The TV Show’s Latest Episode Has the Feminism Young Girls Need

The TV Show’s Latest Episode Has the Feminism Young Girls Need

Last weekend I sat down and watched the latest Girl Meets World episode. In “Girl Meets STEM”, Riley, Maya, Lucas, Farkle, and the rest of their class are asked to conduct a science experiment where one lab partner drops a marble in water and the other lab partner figures out the science behind it.

After being relegated to the marble dropping position, Riley begins to question what feels off about this setup. That is until she walks into the science classroom that afternoon and realizes that all those who are dropping the marbles are girls.

“Girl Meets STEM” is the first time that the TV show has blatantly addressed the issue of feminism, and from where I’m standing, they did a great job at defining it in a very simple way. There are many layers to consider, with Rowan Blanchard (Girl Meets World‘s Riley) addressing the issue herself in an essay on intersectional feminism on her Tumblr page, but this episode is a potential conversation starter for families with both young girls and boys.

As the older cousin of pre-teen girls who are fans of Girl Meets World, I understand how important this episode is. They won’t ignore Riley the same way they sometimes choose to ignore me when I try to teach them about feminism.

When I was their age, I grew up with a deep understanding that I could be as smart and do as much as any of my boy cousins could. But I also grew up in a very traditional, Latino family that has never once mentioned feminism by its name. I want things to be different for my little cousins, I want them to be educated on the subject and understand that feminism at its core means that girls are human beings who should have the same perceived rights and opportunities as men. After we get past the basic definition, it’ll be easier to explain how women of color are affected by society’s sometimes limiting definition of feminism.

Girl Meets World got the ball rolling on the conversation and in an effort to keep the momentum up, here are a list of books that are either explicitly about feminism or cover feminist themes:


1. Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh

This is a thin picture book that should be on every girl’s bookshelf. It’s simple in nature, but is packed with women’s stories that hold the potential to inspire a girl of any age.


2. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede 

For those young readers who have a particular fascination with fantasy, The Enchanted Forest centers on a spunky princess who will fight her own battles with laughs, ingenuity and as the strong girl she is.


3. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

A big part of understanding feminism is understanding the frameworks under which feminist ideals meet resistance. For Latin@s, this is the patriarchal system that is sometimes second nature to families. Through Esperanza’s story we learn about what it’s like to grow up in a Latin@ family in Chicago with ideas of your own.


4. The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

Parvenu’s story is a good starting point for introducing a pre-teen to feminism and gender inequality in other countries. Throughout the book we see how the only way she can help her family is by pretending to be a boy — highlighting how girls are considered second-hand citizens.


5. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

While there are some ways that J.K. Rowling’s characters can fall short, when it comes to inclusiveness especially, there are other ways in which Hermione can be any girl’s role model and hero.


6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

This classic shows how empowerment and strength can come in different forms.


7. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

In many cases schools have already mentioned Malala in some shape or form, introducing her memoir into a reading list could encourage girls to see that you can impact change at any age.


Which feminist books or TV shows for young women would you add to this list? Sound off in the comments below.

Cover image courtesy of Playbuzz.