Rising Voices

Learn more about the Rising Voices Fellowship, JWA's thought-leadership program for female-identified teens.
iPhone Screen

The Insincerity of Instagram

by Ilana Goldberg

I am not opposed to documenting experiences through photographs—often looking at one picture is enough for me to remember an entire sequence of events that I would otherwise have forgotten. However, in an age of social media, the obsession with producing a photo that makes an event look fun, that makes the people involved look glamorous, can be a misrepresentation of the event.

"No Strings Attached" Movie Poster, 2011

No Strings Attached? No Way.

by Maya Sinclair

In the film industry, 2011 was the year of casual sex. In January, Paramount Pictures released No Strings Attached, starring Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. The movie documents two best friends who think that introducing physical intimacy into their relationship won’t complicate things and that feelings will not be involved, resulting in a “no strings attached” relationship.

Topics: Film
Odetta Holmes

Odetta Holmes, Singing for the Voiceless

by Eliana Melmed

Through her blues music, Holmes inspired people all over America to take a stand for black equality. She performed at numerous rallies, advocating for civil rights for all; in fact, her music is often called the “soundtrack of the Civil Rights movement.” 

Topics: Civil Rights, Music
Alicia Garza

#Blacklivesmatter Matters

by Ilana Goldberg

2014 was a year when police brutality against black men was brought to the forefront of the American consciousness. The police killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice, along with no legal sentences for the perpetrators, arranged themselves into a pattern that was difficult for the public to miss. Among the responses were protests, riots, classroom discussions, and the swift rise of the hashtag “#blacklivesmatter.”

Topics: Civil Rights
Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar’s Pursuit of Happiness

by Rachel Landau

Of all the things I take for granted, the value I most often overlook is democracy. To reside in a thriving democratic country that gives a voice to its people and places checks and balances on its government is more than I can ever fully appreciate, and even though I have doubts about certain policies, at least I have the opportunity to voice these questions. As a young writer, I am especially grateful for my ability to articulate my opinions without fear of harm.

Topics: Civil Rights
Maya Angelou, cropped

Still She Rose

by Ellie Kahn

It’s hard to rise above the fray. To disregard all of the weight attached to us, to be free. There are many aspects of life that will try to ground us, to clip our wings and to take away our voices, but it is the voices that demand to be heard that guide us. Maya Angelou had one of those voices. In all aspects, she was a whirlwind force to be reckoned with. She excelled as a poet, author, singer, dancer, professor, screenwriter, actress, advocate, and avid feminist.

Malalai Joya, February 19, 2007

Lessons from Malalai Joya, Afghanistan's Feminist Voice

by Maya Sinclair

In a country where some consider being born a woman a capital offense, Malalai Joya is the epitome of bravery. An Afghani woman, Joya has overcome hardship, loss and great obstacles and yet has never given up on her quest to make the world a better place.

Topics: Feminism
Stav Shaffir

“Hatikvah” of Stav Shaffir

by Eliza Bayroff

Often, when I see an article about Israel in a magazine or a newspaper, a gnawing sense of despair wells up in my chest. As the country’s political and class conflicts seems to stagnate and worsen, I have found it easier to avoid such news altogether. I don’t like feeling that way. I hate feeling that way. Though I may not always agree with the actions of the state, I am invested in Israel and want her to succeed and thrive. But as I grow older and more aware, my cynicism often diminishes my capacity for hope.

Andrew Sullivan at his Wedding

Know Hope: Learning Civil Rights with Andrew Sullivan

by Sophie Edelhart

Andrew Sullivan came into my life when I entered high school. At that time, he was writing a blog for the Daily Beast called “The Dish” and I read it Every. Single. Day. He wrote about politics in Washington, the Iraq War, different facets of American culture, conservatism, Christianity. But what he is best known for his role in the fight for same sex marriage.      

Topics: LGBTQIA Rights
Malala Yousafzai, July 22, 2014

Getting Girls Educated

by Yana Kozukhin

Western feminists have a habit of writing about and advocating for “first world” issues: body image, television and gaming tropes, the wage gap, you name it. It’s logical to be most concerned with the society in which you live and on which you have the most influence, and there’s nothing wrong with this reality. 

Kid Watches Television

Life Beyond the Screen

by Rachel Landau

With the newly popular theme of including feminist ideals in advertising—such as Pantene’s campaign against apologizing—I can’t help but express my gratitude. It’s nice of these companies to give a brief hint at achieving societal equality.

Woman Jogging

Jiggling Toward Inclusivity

by Maya Sinclair

This Girl Can is a nonprofit based in the UK that “is here to inspire women to wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgment is a barrier that can be overcome.” In their main video campaign, women of all races, shapes, and ability levels are featured exercising and enjoying themselves. They are proud of who they are and are proud of their active lifestyles.

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Femvertising And What It Says About Us

by Yana Kozukhin

When we see ad campaigns that preach messages about body positivity, girl power, or defying stereotypes, it’s important to take them with a grain of salt.

