HelloGiggles Asks 5 Writers "Why Do Girls' Voices Matter in the Media?"
As people ask where the young feminists of tomorrow are, activists and writers like Shelby Knox and Lindy West have stated the answer loud and clear: they're on the internet. So, in honor of International Day of the Girl — formally recognized by the United Nations on October 11th, 2012 — MAKERS thought it'd be best to go directly to the source.
HelloGiggles, a positive online community for women, is a hub of emerging women's (and men are invited, too!) voices. Founded by Zooey Deschanel, Molly McAleer and Sophia Rossi, reader contributions are welcome and published daily. We reached out to the amazing folks at HelloGiggles to ask five of their contributors, Andrea Greb, Gina Vaynshteyn, Jessica Tholmer, Tyler Vendetti and Karen Belz one simple question:
Why do girls' voices matter in the media?
“Women are having a moment in the media. From Sheryl Sandberg to Lena Dunham, women are telling their stories and having them heard. But forget about Girls, what about girls? I honestly can't imagine what it's like to be a girl growing up right now. On one hand, it's so exciting to think that girls are growing up in a world where they're hearing about more and more women in leadership positions, running companies and countries, writing books, creating their own movies and TV shows.
On the other hand, it seems like for every story about a female CEO, there's a sensationalized story about another young starlet having a breakdown, not to mention a constant barrage of movies and shows and advertisements glorifying unrealistic ideals of what our bodies and our lives should look like. There are so many stories, good and bad, being told to girls, but those aren't the most important ones. The girls of today are the leaders of the future, but they have stories to tell right now, and the media should be listening. They're important stories, not only for other girls to hear so they know that their peers are going through the same things or to be inspired by what girls their age are doing, but also for everyone to hear so that we can know what issues girls are facing and how best to support them, and also to be amazed by what these girls are capable of.”
“Our voices matter in the media because we are a force to be reckoned with. We have ideas that create ideas that shape the world like Play-Doh. We are strong; our thoughts are enormous, they contain multitudes. We can quote Walt Whitman like a boss. We can perfect the smoky eye while driving (even though that's dangerous). We can do just about anything. Our stories are beautiful, funny, honest, and necessary. We can hate Miley Cyrus but defend her rights as a woman and encourage her to make her own choices. We can also applaud Sinead O' Connor, but question her methodology of slut-shaming. We can talk about slut-shaming. We absolutely must talk about things that make us uncomfortable. We must confront the ugly.
Beyonce said it loud and clear - girls run the world. It's a fact. Our voices need to be represented as well as heard. There are a lot of people out there who scoff at feminism, frown upon female empowerment, and even go so far as to consider taking away our rights. In 2013, women STILL make less than men in the workforce. In 2013, politicians took away some of the rights to our bodies. Do not think that the battle is over just because we live in the 21st century.
By voicing our thoughts, opinions, suggestions, and solutions in the media, we are one step closer to complete gender equality. Because I'm tired of the constant battles. The angry articles by women (and men) exhaust me. But I am so proud and so excited that we are able to do this. So keep doing it. Keep talking. Keep thinking. Keep fighting.”
“The fact that we even ask the question "why do girls' voices matter?" in any aspect of the world is why it is an incredibly important question to ask. In the media, in the classroom, in your home, in the workplace--the fact that we question the voice of a girl is mind boggling to me.
I grew up in the 90s, which I think is a unique perspective that I am happy to realize is receiving more attention these days. I think we were further along in the 90s with female empowerment, to be honest. The music I listened to was very "do what you want," even IF you were a woman. I grew up listening to TLC, Aaliyah, Missy Elliott--women who owned their sexualities and voices.
These things started to go away, though, as I got older. It wasn't lost on me. Television roles for women seemed more scarce. Female musicians began to rely on being sexy--something I am NOT against, but I don't think should be the only way to get recognized. Film roles for women have always been a joke. It's like I had a brief taste of freedom that was taken away from me, but as an adult woman, I have always vowed to be a loud voice. It has certainly gotten me in trouble in my personal life. I have a hard time with men because I intimidate them. I have to work for a woman because men have a hard time with my opinions. I grew up with only boys. If I wasn't loud, I wasn't heard, and every day I thank the stars for that kind of upbringing. I am proud of my loud voice, and I am incredibly lucky that I have been graced with a platform like HelloGiggles to express my opinion. I am allowed to talk about things I like like television and Titanic, but I am also allowed to share my opinion on world events, media figures, and safe sex. And my voice is heard, and my voice is important. I represent SO many different types of people--not just girls, I represent humans. And without sounding too self-important, my voice is unique, and therefore crucial.
Girls' voices matter in the media because girls have opinions and they should be recognized AS validly as boys' opinions, if not more so. It is incredibly important to recognize the variety of opinions in the world, and by not letting girls speak, we are only receiving a small portion of the spectrum.
Not to mention, I personally believe women have a greater range of observations and assessment than men do. Something about paying more attention to life or something, I'm not sure.”
“The world cannot thrive on a single perspective. That is to say, the issues that define our culture cannot fully be explored without the contribution of both male and female voices. As a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional force, the media functions as a platform for critical debate, a place where controversial viewpoints can converge and interact. For ideas to develop from mere pieces of information to larger, influential concepts, they must be given a forum where they can be examined and questioned from every angle. The media does just that. It provides a stage on which freedom of expression and controversy can flourish, where opinions can prompt discussion and promote action. This is the place where women must find their voice. As society grows larger, and the dominant opinions grow louder, the need to present an alternative viewpoint becomes more and more apparent. In other words, the media allows women to challenge the prevailing beliefs at the time and present a new perspective that may otherwise go unnoticed.”
“I feel like girls' voices matter in the media because unfortunately, women today are still often ignored. While things are better than they used to be, we're still fighting for a chance to prove that we can be funny, intelligent, and entertaining regardless of the way we look or dress. For every song lyric or television depiction of a girl whose key identity relies on her sexuality, there's a newscaster or a smart female lead that proves how education and a good sense of humor can be the most powerful tools to really conquer the world. Having enough real females in the media can help balance out the stereotypical typecast of a woman. Not only is this a sign of growth, but it's a sign that we're extremely dimensional and capable of leading the entertainment industry when given the opportunity, whether it be in writing, acting, directing, producing, or broadcasting.”