Two weeks ago, I spent a morning at an elementary school talking with 60+ 3rd grade girls*. I was nervous because we normally work with slightly older students, but I'd gone through our workshop with Henry, my personal 4th grader and expert kid, to vet the content.
Their school had reached out to Hardy Girls because there was a lot of "mean girl" behavior happening. They told me the girls had lost common sense and basic social skills. They told me about some of the behaviors and incidents that had happened and I responded with "They sound angry." The teachers shrugged. "It's out of control," they said. I explained how we would approach this - that we don't try to "fix girls," but instead get underneath their very valid, although maybe misprojected, anger by examining the whacked out (and harmful) boxes/policies/structure in our world. We're going to upend the creation of laws and rules and power. The teachers agreed and we scheduled dates.
So, during that first session, my coworker and I met with three classrooms of girls and talked about gender, where we get our ideas about gender (what is media?), and who creates those images/narratives (older, white guys). We asked what they thought it might look like if girls and women were involved in creating and telling those stories. They were raising their hands and shouting out answers. They were talking to each other and asking us questions. They were engaged. They seemed excited. It also seemed like they hadn't talked about any of this before.
We were supposed to go back two days later and then the following week, four sessions total. An hour later, the counselor called and said the teachers weren't into it. They said the content was over the girls' heads. That it was pitting girls against boys. That it wasn't what they'd wanted and why weren't we talking about how girls should be nice to each other. These were supposed to be friendship workshops.
Since that, I've gone over and over in my head about where the miscommunication was. I felt like I'd been explicit in my description of our work with the teachers. I used the literal words we would use. I talked about the activities we would do. And yet... my prevailing thought was: I wasn't clear. I should have said it better. I could have explained more. Was it over their heads? Did I imagine their eager participation? Did I just want them to be eager?
With more thought, my self-doubt and disappointment turned to anger. I was angry for these girls - being with adults who didn't want to them to be critical thinkers and just wanted them to be nice, quiet, and obedient. Angry that these adults thought I would be complicit in their efforts, despite my clear statements otherwise. And angry at myself for almost letting them! They wanted me to change the curriculum. Their inference that I could come again the next day, as long as I altered the plans and talked more about being polite. I didn't entertain this. Despite really wanting to get back with those girls, I would have had to sacrifice the mission of Hardy Girls OR ruin the relationship with the school completely. Ultimately, after pushing back on the claims, I said, "It sounds like these workshops aren't what the school wanted. Let's explore other ways to partner."
I share this story on a fundraising page because this is the work of Hardy Girls. Challenging a society that ignores the brilliance of girls. As Mona Elthaway wrote in Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls (I'm paraphrasing - and she was paraphrasing Ursula Le Guin), we need to teach girls to erupt. Girls are volcanoes who are groomed to hold in their lava, searing themselves and those closest to them, when, in actuality, they could be exploding and changing the earth. Altering landscapes! Social justice topographers!
At Hardy Girls, we don't just "empower" girls - we remind them of their power.
At Hardy Girls, we don't just listen to girls - we take them seriously.
At Hardy Girls, we don't just "serve" or hang out with girls - we stand with them.
Won't you stand with us?
* self-identifying girls and gender expansive folks
Hardy Girls' biggest fundraiser is the annual Girls* Rock! Awards. This is one awesome night of listening to girls talk about leaping over stereotypes, ignoring the haters and smashing the patriarchy. We honor six girls* who are challenging society and making changes around our state. Hardy Girls Healthy Women takes girls seriously and puts the power in their hands to challenge a society that ignores their brilliance.
*self-identifying girls and gender expansive youth
|02/19/2020||$100.00||Jocelyn Garcia||02/19/2020||$26.06||Ariel Sublett||02/19/2020||$50.00||Gus Luong||01/27/2020||$25.00||<3||Kelli McCannell||01/08/2020||$26.06||Cause a ruckus.|