Today’s post is dedicated to a hardworking, smart nine year old named Hilde. She runs her own online newspaper, Orange Street News, and reports on local stories. She’s reported on vandalism, rabid skunks, and new businesses. When she was adorably discussing upcoming Taylor Swift concerts and mini-golf sessions at the library, no one had a problem with her paper. In fact, they used words typically thrown around to describe girls and young women who do things that are a bit outside gendered expectations but are generally non-threatening—words like spunky, sassy, and feisty. As a note, every one of those adjectives has been used to describe me. This is probably why I feel for young Hilde.
So things were going ok for Hilde and her local paper until she got a lead on a story with some serious consequences—a murder in her neighborhood. She found out at the police station, where she was attempting to get a statement about a vandalism case, that officers were on the scene investigating. She followed the tip and reported the story, as any good journalist would do. That’s when people started throwing fits. They said they were disappointed in her. They said she didn’t understand decency. The former mayor called her piece sensationalist. Totally understandable since she included such inflammatory quotes as “This is an ongoing investigation,” from an officer and “They told us we can’t talk about anything,” from a neighbor.
In a not at all surprising but still disheartening move, multiple people told Hilde that she should be playing with dolls and having tea parties instead of reporting the news. Because apparently nine year old girls should not be concerned with reality or truth or bettering their communities. Obviously, any self-respecting nine year old girl just wants to play house and drink imaginary liquid.
As someone who has no memory of ever throwing a tea party and who has been told by a lot of strangers what I should be doing with my life, I say this to Hilde: Let them talk. It will keep them distracted while you’re on your way to becoming even more awesome.
But, really, she doesn’t need my advice. She’s got this covered.