Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Heros to many
March 10, 2013 12:19 PM   Subscribe

Zine-publishing 13-year old girls from 1996, outcast as "Dirty Girls", talk about their experience.
"Crossroads School.. how much it has changed. Im currently in 9th grade there and every Wednesday at lunch I attend Feminism Club to discuss all sorts of topics surrounding equal rights and all the things these girls stood for. I sad to watch this and realize how harsh the upperclassman were but it also very interesting to observe how much the school has changed (for the better)." - YouTube comment by Isabel Levin.
posted by urbanwhaleshark (25 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was some painful shit to watch, especially the other girl dissing them as "dimestore feminism." Something I'm sure that girl heard somewhere and it made her feel clever to say it. Hard to remember what heartless know it alls so many if us were as teens.

Would be nice to talk to those girls now, hope they came out ok.
posted by emjaybee at 1:17 PM on March 10, 2013


As a politically active youngin', I think back to certain people in high school and college I conflicted with who, despite their age, were shockingly conservative and pro-institution, I think largely as a function of privilege and wealth that was handed to them, obviously not earned. These people looked down on disruption.

I don't think the roles we play out and half the shit we say at that age are necessarily insightful as to our true character as we grow older, but man I could watch shit like this for hours. I also vividly remember growing up in the 80's and 90's and wishing I lived in California.
posted by phaedon at 1:18 PM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Being "different" in school was completely worth it. I remember the taunts and the names. I remember people telling me and my friends that we should kill ourselves. We were outcasts. We didn't choose it. Thank the creator for zines. In a lot of ways they, along with the BBS scene, skateboarding and punk music, helped me survive the 1990s.

The guys I hung out with have all went on, with few exceptions, to have full and interesting lives. Most of us ended up in IT. I would love to know where these women are now. I just hope that they survived and thrived like we did.
posted by extraheavymarcellus at 1:18 PM on March 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


certain people in high school and college ... were shockingly conservative and pro-institution, I think largely as a function of privilege and wealth that was handed to them, obviously not earned.

I don't think it's a simple as that. If this was at the Crossroads School in Santa Monica that I had heard about, almost all of those kids had privilege and wealth handed to them.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:23 PM on March 10, 2013


This is absolutely worth watching all the way through to the end. Thanks for posting. Seeing the students' visceral reaction to the zine ... there can be immense value in art that causes discomfort.
posted by compartment at 1:25 PM on March 10, 2013


I don't think it's a simple as that. If this was at the Crossroads School in Santa Monica that I had heard about, almost all of those kids had privilege and wealth handed to them.

I'll give you that. I wonder then what factors in to how kids shape their identity so differently when they arguably have such similar backgrounds. It's like watching a new chemical reaction taking place for the very first time.
posted by phaedon at 1:37 PM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Regardless of the quality of the zine, I love the way their faces light up when they're asked about it.
posted by book 'em dano at 1:39 PM on March 10, 2013


Signups are still open for the Young Atheists Club I founded, though last time I checked the sheet it was spring of 1995.

We declared the Fellowship of Christian Athletes our mortal enemies and busied ourselves with pranks and disruptive shenanigans aimed at making their lives a little less cushy. All in all, a fun way for a segment of misfits to be in the foreground for once in 1990's Bible Belt, Texas.
posted by item at 1:47 PM on March 10, 2013


Hard to remember what heartless know it alls so many if us were as teens.

Yeah, if I could erase the memory of anyone who knew me between the ages of about eleven and, say, nineteen, I think the world would be a better place for everyone.

That said, things get better on an individual level, not just society progressing and stuff. For example, one of my very very best friends from high school (he graduated in 2000) told me about a year ago that he saw someone from his graduating class who now works for a same-sex rights organization and told my friend, really earnestly, that this stuff is important and we should all be doing something about it. My friend was like "Dude, I'm bi, I wasn't out in high school but basically all my friends were, I was a member of the GSA, I've been saying this for years!" but it was still really nice to see this guy having matured and being actively really respectful of people with different experiences from his own.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:55 PM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


That was wonderful and painful and reminded me all too keenly of high school and of the 90s, though I'm a bit older, having graduated from college in 1995. But it also reminded me of the happy-sad feeling of nacent hope, how tentatively and and in fits and starts we tried to climb out of stifling suburban echo-chambers. Before the web.
posted by desuetude at 2:02 PM on March 10, 2013


Regardless of the quality of the zine

You know, when a group 13 year olds make a Zine, you're not generally expecting the result to be a glossy junior version of Ms. I mean, we're talking about 7th graders here, and they've obviously put together the project out of their own passion, their own experiences, and their own resources.

Which is a lot more than you generally expect out of any 7th grader.

And the very reaction of their slightly older peers shows that this project hit a lot closer to its intended mark than many projects of people who are far older and supposedly far more sophisticated.
posted by flug at 2:24 PM on March 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


For those wondering what became of the dirty girls, the guy who made the video commented to say the following:

"Amber left the school a year later to go to an arts high school in LA where I think she was much happier and fit in much better. I actually met up with the dirty girls in 2000 to shoot some follow-up footage with them. They all seemed to be in a much better place emotionally, and were still strong and articulate young women - not so much "grunge" anymore, and definitely more glamorous with their fashion, but still kick-ass."

