The Stella Prize
Stella Writing Camp: Girls Write Up
Young women are constantly being presented with images of themselves as the sidekick, the love interest, or the victim. They are, as characters and living individuals, presented as young women who should look and act a certain way in order to succeed, and whose success is often defined by whether they maintain their feminine desirability as they accomplish it. They are told to 'know their place'.
Bossy. Slutty. Aggressive. Prudish. Precious. Princess. Hysterical. Whiny. Demanding. Dramatic. Oversensitive. Wallflower. This is the language young women hear, reducing them to contradictory stereotypes. But, if given a choice, what words would teens use to describe themselves? What would they tell us about who they really are? And how can we help them reimagine themselves and the world?
Stella Writing Camp: Girls Write Up is a writing intensive for teenage girls in Sydney and Melbourne, where they will have the opportunity to consider ways in which they can reclaim the language used against them (which, as we know, dominates the pages of the books they read). They will be offered the tools to make their voice by defying stereotypes, and discovering the ways in which they can use language to empower themselves and each other.
Teens will hear talks on the way language is used to reduce them to their gender – on and off the pages of books. They will experiment with forms, and creatively explore the different ways language is used and where they see it. They will participate in workshops hosted by local authors and thinkers where they will be encouraged to become the authors of their own stories, workshopping a piece of writing that can be presented at an open showcase at the conclusion of the day.
Peer-to-peer is currently the main way teenagers receive their information. The benefits of this event will extend far beyond the teenagers who attend, and will start an important conversation about gender representation in reading and writing directly with those who are being affected by it.
In 2018, the Stella "Girls Write Up" Writing Festival extended the program of workshops to include Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Port Macquarie, Brisbane and Wodonga.
Why did we fund this project? We believe this is an invaluable opportunity for young women to use literature and language as a tool to understanding their place in the world.