Where Have the Go-Go's Gone-Gone?

Daisy and I have been watching this Go-Go’s vid over and over (and over) lately. I’m struck by how much the women in the band, unlike most of today’s female artists, look like real people--even Belinda, whom I recalled  as a sort of having an unattainable ideal of beauty vibe (maybe that came later,  in the "Cool Jerk" era). And Jane, well, dang, how cool is Jane? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3kQlzOi27M

This vid is all about having silly fun and making music with your pals, not what other people think about how you look. Yeah, they stop at a lingerie store for no apparent reason. But they come out empty handed as far as I can tell. Because unlike today’s lady stars, if they did buy leather thongs, they are wearing them under their clothes. And who knows? maybe (as my girl Caitlin Moran might say) they just needed to stock up on some stridently feminist big pants.

Rock-&-roll is sexy, no problem with that. Love that. But somewhere along the line, for women in the bizness (as for girls across the board) looking desirable replaced  expressing or understanding your desire as the definition of "sexiness." I mean, where are today’s playful vids of girls just wanting to have fun, making music for the joy of it, letting the audience in on what it means to simply feel free? I suspect if this vid were made today it would show a band of perfectly sculpted bodies in bustiers and 5-inch spikes “owning” their sexuality by bumping and grinding in a giant bird cage. Constraint as freedom, that's just messing with girls' minds. Minimally, Belinda would have come out of that lingerie store carrying a stack of shopping bags. 

So, yeah, there’s Adele. Of course, Adele. Maybe the Dixie Chicks? But who are today’s Go-Go’s? Whither today’s Belindas and Janes?

(Me, I blame the Spice Girls.)

 

Pearls From Ruby

The best thing we can do for our daughters is to teach them, as they get older, to make their own courageous way through the woods of the girlie-girl culture. So what a thrill to read this  blog post by my friend Marcelle's 11-year-old daughter, Ruby. Ruby wrote it after she and her mom, who live in New York City,  went shopping for her Halloween costume. Needless to say, they didn't find one, though Ruby sure found her voice. It's one thing for us adults to talk to girls about the creepy (not in a good way) costumes, but how much more powerful to hear it from a peer!

So Ruby and Marcelle, you are my sheroes and here, with her permission, is Ruby's post:

TRICKS AND TREATS: RETURN TO INNOCENCE

by Ruby Karp

So, you know what time it is! That’s right, Halloween! When you dress up as a scary ghost or zombie, right? Not for girls my age (I’m 11, in sixth grade). For us, it is dress-up-in-an-inappropriate-way time. And I know I am in that inbetween age, where I’m still a kid and almost something else, but seriously. I love Halloween, I love trick-or-treating with my friends, I love the way the neighborhood turns into a magical place with cobwebs and spiders and everything spooky-safe. And ever since I was 7, it’s been hard for me to find a costume that isn’t above the knee or low-cut or has a choker involved.

Like this year, I wanted to be Elmo and my friend was going to be Cookie Monster but where were the fuzzy costumes? NOWHERE. Instead of fun costumes that I would have a hard time choosing between, I found super-short dresses that aren’t cute, they’re inappropriate for me. How does Snow White turn into a girl in a sports bra that’s blue and a yellow mini skirt and super high heels that are bright red? Tell me, how is that Snow White? I looked at a Little Red Riding Hood costume and it went up really high. I mean, the list goes on and on.

And you know, instead of just telling my mom, “So this year, I want to be a Ghoulish Girl,” and going to the costume store and picking it out in five minutes, we have to search for something and my mom has to inspect it! Can you imagine trying to decide what costume is sexy and which is not with your mom? Do you know how embarrassing that is? Well, believe it. I have to do that every Halloween. Now, it isn’t easy when my best friend and me had been planning to be something together and your mom tells you cant because it is too-something-gross. So this year, I’m borrowing my friend’s old pumpkin costume that her Mom sewed for her (yep, she’s got a Super-Mom) and it is perfect for me, a girl of 11 years old.

It is sad how for Halloween, girls have less and less options on what to wear, that they have to choose between ick and ickier. I used to love Halloween because you could dress up in public  like a fairy and not look weird! Now, when I look for a fairy costume, I look a little too weird. Why do costume-makers want girls looking like this? What is going to happen to the next generation? Maybe the GOOD costumes won’t even be here anymore, the only choice a 10-year-old girl will have is to be something with the word “vixen” or “sexy” in the costume title. Sigh. I can only hope for the best.

I have to search real hard for a good non-weird costume. And it shouldn’t be this hard. Really, the only thing we can do is hope that the costumes go back to the way they were when I was little, when you could be a Princess or a Baseball Player and not look like you were out to be anything else but that. And more appropriate. NOTE TO PEOPLE WHO MAKE THESE COUSTUMES: we are not 25. We are 11. Start making costumes like it. AND FAST.

What a gem. Thanks, Ruby!

My Shero--La Rachel Simmons

I love Rachel Simmons. Even though she called me the grandmother of the girls' movement when I was YOUNGER THAN SHE IS NOW (ahem!). Yes she did. And yet, we have grown to be dear friends. I'm forgiving that way.  

Anyway, in addition to her writing, speaking, coaching and work with Simone Marean and Ronald at the marvelous Girls Leadership Institute she has just released  a revised and updated edition of her germinal (not seminal, get it?) book, "Odd Girl Out." As she writes in the new introduction, 'I wrote [this] as an observer, but I have revised it as a practitioner.

