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Claudia Mitchell

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.

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A “Sense of Presence”

The “me of me” in Black Girlhoods

Claudia Mitchell and Ann Smith

We begin by paying tribute to feminist Black scholar, bell hooks, who died 15 December 2021. As the numerous citations in just this issue alone bear witness, she has had a huge influence on feminist ways of thinking particularly in relation to how race, gender, and capitalism intersect. In her well-known essay, “In Our Glory” on Black girlhood and visual culture (), she offers a memory of losing a photograph of herself as a young girl in the 1950s masquerading, as she called it, in full cowgirl regalia.

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Spatializing Black Girlhood

Rap Music and Strategies of Refusal

Asilia Franklin-Phipps

Abstract

In this article, I begin by taking seriously the cultural contributions that Black women and girls make to hip-hop, thereby shifting the sociocultural and political landscape. Black girls and women do this in a variety of ways, but here I focus on how Black women rappers model and perform multiple embodied refusals that expand the possibilities for Black girls. Inspired by the cultural force of the current moment in hip-hop that is increasingly dominated by young Black women, I reflect on how Black women rappers reconstitute space through performance, music, and performances rooted in practices of refusal.

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Michael R.M. Ward

I took over as editor of BHS in January 2019. In that time, we have put out three regular issues, which have contained a large variety of work focusing on gender issues concerning boys and young men, and three special issues on more specific topics, such as boyhood and belonging and the work of one of the leading masculinities scholars of the past 30 years, Raewyn Connell. These two recent special issues (13.2 and 14.1) contained work from established and emerging scholars focusing on the twentieth anniversary of Connell's seminal text, The Men and the Boys. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they have been very well received, and articles in this collection are among the most read in the journal's history.

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“Isn't That a Girl Problem?”

Boys, Bodies, and the Discourse of Denial

Michael Kehler and Chris Borduas

Abstract

Revisions to Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculums across Canada have prompted a conservative response denouncing the explicit and robust language used to address sexualities and young bodies. In this paper, we question the (in)visibility of male bodies and a prevailing discourse of denial, while situating the discussion alongside an evolving Canadian curriculum. Drawing on a national study, we examine narratives of adolescent boys to demonstrate how they make sense of locker-room interactions and bodily negotiations among their male peers. We introduce a discourse of denial to illustrate the ways in which adolescent male bodies and body image issues specifically have been misunderstood as a “girl problem” in schools. We argue that a limiting narrative of male bodies ignores the marginalization of boys facing shaming and homophobia in schools. We conclude by calling for a (re)consideration of male bodily practices while proposing changes that would more fully acknowledge adolescent male bodies in schools.

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Claudia Mitchell

Sometimes the evolution of an open call issue of Girlhood Studies results in something of a girls studies reader unto itself. Since this issue is packed full of criss-crossing themes based on work in several countries—Canada, Iceland, India and the US—there is just no room for editorial commentary. In its inclusion of works on intersectional feminisms and feminist and Indigenous-led critique to school-based and intergenerational interventions and the power of the visual, this issue is something of such a reader.

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Black Girls Swim

Race, Gender, and Embodied Aquatic Histories

Samantha White

Abstract

During the early part of the twentieth century, Black girls in the United States attended Young Women's Christian Associations (YWCAs) where they received instruction in sports and physical activity. Using archival research, in this article I examine the role of swimming in Black girls’ sports and physical activity practices in Northern YWCAs. With a focus on the construction of Black girlhood, health, and embodiment, I trace how girls navigated spatial segregation, beauty ideals, and athleticism. I highlight the experiences of Black girl swimmers—subjects who have often been rendered invisible in the historical and contemporary sporting landscape.

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Call-and-Response

Looking Outward from/with IGSA@ND

Angeletta KM Gourdine, Mary Celeste Kearney, and Shauna Pomerantz

We are proud to introduce this special issue that was inspired by the 2019 International Girlhood Studies Association (IGSA) conference at the University of Notre Dame (IGSA@ND). At that time, we were not yet acquainted with each other beyond exchanging pleasantries and knowing of each other's academic profiles. Yet we came together as three co-editors and scholars committed not only to the diversification of girlhood studies but also to the larger project of social justice for all. We want to promote such work through this special issue and, in the process, expand perspectives and practices within the field of girlhood studies, as many before us have done.

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The Continual Relevance of The Men and the Boys, Twenty Years On

Revisiting Raewyn Connell’s Pivotal Text

Michael R.M. Ward, Kopano Ratele, Sebastián Madrid, Anna Tarrant, Victoria Cann, and Raewyn Connell

Following the launch of our first special issue in December 2020 (Cann et al. 2020) we are delighted to publish this second, linked issue. As evidence of the impact and dominance of Raewyn Connell’s ideas and their influence on the field, we received so many high-quality abstracts in response to our call for papers that we decided to create two collections. This second special issue of Boyhood Studies, An Interdisciplinary Journal, celebrates the twentieth anniversary of Raewyn Connell’s landmark text, The Men and the Boys (2000), and hosts a wide range of international and interdisciplinary authors to highlight the continued global relevance of the book and Connell’s work more widely. This issue continues this work by showcasing an impressive array of empirical research studies and reflection pieces by emerging and leading scholars that are guided by the original themes in The Men and the Boys.

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Ensuring Failure?

The Impact of Class on Girls in Swedish Secure Care

Maria A. Vogel

Abstract

Historically, the regulation of girls through institutionalization has been guided by bourgeois norms of femininity, including virtue, domesticity, and motherhood. Using a Foucauldian perspective on the production of subjects in Swedish secure care, I investigate whether or not middle-class norms of femininity, centered today around self-regulation, still guide the regulation of working-class girls. By analyzing data from an ethnographic study, I show that even though secure care is repressive, it is also permeated with the aim of producing self-regulating subjects corresponding with discourses on ideal girlhood. However, since working-class girls are rarely made intelligible within such discourses, thereby making the position of self-regulatory subject inaccessible, the care system leaves them to shoulder the responsibility for resolving a situation that is shaped by structures beyond their control.