The future generation of women is making their mark even before they’ve left high school with a mix of warrior attitude and feminine spark. Think Tank Girl meets Bikini Kill.
Teen girls are choosing to change the world against a backdrop of socio-political and economical uncertainty by taking matters of equality, expression and women’s rights into their own hands.
They are leading the way of the future but also very much living in the moment, making their presence known through music, art, writing, social media and fashion.
With a mixture of socio-political awareness and existential teen nonchalance they signify the rebirth of full fledge feminism and a call to be heard, acknowledged, seen and respected.
To understand and speak to this movement of teen girls, we look at some of the key influencers, what is inspiring them, their values and what they represent for the future.
The growing number of magazines, online platforms and fanzines written by and for young women signals the rise of teen female empowerment. At the core of these outlets is the belief that the world cannot be lead without imagination, opinion and individuality.
Clover is a daily email newsletter for girls, created by former magazine editors Liza Darwin and Casey Lewis. It provides an online platform similar to newly launched (April 2016) School of Doodle, a digital space run by and for teen girls. The website was successfully crowd funded with the support of female icons such as Courtney Love, Yoko Ono, Kim Gordon and Kathleen Hanna.
Recently we also discovered Arts University Bournemouth graduate Sophie Brampton's fanzine and final year project "BabyGurl Zine". It explores the life of a young woman in the 21st century and reflects on feminism and in her own words "her interest in unusual and wacky art".
Recens magazine is also a leading example with 15 year old Founder Elise By Olsen sharing her Manifesto in Vice Magazine.
In a recent article published on Dazed also highlighting members of School of Doodle, 18 year old Amanda Gorman is portrayed. Named the first Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate for her performance of “Neighborhood Anthem”, she was already making her mark as an activist with the organization she founded One Pen, One Page, helping fight illiteracy and inequality through creative writing. Now enrolled in Harvard, she is an example of what future female leaders will look like and the influence they will seek and reach.
Looking back a few decades to where the Girl Gang aesthetic and attitude started, we need to credit the Riot Grrrl movement. This underground feminist group emerged from the USA's West Coast alternative and punk music scenes of the 1990s.
At first women held a marginal role in these male dominated counter-culture scenes. But quickly the gender balance changed through the formation of feminist, all-female (or mainly-female) bands such as Sleater Kinney (now re-united), Bratmobile and Bikini Kill. Their moto was to confront music scene sexism and uphold the anti-consumer do-it-yourself ethic and aesthetics of punk rock. Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of Bikini Kill (also mentioned above as one of the investors in Clover), sometimes wore Catholic schoolgirl skirts, while writing controversial words such as “Slut” on her body.
Still imbued with fighting female objectification, today’s Girl Gang is shifting towards a more "diplomatic" connotation, with the aim to see women and “society as a whole fall back in love with themselves”, to quote poet Deanna Rodger's from the recent BBC Documentary “Women who spit”.
Discover additional influences both visual and factual impacting the "Girl Gang" movement in the gallery below. And stay tuned for additional features reflecting on this trend.
By Geraldine Wharry