As Roe v. Wade crumbled, teens organized ‘Girls State’ to simulate government. (Part-2)    

Even in ‘Boys State,’ people said, ‘It’s going to be Lord of the Flies.’ You see some of that. Competition drives them to lash out. We sensed a need to connect, and ‘Girls State’ was overwhelming, McBaine adds. Murali becomes friends with her political rival after losing the Supreme Court race. Murali contemplates the pressure she and others feel to meet expectations, including their own, after her loss.  

We women cloak ourselves in this idea of who we should be. The defense mechanism is part of it, for me. Part of it is anxiousness, says Murali. This impression of being professional, knowledgeable, and serious is important to me. For me, Girls State was about determining how much was real.”  

Worthmore claims she won every election since fourth grade when she entered Girls State. Worthmore's gubernatorial campaign fails, but she rapidly gains admiration for spending time with each girl and learning their names. Speech doesn't go as planned. Later, a competitor stops her on a stairwell and continually reminds her she doesn't have to be perfect.  

“I think that’s one of the best, most humanizing moments in the story,” Worthmore says. “I needed to hear that. I know I don't need to be flawless, but you don't want to fail." In many respects, “Girls State” is about political defeat. After her loss, Worthmore decides to spend her last day at Girls State reporting on the discrepancies between the two institutions, an inspirational act of journalism since “Spotlight.”  

Worthmore's headline minimizes questions. Her piece and others' criticisms changed Missouri programs. Casual clothes was encouraged. Athletic opportunities grew. Boys and girls now share classwork. “I think the real world has both genders,” adds Worthmore. “How real is the political system if you only work with one?”  

After years of simulations while raising their two teenage daughters, the married filmmakers are more sure the American political system should mimic Girls State than the other way around. “It feels like something precious to hold on to,” Moss explains. If we want a political future that maintains democracy, it seems tragic that 17-year-old females must present it. Perhaps it makes perfect sense.”  

Murali, 18, studies engineering and philosophy at Texas A&M. She's unclear of her political future but will stay involved. The encounter altered her. “I learned how to fail,” she says. I learnt to turn after failing.”  

Murali says, “It means something not just to me but a lot of Girls State girls who saw these cameras.” It means something to know that your words are meaningful enough to be recorded. Worthmore, 19, is studying communications at Lindenwood after winning a Girls State scholarship. Freshman joins journalism society, sorority, and radio station.  

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