What IS the All Girl Army?
What IS The All Girl Army?
- A blogger collective of no more than 29 women between the ages of 10 and 25, who identify as feminist chosen via an application process based on their desire to create and nurture women's community, explore feminist issues and their own lives in context via writing and discussion.
- An umbrella collective of women of all ages, working to help support, mentor and strengthen young women and girls and their relationships with each other, to bridge gaps between older feminists and younger feminists, and to provide and enjoy women-centered space.
- A network of resources, projects and support intended to empower young women and girls, however they define their own feminism, and to support them in proactively exploring feminism and women's issues both through their own unique lens and experiences, and via the collective lenses and experiences of other women.
- An advocacy organization which considers feminism and the rights, equality, connectivity and empowerment of all women a vital and inarguable necessity.
What's our goal?
- To increase visibility and self-representation of young women: of their/your lives, ideas, goals, achievements and struggles: to counteract lookism and the media's representation of young women with real voices, unscripted words and real lives.
- To help foster a supportive, creative and proactive women's community, and nurture relationships and discussion among women of all ages; to help young women develop their/your feminism and autonomy via women's community, and discover that other women are allies and sisters, not competition.
- To create and sustain a collective board of feminist women of all ages to manage the site, with a majority vote in decisions given to women under 25; to provide experience for young women in creating, organizing and managing community, advocacy and support for women.
- To provide mentorship for young women to learn skills they're/you're interested in.
- To provide a visible exploration and examination of feminism, of growing up female, by and for young women.
- To show the world the hearts and minds of a whole lot of seriously awesome young women, and to give others, young and old, the chance to be as inspired by all of them/you as we are.
A note from Heather Corinna:
When I first started thinking about the need for a project like this, I realized that the vast majority of sites we see on the internet in which you see a list of women's names as you do at left weren't based on collectives of women. They're usually COLLECTIONS of women.
Far more times than not, when we hit a site with a roster of young women, that list brings us to photographs of young women for viewing/purchase for the sole or primary purpose of male sexual gratification. Now and then, we might also get some journals or blogs with those images (and sometimes, people will even bother to read those words, but more commonly, the words -- which generally are merely flirtations to further the sale -- are merely tolerated because the images are there), but even in those cases, what is representing those women most are the images of those women made expressly to serve the viewer's desires: what they look like -- or, more accurately, what the viewer WANTS them to look like -- not who they are. It is not a stretch to suggest that we have a lot of evidence -- including the words of young women themselves -- that approaches like this are not empowering young women as a class. (For while it certainly is debatable as to whether or not women as a class are or are not benefitted by the option to choose to engage in sex work, it is truly NOT debatable as to the matter of if it benefits women as a class to have groups of women, collectives of women, being most visibly, solely or primarily represented as images for sexual fodder, as solely or primarily sexual, as mere menu items for men.)
I also had experienced a lot of challenges between women, even in feminist communities, when it came to bridging the gaps between older and younger women, second and third wavers, women who identify as feminist and women who were feminist in action, but felt a need to prompt those actions with "I'm not a feminist, but."
In my work at Scarleteen.com, over the years I'd watched a bustling community form that was mostly women, but had also seen too many important discussions between women get derailed -- sometimes with overt sexism and the clear desire to cut women's discussions off at the pass, other times with well-intended, but ultimately nonconstructive or distracting, participation -- by men. I saw young women craving community and ties with other women, and having a harder time finding it than I had: many of them can't find it online OR in their daily lives. Many of them have been reared to always put themselves AND their female friends second, and plenty of them have gotten every overt and covert message out there that women cannot be trusted. Plenty of them have never had the opportunity to even question that message, let alone discover that it was both incorrect and strategically placed. (If anyone tells you the work of feminism is done, and you need one -- of many -- proofs to show that it is not, just have a look at something as simple as this: women unable to connect with women, and kept from doing so, in the most basic ways there are.)
