It would come as no surprise to any of you who are active on social media (or who have an internet connection at all) that feminism and ‘girl power’ is gaining more and more attention on the web. As much as I would like to, I’m not going to use this article to give one of my best female empowerment and gender equality rants. It’s actually the current surge of female artists and other creatives in the media that is sparking interest.
The underground Riot Grrrl movement in the 1990s brought us girl power manifestos and DIY zines, and without it current independent art being produced by young people would look a lot different. I don’t know about you but I love nothing more than scrolling through social media feeds of powerful girls and women being able to share their creations, visual or otherwise on the internet. It’s as if sites like Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter are becoming safe havens where girls can share their views, interests and work with the support and encouragement of like-minded others.
It’s not exactly news that the internet is one of the best ways to get your voice heard and gain followers and support for whatever it is you are trying to communicate, which is why so-called ‘cyberfeminism‘ is a name given to the feminist messages being spread over the web, allowing even younger feminist supporters to share their written and visual diaries on social networks to voice their concerns and views in a safe and welcoming environment.
Not only is feminism becoming more open and talked about, but the expression of femininity is a growing trend in youth and popular culture. Typically ‘girly’ imagery – sweets and bubblegum, lace and frills, short pastel tennis skirts and glittery stickers are appearing all over the internet and in independent art. This overt femininity is a strong message that ‘feminine’ doesn’t equal ‘weak’, and that it is possible to be a strong, independent human being no matter what gender you identify with, or how much pink glittery stuff you wear.
Most of us are aware of the online magazine Rookie, started by teen Tavi Gevinson several years ago – now with thousands of readers and fans, and a large handful of creative contributors. And there’s plenty more where that came from – there are online girl-zines and collectives sprouting up everywhere you look asking for contributing artists and writers from all over the world. These online publications have a resemblance to the DIY photocopied zines of the riot grrrls, providing a platform to share views, concerns and interests with other girls across oceans and continents in a fun, artistic way – without having to even leave your bedroom. This transition from paper communication to cyberspace means almost anyone in our society can join in – creating and posting whatever they like at the click of a button, and letting viewers favourite, like, reblog and share to get their message out.
It only takes a few clicks on Etsy to find prints, clothing, pin badges and stickers promoting girl power and girl gangs – all, might I add, designed by young creatives. It only takes a few minutes of scrolling through Tumblr to find powerful fine art created by practicing young artists. I only have to log onto Twitter to see others my age or even younger spreading girl-to-girl love and support. And I don’t think there’s anything more encouraging or uplifting than that.