Fantasies of the Good Life

Responding to Rape Culture in 13 Reasons Why

in Girlhood Studies
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  • 1 Kennesaw State University, USA cgreensm@kennesaw.edu
  • 2 Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada jfroese@wlu.ca
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Abstract

Using Lauren Berlant's concept of cruel optimism, we address the ways in which rape culture, as depicted in Jay Asher's 13 Reasons Why and the first two seasons of the Netflix adaptation, shapes girls’ agency and attachment to possible futures. We take seriously the ways in which social and institutional structures in 13 Reasons Why produce girls’ livability as tied to everyday forms of sexist violence, which supposedly grant them access to what they think of as the good life. Bound up in these cruel attachments is a more limited set of options than may appear available: girls are called upon to endure daily violence in hopes of achieving this fantasy or to choose alternative paths, such as slow death or even suicide.

Contributor Notes

Cameron Greensmith (ORCID: 0000-0002-8308-9842) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work and Human Services at Kennesaw State University. His research investigates how professionals, in positions of power, can unlearn, give up, and work against domination and oppression. Email: cgreensm@kennesaw.edu.

Jocelyn Sakal Froese (ORCID: 0000-0002-8365-5680) teaches at Wilfrid Laurier University, in the Departments of English and Film Studies and Brantford Foundations. Their research looks at queer and queered representations in comics and visual media. Email: jfroese@wlu.ca.

Girlhood Studies

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