Yesterday we, along with a small group of girls from my daughter’s Sunday School class, went to see Girl Rising.
The film is rated PG-13, but I would have felt comfortable with my children seeing it as young as ten. However, there were families that did not let their middle school daughters come with us, thinking the content would be too upsetting.
Frankly, the content is supposed to be upsetting. Nobody should be delighted by the obstacles in a girl’s quest for education. Nobody should find poverty amusing.
I was surprised at how softly the most sinister issues were handled. Although the facts concerning child marriage, rape, and slavery were honestly stated, they were not graphically depicted. I think a much younger or naive child might even miss the references within some of the stories.
The girls, writing about their lives with assistance from writers of their individual lands, emphasized the transformative power of education or their own strength. These young people did not want to be (or be treated as) victims. They want opportunities to learn and grow.
I’m not sure what the girls in our little group took away from the film. Most of them seemed moved by it, but they didn’t relate to the girls in the movie. These aren’t things they think about, living in middle class America.
A couple of the adults with us commented that they hoped, if nothing else, the girls would appreciate what they have. I doubt that. Those types of feelings don’t last long, and my goal in suggesting the film was not to induce guilt in a bunch of teens.
I hope they don’t forget what they heard. I hope they heard stories of resiliency, stories of people reaching out to help others, stories that said, “You, girl, are important to society. You have a brain and a voice. Use them.”
If that thought guides them to become a leader, an activist for those without a voice, fantastic. If it encourages them to be a better student or citizen or friend, that’s great, too.
Girl Rising is only showing in theaters for a week. If it’s playing near you, try to see it with a girl you love.