poster declaring "Street Harassment is a Crime!" in bold letters didn't deter a group of guys standing on a Brooklyn corner from ogling 17-year-old LaTosha Belton. She was wearing knee-length shorts, a tank top, a short-sleeved sweater and she was carrying a stack of anti–sexual harassment posters.
"Read this!" she challenged, responding to their hisses and come-ons.

"What? I can't tell you, you look nice?" one man asked puzzled.

"What does this say?" she asked while pointing to the poster. "You are harassing me and I don't like it."

Read more about the teen girls stopping street harassment here

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Politics doesn't have to be Boring! An interview with Lauren Long

(This interview is the first in a new WGFG interview series which spotlights girls taking action on their own ideas and running their own projects. Thanks to Lauren for being the first!)

Bothered by a story on the radio about the number of kids who can't identify the 50 states on a map, much less find Iraq on a world map, Lauren (then in the fifth grade)supported by her mom, Sharon, decided to do something about it.

Their multi-media project A Kids Guide 2 Politics is a website and book project aimed at taking the boring out of politics for kids. Lauren, now finishing 8th grade and excited about high school, took the lead on the website, creating the games, graphics and text, while Mom has taken the lead on the book. Working together as partners, they realized that young people perceive politics as boring, and as removed from their lives.

I asked Lauren what she thinks about teens' interest in the latest pursuits of Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton over politics or daily events. Lauren answered,
"Even though kids can't vote, everyone has the potential to be interested in politics. Hollywood and music is really exciting for teenagers, but politics affects our lives. Politics isn't as boring as it seems. Teenagers need to realize that Hollywood is not as important the politics and get involved now"

Lauren first became interested in politics after 9/11 when her curiosity took over. She wanted to know "why things were happening" and started listening to the news on the radio, and watching John Stewart's The Daily Show (the repeats on at 8pm the next day, Lauren mentioned-- 11pm being too late to stay up on a school night, of course!) Lauren has always liked writing and reading, and before working on this project made her own books and stories. Combined with a love of video games (including The Sims), building her own website with interactive games seemed like a natural next step.

Lauren created all the games and features on the website herself, after she stumbled on an application that no one was using on her home computer. After some experimenting, she's created mazes, quizzes, and "what if" scenarios. The book, like the website, will also include quizzes and games-- and won't just be text, sticking with the idea that kids need to be actively engaged. Lauren also told me, "It's fun to do it together with my mom and know that it is going to make a difference for people."

While the book and website project have taken a lot of time and effort over the last three years, Lauren also knows that is the little everyday acts that can make a difference. Frustrated and saddened by the genocide in Darfur, she got together a few of her friends to take up a collection at her school to donate. "Kids don'thave as much power as adults to make a difference, but we have to do what we can."

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Global Girls Day June 23

The goal of Global Girls Day, an event of Girls International Forum, is to encourage girls to improve their lives by taking leadership roles in their home communities and around the world. Participants will develop specific tactics to tackle the issues that concern them the most. They will form support networks with other girls working on a similar issue in their communities.

Girls ages 12 - 18 will have the chance to focus on a specific global issue facing girls and women. In the morning session, they will learn more about an issue that they choose. In the afternoon, each girl will be on a team that creates an Action Project that proposes a solution to this problem.

Anyone up for a road trip to St. Paul, Minnesota?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rock for Young Women on June 29th

Rock for Young Women will feature musical performances by Bouva, Boyskout, Tamara Fishman, Frank Hoier, and Receptor. Molly Kelleher and Maryann Schaub of Broad Comedy will present "It's Great To Wait," written by Katie Goodman. The evening will also include several spoken word performances.

The doors will open at 7 p.m. at the Knitting Factory (74 Leonard Street). Advance tickets are $15 and may be purchased at Tickets at the door will be $20 with half of the proceeds going to GEMS and the other half to NY-YWTF

Buy these books! Sisterhood Interrupted and Full Frontal Feminism

Given that I have identified with feminism, since, oh I don't know, the womb (Thanks Mom!) all of my work with girls ultimately has its underpinnings in feminism. I know for other people their work is grounded elsewhere, but for me, the sense that girls are strong capable people who deserve to wake up in the morning and think "I am going to be President one day" is a feminist one.

These two books give two different kinds of takes on feminism and where it is today. Jessica's is clearly a call to arms to young women to give up that "I'm a feminist, but" stuff and start calling themselves what they are-- feminists.

Deb takes a longer view, looking at the generational and ideological differences between feminists and how to move forward.

