Jacqueline Reid-Walsh informs the reader both about the technical term as well as the extensive history surrounding the term, “girlhood.” In the beginning of her essay, Reid-Walsh raises some deep and thought-provoking questions, such as “who is included and who is excluded from being a girl?” This particular one resonated with me throughout the article, because from a male’s perspective this thought had never crossed my mind. Societal norms have created these exclusive boundaries, unfairly deciding who can and who can’t be a girl. As the essay progresses, Reid-Walsh shifts her focus onto explaining the history of girlhood found in literature, from its very first appearance in Samuel Richardson’s Clarrissa in 1747-1748 to present day.
In Mountain Wolf Woman: A Ho-Chunk Girlhood, by Diane Young Holliday, the term “girlhood” plays a large part in determining specific roles within the clan. While all of the children within the clan must help with methods of survival, girls and boys had predetermined roles that acted as a form of gender separation. Girls were handed roles of gathering food, cooking, and home arrangements while the boys were put in charge of hunting. For Mountain Wolf Women, “girlhood” also meant that older men were in charge of the girls’ decisions, including schooling and marriage.
Incredibles 2, directed by Brad Bird, had the powerful theme of female empowerment throughout the entire movie. Elastagirl was given a much more significant role this time around. Although Elastagirl is a grown woman and a mother of two, the theme of “girlhood” still applies because of the connotations that this term holds, just like Reid-Walsh discussed in her essay. When I think of the word “girlhood,” I think past the dictionary definition of simply being a girl, and think of roles of women empowerment and courage and equality to men. The common theme throughout Reid-Walsh’s essay, Mountain Wolf Woman: A Ho-Chunk Girlhood, and Incredibles 2 is that the roles women portray in stories, fictional or fact, matter a great amount in terms of the effect it has on readers and viewers, especially girls.