31 May 2013

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: 17 Filles (2011)


Well, this is a controversial and complex one. The outline may seem bizarre and basis of an absurd comedy, once you are presented with an introduction that "when Camille accidentally becomes pregnant, 16 of her friends and classmates decide to follow suit, throwing their town and school into chaos...", nevertheless, 17 Filles (2011, Delphine Coulin & Muriel Coulin) brings the conversation on teen pregnancy beyond what you have seen before.

This is not Juno (2007) with it's ups and downs being still framed in complete security and parental support, the pregnancy being a result of boredom. These French girls - and the movie is based on a somewhat true story that happened in Gloucester, Massachusets in 2008 - use sex/pregnancy as one of the ways to gain agency and control over their lives. The fantasy that rises from one unplanned pregnancy leads to a vision of independence and communal life based on shared maternity away from the parental control and not-promising-at-all future of their town.

While, of course, there's a lot of content to challenge - the instrumentalization of sex ignoring the dimension of pleasure, the absence of parents or their male peers sex partners, the reckless driving, smoking and drinking while pregnant, and the outlandish view that a life with a baby would be somehow easier - it comes back to haunt you exactly on how it questions the narrative of teen pregnancy that we are used to.
You watch the girls while they look for things in their lives: to do, to be, to strive towards... in a confusing, rather lonely world where suddenly something so basic and so contrarian to everything they have been warned about as pregnancy (with no sentimental strings attached to the biological fathers) suddenly seems like a good idea that would get them out of the slump of adolescence and make them adults.

Just to keep in mind that teen pregnancies do not come just from not knowing the biological consequences of sex. It is a much more complex conundrum of things that we should be working with... So, enjoy!

BTW, at the moment there is somebody on YouTube that has uploaded the entire movie, so you may take advantage while it lasts...

28 May 2013

I ♥ Being a Girl in the social media and young people session, #WD2013


Maya just did her presentation of  I ♥ Being a Girl in a session Youth 2.0: Young People Online, talking about where this project came from and what we have been doing since 2010. Together with Gehad from YPEER, Sana from Chanan Development Association and Vanessa from Planned Parenthood Global sharing insights on social media and the nature of the internets.

25 May 2013

Off to #WomenDeliver we go!



This year our conference of the year will be Women Deliver. This blog has gone through two International AIDS Conferences (2010 and 2012), so we expect an experience mixing something new and something old.

Here are the sessions that we will be present at (apart from the fact that Maya has been singled out as one of the 100 Young Leaders, yeah!):
  • May 28th, 11:30 in room 401 session Youth 2.0: Young People Online will take place, talking about digital natives, peer-to-peer social media and activism online with real life campaign examples.
  • May 29th, 14:30 in the Cinema Corner (Exhibit Hall 2, Hospitality Suite 2) we will be giving a brief presentation of I ♥ Being a Girl and screening both of our short films (1, 2).
  • May 29th, 19:30 in room 410 the European Caucus with a focus on the diversities in Europe and Central Asia will take place. We will be there talking about challenges and possible solutions!
And we will be reporting on the inspirational things happening and people met here and on YSAFE Twitter!

24 May 2013

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: V for Vendetta (2005)


Yes, yes, it has been too long since we have suggested a piece of very powerful fiction. V for Vendetta (2005, James McTeigue) comes directly from an eponymous dystopian graphic novel and follows the logic of inspiration-and-empowerment-through-frustration-and suffering.
Hear us, we do not suggest it as a baseline approach to your private life (there's too much suffering already, thank you), but there is no doubt that Evey Hammond is a role model on how to follow what you think is right and how to look for what may bee hidden from the eyes. And how you lose fear by actually doing things.  

Also, in order to continue with your work that may be challenging and solitary at times, it may be a good idea to give some though to legitimate civil disobedience and personal responsibilities we all have towards the place we inhabit, our home, our family, our communities. And the capacities - for somewhat limited that they tend to be - to improve some of that are what you have to be putting in action. Little actions matter. So take this as a manifesto to have a personal revolution first and then ask it from others. And to hold your representatives accountable. Yes, there is no conflict in that, it's complementary.

17 May 2013

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: The Wizard of Oz (1939)


A cinematographic treasure just for you. And we'll tell you about it's feminist value, too.

You see, while the finale of The Wizard of Oz (1939, Victor Fleming) does suggest notes of you-stay-home-and-stop-dreaming, the beginning Dorothy wishing to see more (and trying to do so) and then her actually doing things is a much better lesson to take from the movie.
First of all it's a emancipatory journey of the hero heroine. She does things, believe it or not. And previously she decides to do them.

Also, curiously enough, the author of the book series that the movie is based on, L. Frank Baum, has given much more agency and power to the female characters. It's Dorothy who receives advice from Glinda, the good witch, kills the Wicked Witch of the East and then confronts the Wicked Witch of the West. She does have companions (that she herself emancipates) and the Wizard that she deals with, but female characters are the protagonists.

And nobody has doubts that her life - even if back in old, black-n-white Kansas - will never be the same again. Because experiences matter.

10 May 2013

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Mean Girls (2004)


This, as some other of our suggestions - like Dirty Dancing (1987), for example - may seem unlikely to be labelled as feminist inspiration.

But we insist that Mean Girls (2004, Mark Waters), the girl-on-girl hate classics for those who have grown up in the 2000's, does offer at least some empowering life lessons:

a) You do not need men to perpetuate the patriarchy. The whole thing - as heteronormative and fallocentric as it gets - can be going on with the objects of the rat race being completely oblivious to the fact that friendships, sanity and intelligence is sacrificed for entering in a couple.

b) Playing dumb (or different) is a strategy that doesn't work in long term. And it hurts your most authentic self. Not worth it.

c) The urge to be part of a group, to have social capital is a (social) life or death issue among adolescents (it may get better with the age, not always, though). Trying to be cool is hard enough... and bullying exists, especially the body-, gender- and sexual orientation-related one. And it takes a lot to try to get over that and hope on that it gets better.
This is to be taken into account when trying to intervene and change the behaviour. 

03 May 2013

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Ken Park (2002)


Even more complex and disturbing than Kids (1995), Ken Park (2002) is Larry Clark's and Edward Lachman's return to the world of teenagers, and this time it's Californian skaters already in 2000's. As you can see from the trailer, it may seem quite explicit and scandalous. You get nudity, sex, incest, violence... and all of it seems rather pointless, almost boredom driven.

This is the answer to some of the questions asked in Kids. Ken Park makes it clear that adolescents are not the weird and creepy ones. They've learned it the same way they learned their table manners and kick-flips. By seeing it happen again and again around them. Again, a stark reminder about our collective responsibility towards the young... and a visualization how it may go - and at times is going - terribly wrong in seemingly idyllic setting.