He also said that Lauren (the girl with straight blonde hair) is now in a band called Rocket. A little Googling gave me this writeup and a series of photos of her (at least I think they're of her) by Brad Elterman.
posted by quiet coyote at 2:57 PM on March 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Re: the reaction of their slightly older peers, the filmmaker also commented:

"It's interesting, a lot of the older girls in the documentary were themselves kind of punk and/or feminist, but it was hard for them to understand and accept the dirty girls, or at least to take them seriously. After I showed the footage to the school at the end of my senior year, a number of the older girls apologized to the dirty girls, which was so awesome!"
posted by unknowncommand at 3:13 PM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


As good as it is.... I'm feeling squirrely about it being a documentary...
posted by maggieb at 4:05 PM on March 10, 2013


After I showed the footage to the school at the end of my senior year, a number of the older girls apologized to the dirty girls

Jesus, that's good to hear. The Dirty Girls in this video are so much like the young women I went to high school with who formed my first peer group, my first group of friends, that to hear them badmouthed so relentlessly was causing me a visceral response.

I mean, these were the young women I looked up to, who helped fashion my taste in music, my social life, and the way I view the world. I would hate to think they were on the receiving end of this sort of hostility. For whatever reason, though, I think my school, Minnetonka High School in the mid-90s, was a lot more accepting of idiosyncrasy than this school seemed to be.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:56 PM on March 10, 2013


I wonder then what factors in to how kids shape their identity so differently when they arguably have such similar backgrounds.

This just strikes me as such an odd question when I think back on my time in a midwestern high school. Our student body was split half black (drawn mostly from the housing projects on the near north side) and half everyone else (mostly white), and while there was an economic class spread among the latter -- from working-class union families to the children of local doctors and lawyers -- it was nowhere near as large as you'd get in Los Angeles.

And yet ... we had the sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads. The ROTC guys, preps, J.V. jocks, nerds, cool kids, varsity jocks, unfriendly hotties, girls who eat their feelings, girls who don't eat anything, desperate wannabes, burnouts, sexually active band geeks, the greatest people you will ever meet, and the plastics. (Name those movies!) All were drawn from the same fairly narrow cultural and socioeconomic background. Even when there were variations in background they tended not to map to variations in cliques, politics, or subcultures. It was pretty common that you'd have been friends with a neighbor kid back in 3rd grade and now you never talk to each other because she's a Popular and you're a Punk.

Did you find that external concepts like "Cultural Privilege" really affected the distribution of cliques in your high school? I think that no matter how similar they may all be, high school students spread out to maximize the perceived differences. Even at the Academic Gifted School, the roles of jock bully, ditz, and tough rebel were taken by kids who would have been nerd, nerd, and nerd anywhere else.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:37 PM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also: awesome video, urbanwhaleshark. There's a kind of totalizing intensity to high school activists that you don't find anywhere in later life.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:41 PM on March 10, 2013


I don't think it's a simple as that. If this was at the Crossroads School in Santa Monica that I had heard about, almost all of those kids had privilege and wealth handed to them.

Socioeconomic diversity is a major part of Crossroads School. A school I worked for in a much poorer part of Los Angeles used to liase and co-program with them, and we were very amazed by the relative diversity of that school compared to the other West LA schools. I can't remember the exact number, but a very high % of students got some form of "tuition reduction". Of course, with tuition as high as it must be at a private school in Santa Monica, that probably means that many (most?) students do come from backgrounds of privilege, but I don't think it's totally fair to characterize that particular school as "almost all" a bunch of rich kids. That said, rich kids they have in spades and a few that came volunteered with our program were shockingly unaware of poverty in their own city.
posted by cell divide at 8:43 PM on March 10, 2013


I saw that they featured tuition reduction on their website, so I take your point, and I was hoping that someone who knew the place better than me would provide details like you did. All that I knew from the two girls I knew who went there and the way they talked about it is that it was very much not your average school.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:10 PM on March 10, 2013


More information on the Crossroads School
posted by pxe2000 at 4:19 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


—Jack Black starred in an interesting little movie

Cannot process this phrase.

But fuck yeah to zine makers. Make your glue make you woozy... or printer ink, I suppose.
posted by Mezentian at 7:18 AM on March 11, 2013


Cute movie.

As interesting as it was, I would have been really impressed if it had been done at a school that was not Crossroads. Or New Roads. Or Archer. Or any of those rich folk schools in this part of west L.A.

Crossroads looms large here in Santa Monica. I live less than a mile from the school. While they do subsidize kids for the sake of diversity, there is absolutely no doubt that these are rich kid schools. Insanely rich. As rebellious as the dirty girls may have been, this was an environment where the remarks heard in the movie were likely the worst things they'd ever have to endure. And I'll bet it was, even for them, far more nurturing to their creativity than just about any school you or I went to.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:54 PM on March 11, 2013


As rebellious as the dirty girls may have been, this was an environment where the remarks heard in the movie were likely the worst things they'd ever have to endure.

One of the girls in the film was sexually molested. I am curious how much of the film you watched before deciding rich kids have no problems.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:32 PM on March 11, 2013


One of the girls in the film was sexually molested. I am curious how much of the film you watched before deciding rich kids have no problems.

I watched the whole film. I am curious if you read my comment, because I can't find where I said rich kids didn't have any problems.

Regardless, when I said "this was an environment", I meant their school. Perhaps my context was not clear, but I was referring to Crossroads. Whatever problems they may have had, Crossroads was likely the very least of them.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:45 AM on March 12, 2013


Welcome to my high school. I was a couple years older than Amber. A few of my best friends are visible in the crowd shots. FWIW, the dimestore feminist comment was made by a senior who would have read Mulvey, Cixious, and Irigiary by then (if my milieu-based assumptions about which classes she took are correct.) Not that it makes it any kinder.

Socioeconomic diversity is a major part of Crossroads School.
How do you mean? Socioeconomic diversity was important to Crossroads' founders. It was part of the mission statement. Eventually that became impracticable for various reasons and thus New Roads. Which I've heard varying opinions of.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:25 PM on March 23, 2013


« Older "From the metropolis of Miami to the small town of...   |   The Chopsticks Brothers (筷子兄弟)... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments