Rowan Blanchard Is Full Of Wisdom About Feminism, Female Representation in Media
In August, Girl Meets World star and all-around dazzling person Rowan Blanchard wrote a three-part essay, posted to her Instagram, about the challenges and importance of intersectional feminism. The essay was well-written, nuanced, sensitive, and even more striking considering it was penned by a 13-year-old who said she only learned about feminism “a year ago.”
The essay, which you can read here, here, and here, caught the attention of major news outlets and it was shared en masse by people all over the globe, especially considering it followed in the wake of the Twitter non-fight between Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj that called attention to intersectional feminism and the different ways that black women experience sexism.
Rowan Blanchard proved herself a strong feminist voice then, and she’s continuing her reign now.
In a new interview with MTV, Blanchard spoke at length about her beliefs, role models, and her accomplishments, both those in the past and the ones she’s working on. Here’s why Rowan is one to watch, both as an actor and an activist.
Rowan commented on her young age, saying that she doesn’t think it’s that remarkable that she’s only 13 and so well educated:
“Personally, I think what I wrote stands out at any age. I don’t think it gets more credit because of my age or less credit because of my age, and I don’t think there’s an age limit for education. I learned about feminism a year ago, and I’ve become passionate about it within this year. It was nice that people were acknowledging, like, ’Oh, it’s good that she wrote this at 13,’ but at the end of the day, I think it’s good when anyone has this conversation, whether they’re 10 or 45.”
Blanchard also had a lot to say about the way teen girls are portrayed in the media and on television. She has a problem with the stereotypical vapid, boy-crazy trope that so many young, teenage girl characters are forced to portray:
“Look at the way that we’re portrayed in a lot of kids’ TV! That’s why I’m very proud of my show because on so many shows, they portray teens, but especially teen girls, as these idiots. It’s all about boys. ‘I love boys, and I hate all of my best friends. They’re all so mean.’”
Obviously, Rowan has vowed to change all that, and she’s got a head start at 13, with a fanbase of millions. She cites those girls who follow her, saying that they want wider representation and a more honest narrative, “Why would you want those kinds of girls to be representing us on television when I can name you 200,000 of my Twitter followers who are well-grounded, brave and strong girls?” Why, indeed?
Blanchard’s activism and her social ideas have even influenced the writing of her Disney show, which is a feat in and of itself. Girl Meets World began as an offshoot of intense Internet nostalgia, but it has since grown into a sensitive, politically-aware sitcom every bit as poignant as the original. And that has to do, in part, with Blanchard. Again, she’s 13.
We’re doing an episode about feminism, and it’s called ’Girl Meets Sludge.’ The statistics of young girls in math and science is much lower than boys, so we did an episode about that, about the gender bias against girls in science. It’s great that we can use our platform to talk about these issues because they’re important and they’re affecting young people.
She’s also using that platform to shine a light on other social issues that are near and dear to her heart:
We want as many kids represented on our show as possible, so I’ve talked to the writers about having a gay or lesbian character for next season because I really would love that. I also really want an episode about racism because that’s a huge issue, and I just want our show to cover as many topics as we can because of the position that we’re in. I think it’s important.
Yeah, you know, she just casually “talked to the writers” of her hit Disney show about some relevant cultural ideas, no biggie. Is anyone else truly inspired and blown away by the intelligence of this girl? She’s a hell of a lot smarter than most adults I know, famous or no. And it’s clear that Disney isn’t the only medium she’s exploring.
Blanchard is also starting “some kind of magazine that celebrates all women and all teenagers — gay, straight, trans — and make it by teens”:
“My friend and I are trying to start and annual magazine-type thing that is by teens, for teens. All of my friends are so intelligent, but you would never know that because of the way the media portrays teens. They have so many views on everything — from feminism to police brutality to Islamophobia. Just tons of things that are getting written about by people who are my age that aren’t getting recognized because of their age.
So maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked that she’s so smart, after all. Maybe I, too, am underestimating teens all around the world with important opinions, simply because they don’t have a loud voice. But if one thing is certain, it’s that Rowan Blanchard and her friends, which include Zendaya and Amandla Stenberg, will change all that.
Blanchard is looking at a bright future, whether it’s in acting, directing or becoming “a human rights lawyer.” Her solution? “I’ll do them all at the same time!”
You go, girl.