Living “Off the Grid”

This year on American Idol, fifteen-year old contestant, Jeneve Rose Mitchell describes her unique upbringing.   Jeneve Mitchell’s “girlhood” is shown as unusual of this time, however her “girlhood” is vey similar to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “girlhood” which we read about in Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Widler.  From milking cows, taking care of the family farm, and making her own music, Jeneve has lived a childhood much like Laura Ingalls Wilder. Jeneve lives “off the grid” in the Crawford, Colorado — 6 miles away from the nearest town. Living with no electricity required Jeneve to look for alternative activities that children living in the 21st century typically do not participate in.  However, these household activities were much like the ones Laura participated in while growing up.

When looking at the Keywords passage “Girlhood” in Keywords for Children’s Literature by Jacqueline Reid-Walsh, we can compare and contrast Jeneve Rose Mitchell’s girlhood to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s girlhood.  Laura Ingall Wilder’s girlhood was typical for girls of her time.  However, Jeneve is experiencing a very similar girlhood which happens to be very atypical for the 21st century.  When looking at Jacqueline Reid-Walsh’s definition of “girlhood”, she is questioning “who is excluded from “girlhood”?.” She is also looking at how girlhoods’ differ depending on race, culture, and time (Reid-Walsh 92).  Laura Ingalls Wilder’s girlhood was very common of white settlers, while Jeneve Mitchell’s girlhood is uncommon of her culture and this time period.  Living in the 21st century, girls are using technology more than ever, they are also attending various practices and lessons with children from their towns.  Jeneve does not have any technology to play with.  Living so far away from town restricts her from joining any teams or taking music lessons — it also isolates her from her friends and school. When looking at popular culture as an aspect of girlhood, would Jeneve contradict today’s definition of “girlhood”?  How does Jeneve’s unique upbringing improve and interfere with the experiences of her “girlhood”?

4 thoughts on “Living “Off the Grid””

  1. I think it is interesting that people living in rural areas of different states in the 21st century can still be so disconnected from society. I think you have brung up interesting questions on whether Jeneve would fit in with today’s definitions of “girlhood.” With so many people of this generation, challenging the notions of sexuality and gender, I wonder would society accept LGBTQ people, specifically feminine guys, who do not necessarily fit into what it is to be a “girl?”

  2. I think Jeneve’s lifestyle is definitely contradictory of what we know “girlhood” as today. Based on the Keyword’s essay on girlhood and how it was said that girlhood changes with time, place, and culture, I would argue that Jeneve does not fit today’s definition of girlhood. Based on the information you provided, I think it is safe to say that Jeneve doesn’t text her friends, she wouldn’t curl her hair with a curling iron (because it requires electricity), and she probably doesn’t listen to mainstream music on an iPhone– all of which I would argue are part of today’s definition of “girlhood”. This may make it hard for Jeneve to relate to other girls of her age. However, I think this further proves that girlhood is unique to each individual despite the fact that there is an “average” girlhood definition throughout each part of history.

  3. I have always wondered how my childhood would have been different had I not been exposed to so much technology. I’m curious to know if she was talented. It would be interesting if the extra time she had, from not participating in social media and the like, resulted in more practicing and therefore a more complete mastery of her art. This would absolutely help answer the question of whether talent is something everyone has an equal chance at or if it is simply a trait you are born with.

  4. I think Jeneve’s lifestyle is much different than many girls today, as you mentioned. It sounds like she doesn’t do what many girls do today, but is does that not make her fit the definition/keyword “girlhood”? I don’t think so. I think that her upbringing my interfere with what we know as “girlhood” but because of her upbringing she doesn’t necessarily know any better. Thinking back to the early 1900s or so, it was normal to live like Jeneve. Some may see her today, in society, as a “tomboy”?

Leave a Reply