This issue of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, while unthemed in the sense that it comes out of an Open Call, reminds us that a foundational principle of Girlhood Studies remains one of contesting and challenging inequities. Furthermore, how girls themselves might, under some circumstances, take up critical issues in their lives is evident in these contributions. Each of the contributors has placed front and centre the idea of contesting. Recently in a publications panel at a graduate student conference, participants, eager to get their work published, wanted to know more about this journal. Two of their questions stand out. “May the articles be quantitative as well as qualitative?” and “Is it enough that at least half of my participants are girls?” This collection of articles responds beautifully to these questions in offering an affirmative to the question about quantitative and qualitive data when the point is to use appropriate evidence to contest gender norms, and a negative to being about representation in terms of simply including girls.
Doing the Fairy Tale Quest
Contesting the Author in the Video Game Jenny LeClue: Detectivú
Despite the encouragement of women's and girls’ curiosity in matriarchal and oral fairy tale traditions, their patriarchal print production in Western Europe reframed this trait as undesirable. Fairy tale print productions also troubled the tales’ transformative and communal form in establishing versions that would receive ongoing duplication by attaching prominent authorial figures. In this article, I investigate the teen girl detective game as a format that reflects upon and updates these values. Taking Mografi's Jenny LeClue: Detectivú as my case study, I interpret the text as a postmodern fairy tale revision that unsettles the master narrative and the notion of the singular authorial figure. The game encourages the player's active investigatory participation while presenting a narrative that invites collaboration and a critique of the conservative author.
Since sport extends well beyond the routine of practice and competition and leads to the development of skills that affect other areas of life, my study explored whether girl athletes experience greater voice empowerment as a result of playing sport. The term voice empowerment is unique to traditional leadership and character programming; it emerged from recent scholarship in the fields of education, sport, and psychology. In this study, 30 Ethiopian girl athletes aged 13 to 18 completed a 24-item questionnaire that focused on the constructs of sport, voice, and gender equity. My findings suggest that sport along with emotional and academic support, coupled with an effective life skills program, does affect voice empowerment.
“Honestly, Anywhere that I Have Wi-Fi”
A Posthuman Approach to Young Women's Activist Blogging
Lindsay C. Sheppard and Rebecca Raby
We add to the scholarship on young women's online activism using a Baradian framework to explore the material-discursive contexts that co-create the meanings and possibilities of their activism. Through a diffractive methodology, we delve into key moments from blogs and interviews with bloggers to discuss two emerging themes. First, we offer an understanding of activist girl blogger subjectivities as intra-actively embedded and remade in material-discursive contexts of girlhood, artist, and celebrity in a neoliberal digital culture that valorizes social media influencers. Second, we examine the related entanglements of discourses-materialities-time-space-bodies, and the human and non-human agencies that co-constitute young women's activist blogging. Overall, we illustrate the potential of a Baradian approach for understanding the human and more-than-human complexities of young women's activist blogging and activist subjectivities.
Imagining the Girl Effect
An Ethnography of Corporate Social Responsibility
Kathryn Moeller. 2018. The Gender Effect: Capitalism, Feminism, and the Corporate Politics of Development. Oakland, CA. University of California Press.
The Anthology of Chinese Fictions on Adolescent Girls’ Psychology (2016) is one of the most renowned collections of girls’ stories in Chinese children's literature. Authored by Qin Wenjun, Cheng Wei, and Chen Danyan, it is often associated with the rise of shaonǚ xiaoshuo (girls’ fiction) in China. In this article, I evaluate the collective writing practices of the women authors mentioned above, focusing, in particular, on how their featured stories address intergenerational dissent and explore models of communication between adolescent girls and women. Highlighting how The Anthology traverses the age divide in a time during which both children's literature and the lives of teenagers underwent significant shifts, I intend to further scholarly understandings of Chinese girls’ fiction as a unique literary phenomenon.
Precarious Girls and (Cruel) Optimism
Protecting Sexually Abused Teenage Girls
Rosemary R. Carlton
Using data collected as part of a larger qualitative study, I attend to the presence of two seemingly opposing narratives shaped by neoliberal and postfeminist attitudes—a gloomy one in which girls are thought to be at risk of experiencing poor life outcomes and an optimistic one that claims ubiquitous opportunity for all girls regardless of circumstance or experience. I suggest that both narratives combine to contribute to girls’ responsibilization for their future successes (and failures). I consider the potential cruelty of optimistic child protection practices grounded in a fantasy of future success as self-determined and accessible to those sexually abused teenage girls willing to work hard.
Girls, Sexuality-assemblages, and the School Ball
Popular culture and media often portray school balls and proms as romantic spaces and having a date is perceived as the norm. While gender(ed) and heterosexual discourses continue to shape young people's experiences, girls’ understandings of the school ball do not necessarily conform to dominant ideas. In this article, I draw on a new materialist ontology of sexuality to explore the relations in-between girls, dates, and the school ball. I examine ball-girl-date encounters as sexuality-assemblages comprising bodies, spatial-material arrangements, practices, and imaginings. In this frame, sexuality is conceptualized as becoming via an array of material-discursive, human, and more-than-human forces. I consider how ball-girl capacities and desires become emergent and contingent, opening up ways of thinking about girls and the school ball beyond popular cultural constructions.
When Girls Lead
Changing the Playbook for Climate Justice
Tsun-Chueh Huang and Emily Bent
Greta Thunberg's prominence in the climate justice movement symbolically positions girls at the epicenter of geopolitical resistance, but, while she is given immediate authority across media outlets, other girls’ visions of a more equitable future are often disregarded; this demands our careful attention. We discuss the work of five New York City-based girl activists of color engaged in this movement. We explore the ways in which their intersectional identities and social positions shape their mobilization strategies and draw connections to other popular social justice movements; their activist playbook reveals the transformative potential of intersectional feminist politics in the hands of Generation Z. These girl activists of color generate sophisticated, relational platforms for climate justice informed by the interconnected issues of racial and economic injustice.
While the Indigenous youth suicide crisis in Canada is widely acknowledged, there is little scholarly attention given to writers who reflect on this from the perspective of being suicide survivors. In this article, I consider the play, And She Split the Sky in Two, by Aleria McKay, a youth survivor from Six Nations. I explore how her work functions as an anti-colonial text that re-envisions the suicide crisis at Six Nations through mourning the gendered, affective, systemic, and spatial legacies of colonial violence. McKay's characters are learning to tell their own stories to completion, depathologizing experiences of despair and entrapment. This work provides a girl's perspective on the long slow process of staying alive to create a different future.