Why Grrrl Power Still Matters

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 I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite; so don’t let me have any rights.

Since it’s release, “Just A Girl” has inspired teenage girls to embrace their femininity. It was a powerful statement as she fronted an otherwise all male band. Her childish whimpers polymerized with loud wails highlighted that women are just as powerful as men. Her image was evidently moulded by female icons before her: Cyndi Lauper, Madonna and Courtney Love. The world has been filled with powerful goddesses from the suffragettes to the early days of Riot Grrrl with the likes of Poly Styrene and Kathleen Hanna making strong feminist comments through their music and beyond.

And although in the past we’ve had these glorious women stand up against misogyny and deconstruct patriarchal discourse, who do we have to show future generations that girl power still matters? All I see is sexualized girl groups who sing about longing for boys to love them. This commonly sang about theme seems to have slithered it’s way into girls brains and infected them.

Not to sound misandristic, but males do have a huge part to play in this problem. Recently online, I saw several comments made by males on what females should wear. The males claimed that unless women were prepared to wear skimpy, revealing clothing, they had no chance at getting a boy to like them. It was genuinely enraging. If a girl put up a status saying: “Unless you have a big penis, no girl is going to want to have sex with you.”, she would be immediately branded as a slut.

But girls constantly post pictures of themselves online wearing barely nothing as the prepare for a night out, in the hopes of attracting male attention. It isn’t even an embrace of the female shape. It’s because of the general patriarchal view that females should be scantily clad before any romantic activity begins. And the majority of girls from my generation in Ireland abide by this silent code. It’s utterly depressing. Girls give in to this male idea of perfection: slim frame, large breasts, clear, sallow skin. They literally go through hell to be perceived as perfection.

I look at girls around me and see how submissive they are towards males. How one boy could literally dominate their whole mind and their actions. A lot of relationships I see show no equality whatsoever: just a girl being reduced to an object of male sexual fulfillment. There is an extreme lack of a strong female presence in Irish society nowadays. Georgia Salpa isn’t going to teach you how to be better, no matter how much you wish that a man would stare at you as he does to magazine photos of her.

I know I have focused on body image more than any other issue but it is one that is most important to me. I have been attacked in the past by males about my appearance. I was called fat and ugly. I was also slut-shamed by several different males. And it doesn’t make you feel attractive. It doesn’t make you feel like a woman. It makes you feel like dirt. It makes you feel worthless. 95% of the time, I’ve received no apology. It made me feel as inferior as the males thought I was.

But I’m not “just a girl” and either are the women who have been subjected to the same treatment as I have in the past. Women are human beings and deserve to be treated accordingly. There is a severe lack of respect towards women in Irish society, a place where women do not even have control over their own bodies. Abortion is illegal. Rape and sexual abuse is extremely high in Ireland. In 2011, 2,036 women came to the Rape Crisis Network for help. Many more voices were not heard. The normalization of rape culture is becoming more and more frequent and I have noticed this especially online.

I urge the girls who read this to think twice about who they are. Embrace the person that you are. Don’t let a man determine what you wear, think or act. Love your body and don’t let anyone destroy it. Don’t let anyone make you feel like an object. Take a leaf out of this tortoise’s book.

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