Ilana Goldberg Puts on Lipstick

Ad Conscious and Self-Conscious

by Ilana Goldberg

Dove tells me I am beautiful as I am. Pantene exposes the double standard between men and women. Always reminds me that “like a girl” should never be an insult. 

Goldie Blox Advertisement

Size Zero, Flawless Skin

by Eliana Melmed

I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a woman with a pimple on the cover of a magazine. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a woman with small breasts or a big stomach in an advertisement. The only time I’ve ever seen a woman in an ad with even slightly dry skin is in a “before” image.

Bars of Soap Image

Soap: The Slippery Slope

by Ellie Kahn

“The greatest skin care discovery of all time!” boasts the 1957 black and white commercial, showing a still of the New York skyline. The camera then pans up to show a flock of white doves flying away, leaving a giant white Dove soap bar to fill the screen. The crackling voice explains the benefits of using a Dove bar instead of another soap product, demonstrating this by having a beautiful blonde young woman wash each side of her face with a different product.

Frustrated Girl

Advertising Is Advertising Is Advertising

by Sophie Edelhart

Advertising is advertising is advertising. I will preach this from the mountaintops. When people talk about the cultural ramifications of “feminist” advertising, I have to roll my eyes a little bit. Advertising has one main goal: to sell people things. The methods employed to make people buy  these things might change but advertising is not deep, it’s not intellectual, and frankly, I don’t think it’s all that important.

Topics: Feminism
Lysol Advertisement

Seeing is Believing

by Eliza Bayroff

These advertisements, written roughly forty to fifty years ago, speak for themselves. (I found them in a blog post called “Vintage Politically-Incorrect Advertising”—never have I been more grateful for political correctness.) Interestingly, all of them seemed to be aimed at men. I suspect the reason for that is a simple one: the men, at the least in the eyes of the ad men, were the ones with the money in their pockets.

Women's Razor Advertisement circa 1930s, cropped

The Gender Politics of Shaving

by Maya Sinclair

I have never prioritized shaving my legs. I’ve always found it a nuisance and a burden and have therefore generally avoided it all together. When questioned why, I would always come up with answers such as “bending over in the shower is too much work” or “I was in a rush,” but recently, after seeing a very thought provoking photo in which a women is depicted shaving flowers off her body, I began to further question my reasons for not shaving my legs.

Topics: Feminism
Eliana Melmed with her Two Great-Grandmothers

The Rebel Women of Passover

by Eliana Melmed

My grandfather starts every Pesach Seder with the same opening lines. He talks about how he can remember being at the Seder table with his grandfather, who was once at a Seder table with his grandfather, and if you follow the generations back only a few more times you are right back at the original Pesach celebration, the escape from Egypt. These few words add so much meaning to my Pesach experience; I feel a direct relation to the Jews who escaped slavery so long ago. But while I love being able to draw this connection to the ancient past, something has always struck me about this tale: how come women are not part of this story of family linkage?

Topics: Feminism, Passover
Students at the Library circa 1910s

The Seditious Student: Small Steps to Rebellion

by Ilana Goldberg

I do not break rules. I color inside the lines, a textbook example of a goody two-­shoes. This is mainly because I am afraid of what will happen if I am caught breaking the rules. More specifically, I am afraid of the question of “why.” I like to have reasons for everything that I do, and so a question like, “Why did you hop that fence?” or “Why did you eat ice cream for breakfast?” leave me feeling like a complete deer in the headlights. 

Topics: Schools
Bella Abzug at a Women Strike for Peace Protest

Speaking Out and Standing Up

by Ellie Kahn

If you had asked me two years ago if I thought of myself as a rebel, I would have been completely taken aback. I also would have said “no!” in a shocked tone, and ask you what on earth had led to that conclusion. I’ve always thought of rebels as people who resist authority or control and honestly, I don’t resist.

Topics: Feminism
Rachel Landau's Classmate at her Power Up Graduation

Fighting Back

by Rachel Landau

Can someone please tell me when taking advantage of women became an acceptable thing to do? Stories of assault on college campuses and towards so many people—as well as the overwhelming lack of prevention—give quite the impression that violence is an untouchable part of society. I’ve learned recently, though, that it doesn’t have to be.

Topics: Activism
Text Books

The Right Rebellion

by Yana Kozukhin

I am not your classic rebel. I have never been overcome by the desire to dye my hair a shocking color or pierce a part of my body that would make strangers gag, nor is there any sort of intrinsic teenage longing to break mailboxes, have sex, and drive drunk hidden within my unstable and developing adolescent brain. It’s hard to believe that the majority of my peers could be particularly rebellious either. 

Emma Goldman, 1886

Trying To Be The Iconoclast

by Sophie Edelhart

It is telling that the when you Google “anarchy”, two definitions come up: one that calls it a “state of disorder” and the other, “a political ideal.” But in my mind, to paraphrase Ellen Willis, anarchy is not a violent rebellion but an overhaul of societal consciousness. I find it more compelling now to be a critic, of everything, because to live critically is to live truthfully.

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