Interview of Bek Snelling by Hannah Forsdike
TRIGGER WARNING: this interview discusses sexual assault.
Hi, Bek. How are you?
How old are you?
I’m sixteen years old.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m from the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and I love sunflowers, the sky and golden retrievers. I have a good habit of embarrassing myself on the daily and I think the best feeling in the whole entire world is making people smile. I’m a Christian and I have two very plump cats who I love to bits.
What are you up to this year? Are you still in school? What kind of classes are you taking?
I am currently tackling my first year of VCE! This year I’ve been taking Health, Psychology, English, Visual Communication Design, Business Management and Religion & Society.
Is there anything you wish they’d teach you at high school?
I wish my school taught the essentials on how to live a purposeful life and not just how to exist by waking up at 6am, passing subjects and graduating. I wish my school focused more on finding yourself and your passions, learning how to love yourself the way you’re supposed to, and how to properly cope with the struggles that come with being a teenager and maintaining positive mental health.
I also wish my high school stood for feminist values. I attend a free-dress school and I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten in trouble for having my skirt a centimetre too short or even my bra-strap showing. What message is this sending to our boys? By sexualising the female body in a school environment and implying that girls need to cover up, so as not to distract boys from learning, this is only encouraging rape-culture, which makes me pretty angry and also sad.
What advice would you give girls going into the senior years of high school?
Smile more, laugh more and love more. Also, try and learn to fall in love with yourself. My advice to girls would be that life is far too short to not be the person that you want to be. Don’t let anything or anyone dictate your self-worth for you. Your mental health is way, way, way more important than your grades so please don’t push yourself too hard. At the end of the day, you should learn to be kinder to yourself and give yourself credit for the little things. Try and look for the positives in every day.
Do you have any ideas of what you’d like to do after high school?
All I know is I want to make the world a happier place. I have a very empathetic personality so I think I’d like to get qualified in youth or social work, to help those who are struggling to find their own happiness and find their own passion for life.
Do you have any creative outlets?
I have always been bursting with ideas and creativity, ever since I was a little girl. Sometimes when my brain is too loud and I can’t make sense of all my thoughts, I like to journal. Writing has always been an avenue to express myself if I have sad heart or a messy brain. I also love playing around with photography and film.
Why is feminism important to you?
Feminism is such a crucial concept in today’s society and something I value very close to my heart. I am a firm believer in justice and equality and everybody having equal opportunities to live out their life purpose. Feminism is important to me because our society needs it.
I need feminism because when I’m at a party and a stranger comes along and grabs my ass I’m told to just take it as a compliment. I need feminism because I have been the one, far too many times, who’s had to wipe the tears from my friend’s eyes, holding their shaking hands while they tell me how they said no but for some reason to the boy, that meant a yes. I need feminism because when I was sexually assaulted on the school bus, I was called a slut and told I should consider myself lucky because the boy was popular and he thought I was pretty. I need feminism because when my best friend’s boyfriend repeatedly had non-consensual sex with her, he had no idea it counted as rape because they were in a relationship and he thought he was entitled to her body. We need feminism because girls should feel nothing but safe in their own bodies and receive nothing but respect, equality and liberation, and it breaks my heart everyday to see how women and girls are treated today. Feminism is important to me because we need it.
What do you love about being a girl?
I love being a girl, especially in this day and age because I’m thankful for all the opportunities I have, compared to the rights my ancestors would have had. I’m so thankful for feminists and equal rights activists throughout history, without whom I would not have access to an education, have a promising career ahead of me or be able to properly share my opinions. I feel so empowered being a girl and I love it. I don’t think that there are any particular aspects about my gender that I love exclusively, purely because I think boys can love feminine things too. Like, I love fashion and beauty and dressing up pretty but so do boys! I love hugs and being gentle and soft, and crying while watching The Notebook, but so can boys.
What do you find difficult about being a girl?
Sometimes I feel like girl culture is just so fixated with competition, especially at my age. It almost seems like all the girls at my high school are competing against each other. Competing for the most likes on Instagram or the most expensive designer clothes or the most popular boyfriends. Even losing our virginity is seen as a race. As someone who has had to withdraw myself from a few of my social circles because I don’t share similar values, I struggle with this a lot. Also, because I hate conflict of any kind, I find the bitchiness and pettiness that unfortunately comes with teenage girl culture to be quite exhausting. You know that girl from Mean Girls who wishes ‘everyone would just bake a cake out of rainbows and smiles and would all eat it and be happy’? That girl is me.