Heather D. Switzer. 2018. When the Light Is Fire: Maasai Schoolgirls in Contemporary Kenya. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.
When the Light Is Fire: Maasai Schoolgirls in Contemporary Kenya
Tiffany Rhoades Isselhardt
Where are the girls who made history? What evidence have they left behind? Are there places and spaces that bear witness to their memory?
Girl Museum was founded in 2009 to address these questions, among many others. Established by art historian Ashley E. Remer, whose work revealed that most, if not all, museums never explicitly discuss or center girls and girlhood, Girl Museum was envisioned as a virtual space dedicated to researching, analyzing, and interpreting girl culture across time and space. Over its first ten years, we produced a wide range of art in historical and cultural exhibitions that explored conceptions of girlhood and the direct experiences of girls in the past and present. Led by an Advisory Board of scholars and entirely reliant on volunteers and donations, we grew from a small website into a complex virtual museum of exhibitions, projects, and programs that welcomes an average 50,000 visitors per year from around the world.
“Worst Thing S/He Thinks About Me” Predicts Attitudinal Risk Factors for High School Healthy Relationships Program
Jessica J. Eckstein and Erika Sabovik
Men and boys are commonly viewed as perpetrators and/or facilitators of relational violence, but this biological essentializing oversimplifies “masculinity” as “bad.” Connell illustrated the complex roles of bodies, structural order maintenance, and “pupils as agents, school as setting” (Connell 2000: 161) in shaping masculinity processes. Our study examined these factors by examining how peer perceptions of gendered identity threats relate to beliefs negatively affecting power relations. Students (N = 87; n = 36 males, 51 females) from four classes at two high schools in Connecticut provided pre- and post-test data for a Sexual Violence Prevention Program. Results show unhealthy attitudes related to peer perceptions as a basis for violence scenarios. We discuss primary-prevention curricular implications by addressing masculinities as social relationships involved in adolescents facilitating healthy relational practices.
Timothy Laurie, Catherine Driscoll, Liam Grealy, Shawna Tang, and Grace Sharkey
This critical commentary considers the significance of Connell's The Men and the Boys in the development of an affirmative feminist boys studies. In particular, the article asks: How can research on boys contribute to feminist research on childhood and youth, without either establishing a false equivalency with girls studies, or overstating the singularity of “the boy” across diverse cultural and historical contexts? Connell's four-tiered account of social relations—political, economic, emotional, and symbolic—provides an important corrective to reductionist approaches to both feminism and boyhood, and this article draws on The Men and the Boys to think through contrasting sites of identity formation around boys: online cultures of “incels” (involuntary celibates); transmasculinities and the biological diversity of the category “man”; and the social power excercised within an elite Australian boys school. The article concludes by identifying contemporary challenges emerging from the heuristic model offered in The Men and the Boys.
Intimations of a New Materialism
Raewyn Connell's work foregrounds bodies in a way that challenges the social-constructionist orientation that has dominated much of the critical research on masculinities. Yet, her concept of “body-reflexive practices” is one of the least explored aspects of her work. In this commentary, I argue that body-reflexive practices, as the concept is developed in The Men and the Boys, points in the direction of a potentially productive convergence between masculinity studies and new materialist theories. In its engagement with the nature of bodies underlying the cultural construction of gender, Connell's work maintains a relevance that has been largely unappreciated. This is especially the case for boys and young men as they develop masculinities in negotiation with their corporeal capacities.
This Special Issue of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal represents another milestone in the history of the journal, coming, as it does, out of the second international conference of the International Girls’ Studies Association (IGSA) that was hosted by Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana, in 2019. As the guest editors, Angeletta Gourdine, Mary Celeste Kearney, and Shauna Pomerantz highlight in their introduction, the conference itself and the Special Issue set in motion the type of dialogue and conversation that is crucial to challenging and changing the world of inequities and disparities experienced by girls. For a relatively new area of study that has roots in feminism and social change, critical dialogue about inclusion and exclusion and about ongoing reflexivity and questioning must surely be at the heart of girls studies. The guest editors capture this admirably when they replace the question “What is girlhood studies?” with the provocative and generative question, “What can girlhood studies be?” The articles and book reviews in this Special Issue tackle what girls studies could be in so many different ways, ranging from broadening and deepening notions of intersectionality and interdisciplinarity to ensuring a place for the article, “Where are all the Girls and Indigenous People at IGSA@ND?” co-authored by the girls who belong to the Young Indigenous Women's Utopia group. Such an account offers a meta-analysis of the field of girlhood studies, but so did the call for the Special Issue as a whole. It is commendable that this team of co-editors assembled and curated a series of articles that reveal the very essence of the problematic that girlhood studies seeks to address.
The Young Indigenous Women's Utopia Group, Cindy Moccasin, Jessica McNab, Catherine Vanner, Sarah Flicker, Jennifer Altenberg, and Kari-Dawn Wuttunee
We adopt an autoethnographic approach to share critical reflections from the Young Indigenous Women's Utopia girls’ group about our experiences attending the 2019 International Girlhood Studies Association conference at the University of Notre Dame (IGSA@ND). Moments of inspiration included sharing our work and connecting with local Indigenous youth. Challenging moments included feeling isolated and excluded since the only girls present at the conference were Indigenous people in colonial spaces. We conclude with reflection questions and recommendations to help future conference organizers and participants think through the politics and possibilities of meaningful expanded stakeholder inclusion at academic meetings.
Sharifah Aishah Osman
Rape culture is a provocative topic in Malaysia; the public discourse on it is plagued by gender stereotyping, sexism, misogyny, and rape myths. Recent literary works aimed at Malaysian adolescent girls have interrogated rape culture more pointedly as a means of addressing gender-based violence through activism and education. In this article, I discuss two short stories, “The Girl on the Mountain” and “Gamble” as retellings of Malaysian legends and feminist responses to the normalization and perpetuation of rape culture in this society. Through the emphasis on female agency, consent, and gender equality, these two stories reflect the subversive power of Malaysian young adult literature in dismantling rape culture, while affirming the significance of the folktale as an empowering tool for community engagement and feminist activism.
The Second World War in Russian History Education
This article reconstructs the historical narrative of the Second World War in Russian middle school textbooks published after the year 2000. The author shows how textbook narratives are linked with official Russian politics of history, which aim to “manage” the memory of the war and contribute toward the standardization of Russian history teaching. Additional empirical material from interviews conducted with middle school history teachers in Moscow shows how perceptions of the teaching community impinge on ways in which knowledge about the Second World War is imparted, revealing the extent to which Russian politics of history are socially ineffective.
Student Activism against Rape Culture
In this article, I report on an action project undertaken by a group of young women (aged 18 to 20) to foster public discussions about the prevalence of rape culture on their university's campus. Students proposed this action project during a book study of a young adult (YA) novel that focused on rape culture and sexual violence. Discussions during the book study resulted in the women creating a video designed for university orientation events that addressed common misconceptions about issues such as consent, relationship violence, sexual coercion, and victimhood. Using case study and narrative methods, I recount my experience of witnessing unexpected activism in my classroom. Framed within critical literacy research, I consider the outcomes of making space for student activism and I discuss implications for practitioners.