August 13, 2010

Feminist Mother Goose + AAUW + Bikini Kill + Feminism at Camp= Cleo

Filed under: Featured Feminist — Tags: , , , , , — Melanie @ 5:08 am

Jill be nimble, Jill be quick

If Jack can do it, so can you.

The book of Feminist Revised Mother Goose Rhymes was Cleo’s first introduction to feminism.

She was 6.

After being repeatedly bullied by boys at her school, Cleo’s mother went to LAUSD‘s Gender Equity Commission for help. The GEC’s director, a tiny woman “who took no shit,” stepped in. She was the type of woman who didn’t ask, she told people how it was going to go and became Cleo’s first feminist mentor. She gave Cleo her first public speaking gig at a panel for what she later learned was a published study on girls, what we know as How Schools Short Change Girls.

While that was her last formal brush with feminism, this impressive early introduction is rare and, without a doubt, played a pivotal role in Cleo’s development as a girl and her later identification as  a feminist. Early introductions to feminism, not just diluted versions such as donning t-shirts emblazoned with the marketing slogan “Girls Rock,” are not usual among young people. That’s why self-identified feminist Ruby, the 7 year-old featured on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party, and Cleo are such extraordinary stories. In my line of work as a Women’s Studies professor at a community college, I find that most young women and men come to feminism after there is much to repair.

Cleo answers the question, “what if young girls were given women’s history and a feminist sensibility early in life?”