Buzz, Press

Emma Gilbey Keller, Slate

As DoubleX begins to create its new website identity, I’d like to shine the spotlight on the activities of the next generation of women, the so-called fourth wave of feminists, as today’s teens and tweens have been labeled.

On Monday night I took my two girls to a tween production of Keep Your Eyes Open, put on by The Arts Effect Theatre Lab in New York.

The cast of nine girls ranged in age from 10 to 12, and the performance was a kind of mini stage-version of DoubleX. The heroine launched a website, complete with webisodes, to deal with the same issues we talk about here. Her aim was to challenge the girl v. girl mindsets that takes root in middle school and turn them into a girl + girl equation. She wanted to create a community, both on the Internet and in her daily life. And she did. she was discouraged by negative comments on her blog, to the point where she almost quit, but she came back and kept it. In the process she took on mean girls, superficiality, consumerism, harassment, diet, and boys. Quite a feat for a two-hour show.

So there are blogs, reviews, forums, news, social-networking, and videos. Best of all are the videos. Regular soap-opera style webisodes of girls’ lives are streamed onto the website. This week, if you want a quick dose of one girl’s entertainment trip to the school bathroom, go to the home page and prepare to laugh.

Anything that has women and grils supporting and listening to each other gets my vote, but Monday night’s show wasn’t aimed at me, it was meant for my daughters. I watched them as they riveted during the scenes of teenage fights over designer clothes, sad girls crying at their sense of isolation, and party girls dancing to highly sexist lyrics that were then deconstructed and revealed to be offensive and derogatory. Nicholas Kristof was the show’s pin-up because he is “the only columnist who writes about women’s issues.” (Hard to believe any 10-year-old would actually say that, let alone know who he is.)

Middle school was shown to be a harsh, angry world. Middle-school girls were depicted as intelligent and articulate women of the future, prevented from being kind sympathizers by peer pressure. My girls thought the play was brilliant. I hoped it was an escape from reality, rather than a depiction of reality itself. I love the fact that they will have their own website. There can’t be enough websites for women.