People often see the mantra “Girl Power” and imagine them on a t-shirt, hat, or in an inspiring poster; but what exactly is girl power, and how does it fit within the feminism movement?
Some women and writers have claimed that girl power is demeaning to the struggle women have gone through to promote the idea of feminism, or the advocating of women’s rights. However, the idea seems more of a friendly and generalized concept that focuses more on young women and girls who may not understand feminism.
“Girl power is coming together and working towards a common goal, or girls hyping up girls,” freshman Ellinor Allen stated. When asked about the difference between girl power and feminism, most women responded that it was more of a way to encourage women or promote strong, independent women, rather than actually fighting for a cause.
Freshman Jessie Huntley-Stern voiced her opinion on the matter, “Girl power is a thing you teach young kids, telling them just because you’re a girl it doesn’t mean you have to be subservient.” She focused on the idea that girl power is more to “get pumped up rather than actually get something done.”
On the other hand, feminism represents something more concrete and talked about in today’s society. “I associate it with activism and adults trying to make a change in society,” Huntley-Stern commented. “Feminism is fighting for equality,” Allen stated.
While girl power may encompass an idea of feminism, the movement is not only about girl power. Feminism may not be able to be summed up as easily, but using girl power as a stepping off point for young women should be helpful and not harmful, as some people believe. “As feminism started as a way to address female grievances, and has evolved to so much more, girl power is about joining together, in strong, supportive harmony towards a common, fantastic goal,” states Cassandra Gagnon in an article titled “Feminism vs. Girl Power: ‘The Big Difference.’” Girl power is seen as a seed that sprouts into the ideas of feminism, empowering young women without having to explain the complexity of the actual movement.
However, Rachel Fudge claims that girl power is harmful to the feminist movement, “Girl power reduces the theoretical complexity of feminism to a cheery slogan.”
Although this may be true, girl power doesn’t need to represent the full idea of feminism, and oftentimes you can’t talk to young children about all the ugly stuff that happens in the world. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with simplifying the ideas of feminism to promote equality at a young age. The pessimistic view Fudge has on girl power is exactly what prevents young women from learning how to stick up for themselves, without having to talk about serious things like the wage gap, sexual assault, etc.
There has to be some sort of starting place for feminism, and what better way to do that than to have an encouraging mantra that lifts spirits and unites young women? I know if I would have known about girl power I probably would have been more involved in feminism early on, and I’m sure it would be the same for many others. There’s no reason to put down something innocent and working towards uplifting young women, because that’s fighting against the idea of feminism. Girl power isn’t something bad and it shouldn’t be seen as something cliché; it’s a good starting place and place of encouragement for anyone, even if you’re not a kid.