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We speak to the teen feminists of the year

Dazed asks Jazz Jennings, Mars and other powerful women of the future what they learnt over the past twelve months and want for 2016

Tavi Gevinson was right when she recently warned of clickbait feminism in the media.

“As feminism becomes more integrated into mainstream publications and conversation, I feel weary of an obsession of celebrity culture masquerading as activism or as conversation or action,” she explained in an interview with Vanity Fair. “It’s clickbait. I think it’s foolish to interview someone who’s just promoting a movie that they’re in and ask if they consider themselves a feminist. That’s not about feminism, that’s about the journalist wanting to gauge how much this person is aware of the world, or is aware of the feminist movement.”

That’s the nature of widespread feminism in a post-mainstream world. Feminism starts to become all about celebrities identifying with the label or repeatedly being asked about it. That’s not to say 2015 hasn’t been a phenomenal year for the movement in terms of diversifying, empowering and becoming enraged while striving for inclusivity. But that isn’t down to celebs. It has a lot to do with the teen generation of politically minded women, like Jazz Jennings or the girls behind the Art Hoe collective, who are more genuinely shaping and driving grassroots feminism. At the close of the year, we speak to some of the most important teen feminists, asking them about their year, dreams, goals, what they’ve learnt and what they hope for in the future:


The fifteen-year-old spent this year setting up a huge new art movement: Art Hoe. The movement is specifically (though not exclusively) made by POC artists for POC. Not many women, let alone teens, speak so confidently about identity, gender and cultural appropriation – and with the help of the Art Hoe army, Mars is looking to change that.

What has feminism meant to you this year?

Mars: It’s safe to say that my feminism was rather tedious prior to this year. In order for feminism to be progressive the conversation has to be inclusive. Modern mainstream feminism is comprised of people exerting their privilege only to complain more about their privilege. Feminism to me is defined by sharing your platform and acknowledging your privilege over people. Feminism to me is using your privilege to raise discussion on brushed-off topics. Feminism is not only some grey-scaled perception of “Man vs Woman” but the many perspectives that follow the said division. 

What do you think your personal turning points were this year?

Mars: The formation of the Art Hoe collective and the many things that followed after that. The collective for me has definitely been a learning experience in terms of inclusion and politics. A personal turning point for me would be realising my maturity and growth at such a young age. The youth are definitely expanding in terms of knowledge and action. It’s satisfying to know that my voice and platform leaves a strong impact on people twice my age.

“Dragging culture” is now eminent. I encountered many problems regarding my politics and platform in the past which I am still improving on. It’s imperative for people to know that there is always room for growth and "dragging" someone for something they allegedly said a year ago is gross as hell. I learned to differentiate between constructive criticism and well needed calls outs (which I can say I'm thankful for) and people just deciding to arbitrarily drag an anxiety ridden fifteen-year-old.


Fifteen-year-old Jazz Jennings became one the youngest trans women in history to publicly speak about trans issues. She received national attention when she appeared on Barbara Walters’ show 20/20 and then started her series of YouTube videos about her life called “I am Jazz”, which became a TV show this year on TLC.

What do you want for feminism in 2016?

Jazz Jennings: “For 2016, I’d like to see equality for all. We shouldn’t be defined by our body parts; after all, we are all human beings. Gender is a spectrum and I feel that the feminist movement should stand united to promote acceptance and inclusion for all.”


Girls Against are five teenage girls who describe themselves as “just some intersectional feminists standing up to groping at gigs”. They started their group after seventeen-year-old Hannah Camilleri was harassed at a Peace gig. She and her friends set up a Twitter account to raise awareness of the issue, and quickly thousands of followers started pouring in, sharing similar experiences. 

What do your collective goals for 2016?

Bea: Our goals for Girls Against differ from those we think are achievable short term. Obviously short term, we aim for the movement to provide a secure basis for victims to speak out, and not to be afraid of telling their story. On a larger scale, we hope that more venues and security companies will get involved to help us tackle the actual issue of the sexual harassment or assault itself that goes on at gigs. Hopefully by 2016, we will have set up a secure procedure to remove any person who arrives at these gigs with the intention to grope or sexually harass others, but also have some sort of universal signal that victims can use to warn people around them that it is happening. Summer 2016 would be a great time to spread our campaign out to festival attendees too, but we are aware this is a big step.


#IDESERVEFREEDOMOFEXPRESSION was the hashtag created by 13-year-old Sophie Thomas to protest her school’s decision to photoshop out the word FEMINIST from her homemade t-shirt in a school picture, after the term was deemed “offensive”. The teen and her mother took to social media and confronted the school, and, after first labelling the reaction out of proportion, the school’s headmistress will now be working alongside the teenager to give pupils lessons on feminism.

