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taking back girl power – lyn mikel brown

This clip is a TEDx talk by Lyn Mikel Brown, a Professor of Education at Colby College and founder of the non-profit groups Hardy Girls, Healthy Women and the SPARK movement. Mikel Brown argues that the concept of girl power – which originated in the Riot Grrrl feminist punk rock movement of the early 90s – has been co-opted by corporate media. She argues that media has appropriated feminism with politically weak versions of female empowerment, such as the Spice Girls, Sex and the City, and Bratz. Mikel Brown asks the question: “How do we empower girls when empowerment has been so co-opted by the media?” She goes onto discuss the work of Hardy Girls Healthy Women in their effort to inspire girl-led feminist media activism.


Who or what do you think of when you hear the term ‘girl power’? Is girl power a message you heard or saw when you were growing up?

What do you see as some of the differences between Riot Grrrl and the Spice Girls?

Mikel Brown talks about girl power being “co-opted by corporate media”. What does this mean? Why might this be a problem?

Mikel Brown talks about starting a Change.org petition, and satirizing sexist ads online. Do you think technology and new media allow girls to ‘talk back’ to the media? Do you use new media to express your opinions? How might you use technology to encourage activism on an issue you care about?

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