Hi, my name is Hannah and I’m very excited to start my internship with the Girl Museum. As you can see from the picture, I was an academic from day one – well – not really, but this picture marks my first day of ‘big’ school and what I consider the beginning of a long and confusing relationship with myself as a girl. I am originally from Newcastle, in the north east of England, but spent the majority of my university years in London. My background is in Religion and Philosophy. I have been lucky enough to attend some of the UK’s top universities and work with leading professors on pressing religious and cultural issues that interest me. I recently completed my postgraduate degree in Jewish Studies at the university of Oxford where I was able to write a thesis on an area of interest to me. My research focused on the biblical tale of Jephthah and his daughter (Judges 11), which narrates a harrowing tale of female sacrifice at the hands of a man. This narrative compelled me to delve deeper into the relationship between girls and their fathers. Through this I did difficult research on the topics of honour killings and rape of young girls which draw heavily on the sexulaisation of girls and subsequent violence towards them. Though this research was challenging at times, I am really happy that I was able to shed light on some key issues girls face everyday in parts of the world.
On a lighter note, I am someone who enjoys keeping active in ways that don’t feel like exercise. I am an avid dancer, always at the front of a Zumba class or ready to hit a Salsa club on a friday night. In the summer (when we have a few weeks of sun in the UK) I go rollerskating, a hobby that started as a means of connecting with childhood nostalgia, soon grew into somewhat of an epidemic in the UK. Practically all of my friends have a pair of wheels! Other than that I love cooking for my mum when I am back home, and taking my 3 greyhounds out for a big run in the fields behind our house. We have always been a family who rescues lots of animals, so there is never a dull moment at home between the horses and the tortoise.
As a recent university graduate, I have not had exposure to the big wide world of ‘proper’ work yet, so a dream job is a bit difficult to pin down. I would ideally like something that could combine travel, socialisation, speaking different languages, and make a difference to causes I care about. So I guess something that involves practical research for the third sector and NGOs could work. Overall, what is most important to me is having a job that actively works towards positive change in the world and aligns with my values of feminism, education, and equality.
I’ve always been a big fan of museums, this likely comes from my dad who always made sure his children had a cultural element to our family holidays. My very favorite museum, however, has to be the British Museum in central London. It boasts some really phenomenal artifacts from the Ancient Near East, which have been a huge interest of mine through my degrees. The BM also regularly puts on a variety of exhibitions, a recent standout of mine was the ‘Feminine Power: the divine to the demonic’ which as their brochure reads was ‘designed to inspire visitors to reflect on the diversity of the representation of women in world belief’. The combination of spirituality and female representation could not have been more up my alley!
As I mentioned earlier, I remember the most significant challenges to my own girlhood beginning around age 12 in school. I also tutor school children on the weekend and therefore I’ve had recent exposure to girls at school, and at times it’s like looking in a mirror. What I mean by this is that a significant issue I believe that girls face today is navigating their relationships with themselves in a school setting rife with judgment, the pressure to be ‘cool’, and feeling the need to impress male classmates. Combine this with social media, the lack of sufficient sex education in the UK cirriculem, and the Kardashian body image I think girls today are faced with an identity crisis before they have even had time to know who they are. Schools, and the social environments they generate, degrade and shame girls at one of the most vital times in their lives. I am hopeful that one day changes can be made to prevent girls from being sexualised, judged, and shamed from a young age and they can be free to be girls in a way that feels comfortable to them.
Girl Museum Inc.