5 Ways to Keep Our Daughters in the March

The morning of the Seattle Women’s March I fixed my daughters and their friends an enormous breakfast. I never do this. Most Saturdays it’s fend-for-yourself around here.  The group poked fun at my efforts to fortify their bodies, as if, they joked, “we were going into battle”.

Now that the march is a week or so behind us -- and executive order after executive order stack up -- it has never been clearer that we are.

So what does this mean? 

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5 Tips for Making the Most of the Women’s March with Your Teen or Tween Daughter

It’s the eve of perhaps the biggest women’s march in American history. There is an air of defiance, of jubilation, of anger, and well, of girl power. More than 1,000,000 people have registered to march across cities to protest policies that will disproportionately impact the rights of women and girls.  In Seattle alone, where I live and am marching with my daughters and others, more than 50,000 of us signed on.  It promises to be an intergenerational and intersectional women’s march, and there is much we can learn from the umbrella of issues under which we all have a spot to stand.  

Here are five ways -- now and over time -- we can make the most of this historic event.

1) Talk about the principles outlined by the organizers. Read here and discuss which issues you would like to stay involved in together after the march.

2) Spark a conversation about power. Go here for an hour-long activity that will help provide footing for how she defines power.  Ask her how she can continue to explore power in her life after the march.

3) Talk about solidarity. In the past, many divisions have existed among women.  And girls.  Ask her how she sees the roots of these divisions built in the culture.  Ask her what she can do about these divisions moving forward.

4) Talk about the role of men in the march.  Read this and then watch for ways men who are allies show up at the march.  Ask her how to create these expectations for men moving forward.

5) Ask her what she needs to feel safe and comfortable for 4-5 hours outside.  Think about clothes, food and company.  Dress well, pack comfort food and be inclusive.

Though I don’t think any of us can predict what’s to come,  the march is an excellent way to spark ongoing political engagement in the next generation of girls.  And now, more than ever, we are going to need their energy, insights and agitation.

I encourage comments and would love to hear what you think about this topic.  Post feedback here. You can also contact me by email: fivegirlpowers@gmail.com. Sign up for updates on topics related to girls and power here.

My blog, Power Trips, focuses on how to create a culture -- at home and in the community -- where girls are comfortable using power, and where the larger culture supports them to do so.

Shame is Trending: On Watching the Film Audrie & Daisy with My Daughter

On a cold night last weekend – a week or so after launching the Five Girl Powers Project – I huddled under my comforter with one of my daughters.  “Let’s watch a movie,” I said, secretly hoping we could sneak in a Book & Movie Discussion Activity before school starts and we head back to the grind of business.

“What about Akeelah and the Bee?” I asked, thinking, I loved spelling bees growing up, and that movie felt like a hug when last I watched it.  “Nah, not in the mood,” she said decisively.

“What about a documentary,” I shot back quickly, afraid of losing the moment with her.  “I heard Audrie & Daisy is amazing.” I honestly didn’t think she would be up for it.  But after pre-viewing the trailer, we agree to watch it.   I should say this about Lena.  She is a horse-loving, brainy high school sophomore who regularly attends girl power programs.  She can spot a slut-shame or negative girl bond attempt like a champ.

Audrie & Daisy is a movie about two teen girls who are sexually assaulted by boys they considered friends, boys who they knew. Daisy lives in a small town in Missouri and has several siblings, while Audrie lives in Santa Clara county, California, an only child.  Both girls passed out after drinking and were not conscious when the assault happened.  In the aftermath, both girls are humiliated online and harassed by their communities.

When Daisy’s mother describes how she found her daughter face-down in the yard, dumped like a bag of garbage, my heart stops.  I almost have to turn it off. But as the town splits sides, and the verdict reveals that it was way more important to shield the boys than provide justice for the girls, it became almost unbearable. “Girls have as much culpability as boys,” the sheriff says, in a matter-of-fact way that makes you think he issues traffic tickets with greater concern.  Daisy and her family end up leaving town after their house is literally burned to the ground.  As time goes slowly on, Daisy gets involved with survivor activism at the national level. She speaks out and finds the comfort of others. “The words of our enemies aren’t as bad as the silence of our friends,” she says in a quiet but determined voice. The family’s strength and support are unwavering, her older brother a role model for how a male can come out against sexual assault.

Audrie’s story turns a different, beyond heart-breaking course after the sexual assault. We quickly learn that, as she comes to believe her reputation is forever ruined, she takes her own life.  Watching pictures of her as she becomes a teenage, we begin to feel the weight of what’s about to be lost. Her mother describes Audrie’s modesty as she physically develops. “She added layer, upon layer, upon layer of clothing so you couldn’t tell the size of her breasts.”  We imagine this as we hear the details of the assault, that the handful of boys wrote in indelible Sharpie all over her body, with arrows pointing at her vagina and breasts. We understand why, after realizing there was a video of the assault, that boys stood around watching it on the schoolyard, and that everyone knew what happened, she posts on Facebook in a chat that “her life is over.”

It wrenches and enrages to watch this movie. At times it is unbearable.  But I don’t think I’ve watched a more important film with one of my daughters.  As my daughters navigate the waters of high school and college party culture, I intend to watch it with each one of them.

I have immeasurable respect and gratitude for Daisy, Audrie’s family, the national survivor’s group and the filmmakers for providing us with a way to break the silence and shame around sexual assault.