You’re walking around a grocery store. There’s a young girl skipping down the candy aisle. She’s donning a lavender princess dress and splotches of glitter are smeared on her eyelids. She picks up a candy bar, but it slips out of her delicate grip. She reacts by throwing her hands in the air and shouting “FUCK!”
Not what you would expect from a pristine, angelic little girl, right?
Females have been suppressed throughout history, and continue to be today. Girls that have yet to reach their teenage years, little children that need extra protection and are also at their most vulnerable phase of life, experience the silencing the most. Their opinions are not heard and their thoughts often unacknowledged. In Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder depicts her girlhood experience. The book takes place in the years 1869 and 1870. In this time period, children were meant to be seen and not heard. Laura is often hushed by her parents and others, and it is frowned upon for her to pester adults with questions. Laura is intelligent, but due to her age and her gender in this novel, she receives little respect.
Karen Sánchez-Eppler discusses various definitions of the word “childhood” in her essay in Keywords for Children’s Literature. She states, “Changes in the status of children are notable for what they indicate about shifts in social priorities, that is, for what they reveal about alterations in the desires and behaviors of adults” (Sánchez-Eppler, 36). Adults are beginning to acknowledge, as time goes on, that children are the future of the world and that they need to be heard and taught. Children are being educated and speak to their ideas. FCKH8, an activist t-shirt company, posted an attention-grabbing video on YouTube that features young girls (and one young boy) in their best dress-up clothes adorably using profane language to raise awareness about sexism and how society treats females. This exhibits the power girls have and the loosening of the suppressive grip on their little lives. This video was almost certainly scripted, but it makes a point that young girls are important and are better being heard than silenced. Their curiosity and ability to contribute to their world, qualities Laura Ingalls possessed, are finally appreciated after numerous years of quiet little princesses. Based on this video, small girls can, clearly, make a large impact. The essay about childhood and Wilder’s story expose how society has evolved to allow young girls to have the presence that they do today.