 

According to Slate XX , Rachel returns to the material "with more perspective":

Simmons’s transition has changed her book fundamentally, and for the better. In its original form, Odd Girl Out brought a largely unexamined social problem into the public eye with sensitivity and insight, but offered little by way of solutions or advice. Now it is both a sociological text and a how-to. Simmons has added three new chapters focused on the roles of parents and teachers, which detail the tricks and tips she’s picked up over the years. She gets incredibly specific, down to which sentences do and don’t work with teens, and how best to approach another parent or teacher about bullying.

The new Odd Girl Out also addresses the changes brought about by technology. Facebook and sexting didn’t exist in 2002, but now they dominate the way girls conceptualize and conduct their friendships. Simmons tackles social media’s effect on teen girls in two new chapters that cover cyberbullying, privacy, and what parents can do to help their daughters negotiate the slippery world of online interaction. What she describes is frankly horrifying, an inescapable maelstrom of hormones, insecurity, and cruelty enabled by the Internet’s tendency to erase inhibitions and accountability. Refreshingly, though, Simmons refuses to see girls as victims of new technology. “Social media may magnify emotions and facilitate cruelty, but it does not ‘make’ girls act a particular way,” she writes. The solution, she suggests, isn’t to log off but to develop strategies for communicating healthily, just like in real-time interactions.

Simmons has made plenty of tweaks and improvements to her original work, but here’s what remains unchanged: Odd Girl Out is gripping because it’s relatable, even to those of us who are mercifully removed from the social politics of middle and high school. By documenting girls’ social lives with depth and nuance (no girl is just a bully or just a victim, Simmons reminds us) the book encourages us to consider what transpired at our own lunch tables, and how that shaped the kind of women we became. Everyone knows what it feels like to be the odd girl out, and Simmons has turned her book into a meeting place for all experiences: Girls find a voice and an ally, parents and teachers gain perspective and tools to help the girls in their lives, and the rest of us observe from the sidelines, feeling wiser and a bit better understood.

Also, catch this interview with La Rachel herself on NPR. She is so smart, so relatable and so wise about the world--hey, kind of like my grandma!

 

Rachel Simmons: Shayne Punim!

Forget Harry Potter--The New Miyazaki Looks Like Magic!

Oh my goodness! More good news! The next Studio Ghibli movie, Arietty, will open in the U.S. in February. Ghibli the Japanese company founded by the visionary auteur Hiyao Miyazaki is responsible for the fight-fun-with-fun screen gems My Neighbor Totoro,

Kiki's Delivery Service,

Spirited Away,

Ponyo,

Castle in the Sky,

Nausicaa,

Princess Mononoke (not for little ones),

all of which feature spectacular, wonderful, natural female protagonists. I could not have gotten through my daughter's childhood without him. Plus, Miyazaki totally blows out of the water the old chestnut that female protagonists can't be universal or hold boys' attention. His  creativity puts Pixar to shame. In fact, John Lassiter idolizes Miyazaki.

According to an article in the UK Guardian:

Ghibli is often lazily dubbed Japan's answer to Disney, but the comparison only holds true in terms of box-office sales (Spirited Away is still Japan's all-time top-grossing film – three other Ghibli films are in the top 10) and sales of cuddly toys. In terms of content, Studio Ghibli is a world apart. Since 1984, under the auspices of its founder and chief auteur, Hayao Miyazaki, the studio has rolled out a succession of dense, ambitious fantasy adventures, almost all of them led by strong, intelligent, independent-minded girls. Miyazaki's movies are exciting and fantastical, often involving flying machines, ecological disasters, clashing civilisations and precarious spiritual values – all rendered in clean, colourful, hand-drawn animation. His heroines also tend towards a certain type. They are adventurous and active, but also compassionate, communicative, pacifist and virtuous. Their "female" qualities and childish innocence are often what resolve the crisis at hand and bridge conflicting worlds. Miyazaki does princesses, too, but the first time we see his eponymous Princess Mononoke, she's sucking the gunshot wound of a giant wolf and spitting blood into a river.

As Miyazaki once explained: "If it's a story like, 'Everything will be fine once we defeat him,' it's better to have a male as a lead. But, if we try to make an adventure story with a male lead, we have no choice other than doing Indiana Jones. With a Nazi, or someone else who is a villain in anyone's eyes."

"He thought heroism was much more complicated than that black hat/white hat stuff," explains Helen McCarthy, a British author who has written extensively on Miyazaki and Japanese animation. "By making the hero a girl, he took all that macho stuff out of the equation and that gave him the freedom to examine heroism. His career has been a very beautiful building of an idea that the feminine doesn't preclude the heroic."

The new film has all the earmarks of a Ghibli classic:

Arrietty fits right into this mould. It was adapted by Miyazaki from Mary Norton's Borrowers stories and directed by his protege, Hiromasa Yonebayashi. Arrietty herself is a miniature 14-year‑old girl, who lives with her parents in secrecy under the floorboards of a rural Japanese home, "borrowing" their possessions – a pin becomes her sword, for example. Like any little girl growing up, she's independent-minded and eager to explore the outside world. Just as Spirited Away's heroine bridged the world between the spirits and the living, so Arrietty bridges that between her little people and the full-sized humans, but she is also driven by her curiosity about boys.

Yeah, the boys thing, I don't know. But in Miyazaki's hands I imagine we'll see something beautiful...and real. Here's the trailer (somewhat lame, but the animation and story look great).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeoKCQUDE-k

And--GIRL CRUSH ALERT--it stars Amy Poehler!!!

 

Forget Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (well, okay, don't FORGET it, but....). I'll be first in line for this one.