Girl power was accepted long before feminism was made popular by Beyoncé, HBO’s Girls, and Leslie Knope from Parks & Rec. Essentially the idea of girl power is the empowerment of girls. I am a feminist and take the label proudly. Since taking on the label, I have found fault with “girl power” as a term due to the favoring of girl power over feminism by individuals. I often have a conversation with my peers about girl power vs. feminism and typically they aligned themselves with girl power.
First off, I find fault with “girl power” due to its lack of diversity and acceptance in the name. Young “girls” are notified of their limitations in society and as a result a divide is created along with a divide created by gender inequality. I believe if we did not teach a implicit clear divide in genders, possibilities for individuals would be endless. Telling a “girl” that they can be the president of a Fortune 500 company is inspiring but also states an assumption of the child’s confidence due to their gender. Through upbringing and attitude around them, the child should not doubt of their abilities. Also, “girl power” attributes to the concept of gender binary. Individuals that do not associate their identities with “girl” are left out the equation of empowerment. In addition, girl power does not state the growth of an individual. Am I supposed to associate myself with girl power at 50?
In my opinion, girl power resembles a watered down, misogynist approved statement of feminism. The term enables the individuals to shy away from feminism. Girl power is easier to support because it widely accepted and does not have similar stereotypes of feminism. I believe girl power has a positive and easy going quality because it is framed and then stratified over feminism by mainstream media and patriarchy. I reserve “girl power” for the individuals afraid of the feminist label. Girl power is accepted due to its presented one dimensional message of women’s empowerment. Yes, feminism is about women’s empowerment but it is much more too. Women’s empowerment is simply a branch on the tree of feminism.
What is the goal of girl power? I think of girl power as tool of mainstream media. It is a filler word for where feminism should be. Girl power is comfortable. By comfortable, I mean, individuals do not really flinch when they hear the term. It is a more impartial, moderate, politically neutral term. To belittle feminism down to “girl power” accepts the misogynistic stamp of approval and allows undeclared feminists to be afraid of feminism. Feminism is not about comfort or pleasing a white male centered society. Appeasement and comfort is not an attainable goal. Complacency is the downfall to social change. The battle for equality is continuous.
Although some could make a counterargument that girl power is a way for feminism to be widely accepted without judgement due to stereotypes, that point fails to realize that feminist did not accept their stereotypes and it is a disservice to not recognize that. It is only beneficial for feminism to be accepted for its true qualities. Reproductive health, equal pay, safety in the workplace to the protection of trans women should be a basis for acceptance, not solely empowerment.
I hope that “girl power” is replaced with urgency to proclaim feminism. I want feminism be to truthfully represented and shared among masses, but also I want individuals to take delight in declaring feminism as the source of their empowerment and love for others.
Lets be bold. Proclaim, support and cherish feminism.