I was hearing a lot of women young and old saying, again and again, "I want feminist community, but I keep having the door shut in my face." Or, "I want a community of women, but our doors keep getting busted through."
We have enough walls put up between us. We need windows! We need rotating doors for as many women as we can stuff into the comfort of our houses. We need men to honor when we need the door closed so that we can empower ourselves, define ourselves, work in our own interest first or just plain ENJOY our own company; to knock if they must, but to respect and understand that we are under no obligation to open it if we do not wish to.
I'd been finally starting to have some success bridging these gaps in my own life, even among radically different women. I'd found myself becoming more and more able, the older I got, the more effort I put into it, to have fantastic friendships and discussions with women twenty years younger than me and twenty years older: with both queer and straight women, with women of different economic classes, with women of varying races, nationalities, and with women whose definitions of feminism varied wildly. When the environment we made supported our connectivity, when we were allowed (and allowed ourselves) to cultivate, keep and nurture that environment, when it was an easy given that even if we didn't agree with one another, even if we weren't exactly like one another -- even if ALL we had in common was just being born and bred female -- we still supported one another, the borders would start to dissolve, the bonds form and become strong.
I'm angry that I had to wait so darn long to be able to get really close to other women, to become earnestly invested in other women; I'm pissed off that every possible barrier was thrown in my way to keep me from that, against my best interest. I'm frustrated that even growing up and living as an adult in some really progressive arenas, I often had a strong message sent that it would be BETTER for me NOT to commit to women, and by extention, myself as a woman. I'm plain hopping mad that over the course of my lifetime, a lifetime which began the year of the Women's Strike for Equality, in which an enormous banner was placed (and allowed to remain, something we'd never see today) over the Statue of Liberty which read, "Women of the World, Unite!" in the apex of second-wave feminism, just a few years before Roe Vs. Wade was passed, I have watched the word which defines the struggle for something as simple and essential as the equality and basic human rights of women become a dirty word, which young women and girls are encouraged NOT to use.
I don't want girls and young women to have to wait until they're in their 30's, 40's or 50's to cultivate real connectivity with other women. I don't want them to have to wait as long as some of us have to know how important it is. I don't want them to have to work as hard as some of us have to carve out a place in our lives for feminism, for other women. I don't want them to be reticent to identify their desire to live a life of equality and value AS feminist.
I want my feminism, as a woman entering her late thirties, to take the experiences and collective feminism of girls and young women into serious consideration: I want them to take ours, and the collective feminism and experiences of the women who came before women my age, into consideration, too.
Namely, I -- and the other women who are working on this project -- want to pass the torch in the best ways we know how. It's a gift we want to give that we feel is of great value, both to young women, and to the world at large.
We feel, we KNOW, that young women and girls are going to positively redefine feminism as we know it, and have the capacity to make an incredible mark on the world. We don't doubt that some of what they want will differ from some of what we want or have wanted: in fact, we expect that some of our desires and aims will be in conflict.
However, we're all of the mind that you can't pass over an agenda with your torch: you can't pass over a torch with the expectation that who you're passing it to is responsible for doing YOUR work for you. You pass on what you can, still doing your own work, with the expectation that they'll use it to do their work, and the conviction that the integrity of your own aims is such that your ultimate goals will align.
The original definition of the word "army" wasn't about violence or domination. Rather, it meant to arm, with tools, for an expedition. And that's exactly what we want to do here: to both help provide young women with the tools they want and need for the expedition of their lives, wherever they want to go, and to help them learn how to use them, however they choose to use them. We hope, and strongly suspect, that they'll put them to use in ways that are not just beneficial for themselves personally, but for all women.
No matter what they choose to do with them, it is in the interest of all women, it is an essential goal of feminism, that we share what tools we have forged with them, help them learn to use them, and then let them go, having a strong faith in them to do the great things so many women before them -- and they themselves - have worked so hard to have the right and the agency to do.