On this page you will find stories that were produced by young women in St. Petersburg and New York City over 2014-2015. While our story base is growing -- and themes young women touch upon expanding -- we have grouped our stories into themed categories including Respect and Values; Landscapes We Navigate; Gender Roles and Traditions; Social Violences / Self Violences and Violences Within Family and Relationships.
We urge you to engage with these stories: watch them closely, listen to them deeply, embed yourself in their experiences, share them with people you think would understand, and please leave comments. We ask that you support these young women as they spark a chain of compassion and belonging!
Respect and Values
Our first four (of 25+ created) digital stories released here for the Girl-talk-Girl project come from two different cities, within two different countries, from four highly unique young women. Yet taken as a whole these stories are threaded with the major themes and questions that underpin so many of the young women's stories produced through GTG, and are part of young women's everyday experiences globally.
The themes driving this group of stories include respect and value, and burning questions such as: How do I present myself as a young woman today either on the street, walking home, visiting a new city with a friend, or within the groups that I belong? As well as: How do I protect myself from the everyday violence against women that is often invisible but ever-present?
Seeking change, all of the young women that produced these stories inspire us to not only to express ourselves, to say something, to recognize that our voice is valuable, but to ask bigger questions such as: How can we be part of the solution? What action can we take?
We ask that you engage with these digital stories that the young women in the program so generously and honestly produced – let them spark dialogue! Let them spark change!
Landscapes We Navigate
These four diverse stories from three young women including two from New York City and two from St. Petersburg.
While at first glance these stories might seem vastly different – from those small but potentially dangerous decisions you make on a night out with friends, to exclusions and feelings of inadequacy when working in male dominated professions, to hate crime including heinous act of corrective rape, to online sex work and harassment – we can’t help but see those physical, virtual, professional, human, and social landscapes that young women are constantly being challenged to navigate as a powerful, common, and, in some cases, intensely dangerous thread.
Taken separately each of these stories inspire so much dialogue and spark so many questions, we hope that you feel compelled to comment. Taken as a group we feel compelled to ask:
What immediate and potential violences are embedded in the spheres within which I operate? How do the decisions I make at a particular moment, in a particular place leave me open to violence?
How are the inequalities and exclusions I feel and see normalized in the world around me?
How does my sexuality and identity, and the intense fear, hate, and prejudices of others deeply jeopardize my safety?
Who am I as a young woman, and who do I become, and why, when I am at work, online, out with friends? Finally, what rights do I have in the multiple, sometimes hazy and little understood, landscapes that I crisscross every day?
Gender Roles and Traditions
This week we feature two stories from young women in St. Petersburg, both focusing on traditional gender roles and social norms within particular contexts. These two simple but quite powerful stories explore two different topics including the norm that men pay for women (and that it is “abnormal” for a woman to desire otherwise), and that only men, in some contexts, can be poets (or carpenters, or fill in the blank where you live).
We feel these two stories can spark some interesting conversations as both stories beckon us to ask: How do traditional gender roles connect with equality and independence? In what ways and forms would you consider the enactment of traditional roles a form of violence? And, how have traditional gender roles been normalized and internalized by young women (and men) all over the world?
Social Violences / Self Violences
These stories are all from New York City, and each one is as powerful as the next. They are diverse yet deeply connected spanning bullying, internalized racism and homophobia, the pain of being an undocumented teen, what it means to be “pretty” in today’s world, eating disorders, and self-esteem.
We believe that all of these stories call to mind the issues surrounding social acceptance both from the external world and from within ourselves. For us the young women’s experiences with the multiple violences in their lives continue to form a kaleidoscope of meanings and issues. Some of these multi-colored violences include viewing ourselves through negative lenses, using our bodies to feel love, blaming ourselves for violences perpetrated against us, putting our health at risk because of the pressures around us including expectations of femininity.
This week let these brave women’s stories impact you: begin to think deeper about the ways in which the beliefs, prejudices, and fears of society are internalized by all of us, and please join the dialogue.
Though these stories revolve around the theme of Violences within Families and Relationships including friends, they span the multiple harsh violences that will impact at least 1 in 4 women on this planet in their lifetime.
Depicted in these stories are heinous interconnected forms of violence including psychological violence and emotional abuse within the home perpetrated by various family members such as parents towards daughters or brothers towards sisters; unspeakable sexual violence including child molestation perpetrated by a family member, and rape by a “friend” on a weekend away – violences that render many of us mute – and connectedly, domestic violence which sometimes includes (though not always) forms of physical violence in the home between parents, and parents and children, and other family members.
Though we can try, there is no simple way to peel these violences apart – each feeding on itself and clinging to each other, making it difficult to understand which experience to connect with, which emotion we feel – anger, pain, sadness – when we let the young women’s stories wash over us. We do know this: all of the young women that shared their stories vehemently expressed one wish for other young women: That they remember this -- don’t let the violence that happened to you define you; remember you can overcome this, you are not alone, you are stronger than you can imagine.
We revere all of the young women that have taken part in this project and that were brave enough to share their stories with us. This week we will post the remainder of the stories and ask as ever that you join the dialogue and honor the voices of all the participants.