What do you think your personal turning points were this year?

Sophie Thomas: About a month after we had the pictures taken, they were handed out. Immediately I noticed that they photoshopped my shirt out. I waited until the bell had rung to walk down to the office. I brought it up with my principal and she said the photographer called her and brought it to her attention and she made the decision to black it out because some people might find it “offensive”.

Later that day, my friends and I posted it on Twitter and Instagram and it began getting a lot of attention. Within two days I had Fox News (yikes), The Today Show, Buzzfeed, MTV Style, and many others trying to get ahold of me. I couldn’t have been more thankful for my story getting out. But my school wasn’t too happy about it. The name of my school had been leaked and people were filling up my principal’s voicemail and her email with complaints. My principal had genuinely apologised, but the real problem was my with superintendent. He had been telling so many different lies to the media. One of my favorites: “You pinko-liberal tree-hugging communist media are making something out of nothing”. It’s going to be my senior quote. 

So I’ve learned that nothing is more important than standing up for what you believe in.


Sage Adams is curator at @arthoecollective, a space for online artists of colour. The eighteen-year-old is currently in college and spearheading a revolution, along with Mars, where intersectional feminism manifests itself online.

What has feminism meant to you this year?

Sage Adams: I see feminism in almost everything I do whether that just be getting dressed in the morning, or sorting through submissions for the Art Hoe collective. It has become second nature to think not only from a feminist perspective but also from an intersectional perspective. This allows me to not only see injustice but also solutions. In that way feminism to me now means radical solution-based thinking. This year means heeding the words of the women before us and manifesting it in the digital era, content creating. 

What do you want from the movement in 2016?

Sage Adams: I want to see the feminist movement move towards more complex conversation in terms of inclusion of marginalised people. I want to see more artists of colour gaining recognition for their own radical work, and I want to see more content from those who haven’t found a voice this year. 


Seventeen-year-old trans teen Lila Perry wanted to use the girl’s toilet and locker room at school. But more than a hundred students walked out of class at Hillsboro High School in St. Louis protesting against this idea, along with outraged parents. Perry has been subjected to transphobia both at school and online but has come out the other side a symbol of bravery for the hundreds of other trans students at schools across the US, possibly facing similar problems.

What has feminism meant to you this year?

Lila Perry: Feminism to me has meant fighting against sexism and gender stereotypes so that we can all have a more equal opportunity in this country. Of course, feminism has also meant that we have to acknowledge that men can be the victims of women in crimes such as domestic violence and assault. A big part of feminism to me is to hold women accountable the same way we hold men accountable. 

What do you think your personal turning point was this year? 

Lila Perry: A huge turning point for me was when I came out as trans and began transitioning in February earlier this year. Since coming out, I have learned more about the discrimination against trans people and women in general. I've learned that life is neither fair nor safe for those that aren't in the majority. Another important thing I've learned is that ignorance and hatred can lead people to do horrible things. The kids in the protest were all holding up signs with terrible things on them, all directed towards me.

What do you want to see next year?

Lila Perry: In 2016, I want to see more acknowledgement of the transphobia and sexism we have integrated in our society. I want to see people stop beating around the bush and to look at the cold hard truth. If possible, I’d love to break the taboo even more on discussing trans issues and for the word “feminist” to stop having such negative connotations.


Fifteen-year-old Rookie contributer, Mithsuca Berry aka Foxyfries is a genderfluid queer black teen who has drawn attention for her original, bold illustrations. 

What were the most important things you learnt this year as a feminist?

Mithsuca Berry: I personally learned that although I always want to educate and kick the asses of anyone who didn’t support equality like a empowering warrior, I couldn’t. There are some times when I felt almost exhausted, because of how much misogyny, sexism, racism, homophobia I was being exposed to one after another. I almost felt mad at myself when an attempt to educate a closed-minded person wouldn’t work. I spent time scolding myself for not being the warrior I could be. It took time for me to realise you may not have changed that person’s mind but be proud of yourself for fighting for what you believe in. It’s like I forgot that feminism is not a one person project, it’s a movement! I am a piece of a bigger picture, my efforts are important and help regardless of their outcome. 

What do you want from the movement in 2016?

Mithsuca Berry: I want people to be able to understand fully what empathy is, for people to feel. Because that’s people lack. And I want media outlets as well as heads of media to recognise the power of their words and how much it manipulates perceptions and people’s beliefs. Being queer, black, and a person who somewhat identifies as a woman, empathy is always something I appreciate.