Megaphones to Megabytes: The Evolution of Feminism

As a feminist organization, we are often asked what feminism means right now, in the real world. Many of the issues that took our tenacious, demonstrating sisters of the ’70s and ’80s to the streets remain obstinately the same, but how we make ourselves heard has gone from megaphones to megabytes.

Today’s young feminists don’t have to shout in our city’s public spaces in order to be heard. They are challenging the status quo online, using digital megaphones that reach millions and millions of people worldwide.

Megaphones to Megabytes: Evolution of Feminism InfographicIn a south Scarborough strip mall, teenage feminists gather at YWCA Toronto’s Girls’ Centre in the ‘media hub’ they’ve made for themselves on the third floor of an office building. Open since 2009, the Girls’ Centre walls are covered in photos of girls learning self defence, web development, online safety, video advocacy and public speaking.

These teenage girls call themselves feminists. What that means to them is an expectation that they will have an equal share of opportunities, a voice at all levels and the freedom to explore their own identity. 

With their self-possessed independence and teenaged technical savvy, these girls are the next generation of Canadian feminists.

They are trained navigators of the web’s digital neighbourhoods, where they let all the ‘residents’ know just what their demands are as girls in the world.

Raised online, these girls think critically about how their demographic is represented in the media. With support from the Canadian Women’s Foundation, they created a video letter, posted it online and addressed it: Dear Media.

Written, directed and edited by the Girls’ Centre girls, they shout out for more realistic portrayals of girls in TV shows, ads, magazines, and videos: not so skinny, so blonde, or so casually rich. With the simplest of explanations as to why this brings them together to protest, one of the girls says “that’s not me.”

They expect inclusion and representation. And when they don’t get it, they go online to let everyone know this isn’t going down well with teenage feminists.

The girls learned important skills from Mozilla and Symantec, who provided volunteer training in coding, web making, and online safety. They also learned video production and editing skills, which they applied to create their second video Girl Up.

A call for action around ‘isms’, Girl Up rejects stereotypes and labels. The video shows the girls once again doing what they do so well – letting the world know that things aren’t meeting their expectations. So things had better start changing. Soon.