"Every time she bends over she pulls up her thong":Teen Girls Negotiating Discourses of Competitive, Heterosexualized Aggression : Girlhood Studies Berghahn Journals
Girlhood Studies

Girlhood Studies

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Editor-in-Chief: Claudia Mitchell, McGill University


Volume 9 / 2016, 3 issues per volume (spring, summer, winter)

Subjects: Gender Studies, Education, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology, Media Studies


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Winner of the 2009 AAP/PSP Prose Award for Best New Journal in the Social Sciences & Humanities!

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"Every time she bends over she pulls up her thong":Teen Girls Negotiating Discourses of Competitive, Heterosexualized Aggression

Jessica Ringrose

Keywords: POPULAR CULTURE; PSYCHOSOCIAL; SUBJECTIVITY; DISCURSIVE POSITIONINGS; RESISTANCE; FEMININITY; CLASS

Abstract

In this paper I explore the themes of heterosexualized competition and aggression in Avril Lavigne's music video Girlfriend (2007) as representative of the violent heterosexualized politics within which girls are incited to compete in contemporary schooling and popular culture. I argue that psycho-educational discourses attempting to explain girls' aggression and bullying fail to account for the heterosexualized, classed or racialized power dynamics of social competition that organize heteronormative femininity. Then I elaborate a psychosocial approach using psychoanalytic concepts to trace how teen girls negotiate contemporary discourses of sexual aggression and competition. Drawing on findings from a study with racially and economically marginalized girls aged thirteen to fourteen attending an innercity school in South Wales, I suggest that the girls enact regulatory, classed discourses like slut to manage performances of heterosexualized aggression. However, alongside their demonstration of the impetus toward sexual regulation of one another, I show how the girls in my study are also attempting to challenge heteronormative formations of performing sexy-aggressive. Moments of critical resistance in their narratives, when they refuse to pathologize aggressive girls as mean and/or bullies, and in their fantasies, when they reject heterosexual relationships like marriage are explored.

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