Both can inform and should inform work with girls. I've devoured Jessica's book and can't wait to pick up Deb's, which hit bookshelves on Tuesday.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Young Women of Color Leadership Council Deadline Friday

Young Women of Color Leadership Council

Calling: young women of color between the ages of 14-24 and are African American/Black,Asian/Pacific Islander, Latina, and/or Native American.

The deadline is Friday, June 15th.

The Young Women of Color Leadership Council is composed of young
leaders and activists who come together to promote a message of
prevention and empowerment. All of the Council's work is a
collaboration of diversity and passion, in the hopes of affecting a
million more young women of color.

Due to the alarming rates of HIV and AIDS among young women of color,
the Young Women of Color Leadership Council (YWOCLC) was started to
promote HIV prevention among this at-risk population and build youth

YWOCLC currently consists of eighteen women from all across the
country who have come together to prevent the spread of HIV in our
communities, especially among other young women of color. We are
advocating for the inclusion of young women of color in HIV prevention
programs so they will become involved in fighting HIV in their
respective communities.


The Young Women of Color Leadership Council is composed of young women
of color, leaders and activists, who have come together to promote a
message of prevention and empowerment. All of our work is a
collaboration of diversity and passion, coming together in the hopes
of affecting a million more.


The goals of the Council are:
Educate: We raise awareness among young people, especially young women
of color, about the need for HIV prevention efforts for themselves and
other young people.
Include: We advocate for the inclusion of young women of color in the
planning, implementation, and evaluation of HIV prevention programs.
Empower: We need all young people, especially our sisters of color, to
get involved in fighting HIV and AIDS in our communities

What Do We Do?
Attend and present workshops at national/regional conferences.
Conduct presentations for community-based organizations, high schools,
colleges and other venues about the impact of HIV and AIDS on young
women of color.
Partner with youth-serving, community-based organizations to better
reach, serve, and include young women of color in HIV prevention
Establish local Young Women of Color Leadership Councils to mobilize
young women of color to get actively involved in local HIV prevention
efforts and to build local leadership among young women.
Join HIV Prevention Community Planning Groups to ensure they address
issues important to stopping HIV among youth and young women of color.
Address community leaders, decision makers, and legislators.
Provide interviews about the Council members work to magazines,
newspapers, and television stations.

For more info:
Trina Scott
Program Manager, Young Women of Color Initiatives
Advocates for Youth
2000 M Street, NE
Washington, DC 20037
202-419-3420, ext. 17
202-419-1448 fax

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Meet the Third Wave!

Third Wave Foundation, that is!

10 years later, the Third Wave Foundation is still the only feminist activist foundation that works nationally to support young women and transgender youth ages 15 - 30. Focusing on young people and challenging gender norms, the Third Wave Foundation moves beyond "the children are the future" and ensures that young people have a voice now and can take action on their beliefs and ideals today.

It's not too late to RSVP and come out and meet the staff and see their new space. I promise they won't card you at the door if you are 31 and up!

Read about the beginning of the Third Wave Foundation here

Monday, June 11, 2007

Brooklyn Girls Take a Stand Against Unwanted Sexual Attention

HEY! This is the second girls-led event on unwanted sexual attention/street harassment in the last few months-- looks like we have a real problem on our hands. Take a few minutes today and talk to girls you know--are they facing the same issue? What can we do about it?-- Patti

Teen girls in the Brooklyn Girls Collaborative are screening their new film "USA in the USA" about unwanted sexual attention.

Meet the film makers, Kamaria, Latoya, Tyra, Erica and Bianca and check out the film:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007
7:00 – 8:30
BRIC Studio 57 Rockwell Place
Btwn. Dekalb Ave. & Fulton St.
2nd floor

call 212-531-7620 to RSVP

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Final Call: Jessica Valenti and Girls Write Now

Come join me Sunday at 4pm at the Barnes and Noble at Astor Place for one of my fave events of the entire year (cheesy, yes, but oh-so-true) the Girls Write Now Annual Spring Reading and Fundraiser.

Come hear the original work of NYC teen girls (they are awesome!), with special guest Jessica Valenti, author of Full Frontal Feminism, who was also on the Colbert Report this week (so cool!).

While you are there, do you book shopping with a GWN voucher, and GWN will receive between 10 - 25% of the proceeds (Great way to pick up Jessica's book! or Courtney Martin's new book, or hey-- any book- it's for a good cause!)

Not to be missed, anthologies of the girls' work and Girls Write Now t-shirts. Fun, Fashion, Feminism....all in one great day.

See you there!