I Tried to Learn About Girls From Google

To commemorate International Women’s Day this year on March 8, The Philanthropist collaborated with Mount Saint Vincent University and the Alexa McDonough Institute for Women, Gender and Social Justice to offer a writing and publishing opportunity for girls participating in the 2019 Girls Conference in Halifax. This week, we’re publishing poetry/spoken word pieces written and presented by two of the conference delegates and speakers, El Jones and Mam-Mary SarrFox.

I tried to learn about girls from Google

Why do girls is what I wrote

Why do girls wear makeup, why do girls get periods

Is the way that it finished the quote

I thought maybe I could just change the search

So why are girls is what I tried

Why are girls so cute, why are girls called chicks

Is what the search engine replied

So then I just typed famous girls

I tried that out letter by letter

It gave me back 50 hottest women

It didn’t get any better.

I wanted to know about heroes

I wanted to see girls’ stories

But it seems that all anyone else wants to do

Is just reduce girls to your bodies

It seems no matter where I search

The message is just be attractive

But I didn’t want to judge other women

I wanted to see leaders and activists

But I can’t even blame them

When there’s no girls in our history books

If nobody’s ever taught us

That girls can be more than their looks

I thought about Greta Thunberg

15 years old at the UN

Leading the movement against climate change

So not all of our leaders are men

And then there’s Mari Copeny in Flint, Michigan

Fighting against lead in the water

She began at only 8 years old

So it looks like the future is daughters

Ruby Bridges was only 6

When she fought for her education

Crowds of screaming people tried to stop her

But she ended segregation

And I’m sure you know of Anne Frank

And the diary she wrote in the attic

Joan of Arc led the entire French army

Ada Lovelace invented programming

Mary Shelley was only 18

When she wrote Frankenstein

So it’s obviously not the truth

When they tell you this isn’t your time

When they say to sit down in the corner

When they say you’re too small or too young

When they say you’re not strong enough to lift it

When they tell you to bite your tongue

When they say that you can’t do science

When they say the things girls like are dumb

They’ll make fun of your pronouns or gender 

They say you look funny when you run

They bully you for your hijab

Or your head full of kinks and curls

They get mad at your dance at the powwow

And they’ll say you can’t because you’re just girls

And maybe you think you can’t either

You think others are braver or smart

Or maybe you want to make a difference

But you have no idea where to start

But the quietest girls can surprise you

Just think of a piece of blank paper

If you’ve ever had a paper cut

I wouldn’t underestimate her

Just think of the tiniest ant

Carrying 50 times her own weight

Size has nothing to do with it

Strength is something that you create

Maybe you say, but I’m just a raindrop

But a raindrop can join the storm

It’s when we each share of our power

That we see this world transform

Even one cup of water

Can do a phone or laptop damage

So now imagine joining our cups all together

They wouldn’t be able to manage

Think of the power of just one word

When we just say things that are true

How many girls and women joined together

Simply by saying me too

And the people we thought that have power

And we’d never get them to stop

When girls and women supported each other

They’re no longer there at the top

So that’s why they say you’re just cute

And tell you to wait your turn

They pat you on the head and say

We just have to watch the world burn

So they say cross your legs and be quiet

They say you’d be prettier if you’d just smile

They want you caught up in hating your body

So you don’t think you can do anything worthwhile

And so they’ll make you believe

That your skin or background is what defines

They only teach us that to hope

We don’t use the power of our minds.

You don’t have to be a genius

You don’t have to be specially gifted

Just stand up for what you believe in

And one day you’ll find that the whole world has shifted

You don’t have to have the most money

Just nurture your inner riches

And one day you will find that the tide that you rise

Means that all the boats have lifted

When you start to speak they’ll try to stop you

They’ll hate or they’ll just laugh

And then you’ll look back in the future

And find they’re all walking your path

And maybe one day we’ll sit down

And do a Google search

And your name will be there on the screen

Saying you changed the earth

But even if you never get awards

If you don’t get money or fame

If you’re out here making a difference

Those that matter will know your name

So don’t be defined by their boxes

Their limits or stereotypes

If they give you blank paper

What will be the history you write?

El Jones is a Halifax-based, poet-activist, journalist, scholar and teacher. She is the Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University – a role established in the mid-1980s by retired Canadian Senator Nancy Ruth.

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