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.
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.
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.
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.
I met Roxanne Harde, the guest editor of this Special Issue, at the Second International Girls Studies Association conference in 2019 when I attended the panel discussion, “Representations of Rape in Young Adult Fiction.” I recall Roxanne's passion vividly and, indeed, the enthusiasm of all three presenters as they discussed a variety of texts in superb presentations that aligned well with Ann Smith's notion of feminism in action in their seeing “a fictional text not only as a literary investigation into issues of concern to its author but also as the site of educational research” (2000: 245). Their papers pointed to the ways in which the analysis of how rape culture is treated in Young Adult (YA) literature, film, and the print media can take scholars and activists so much further into the issues, and, at the same time, noted the ways in which rape culture in all its manifestations as a global phenomenon has inevitably led to its becoming an everyday topic of YA fiction.
In 1983, Andrea Dworkin addressed the Midwest Men's Conference in Minneapolis. She discussed the rape culture in which we live, noted the similarities between rape and war, and, following the title of her talk, asked for a “24-hour truce in which there is no rape.” And she asked why men and boys are so slow to understand that women and girls “are human to precisely the degree and quality that [they] are” (n.p.). Every sexual assault begins with the dehumanization of the victim. And sometimes, after the violation, after the pain and the fear, comes the institutional dehumanization visited upon the victim who seeks medical or legal help. Two recent memoirs bring to the surface rape culture, evident in the young men who raped these girls and the systemic dehumanization they suffered when they sought justice. describes the aftermath of being sexually assaulted, when she was just out of college and still living at home, by someone she met at a fraternity party. Although the case against her rapist was as strong as possiblethere were eyewitnesses and physical evidence was collected immediatelyhe was sentenced to only six months in the county jail, and she was repeatedly shamed, her humanity denied by the judicial system. describes the aftermath of being sexually assaulted, when she was 15, by two boys, students at her New England boarding school, including an account of how school officials refused to do anything other than label her promiscuous and protect the boys. The ways in which she was silenced by St. Paul's, which disregarded her health and future, and denied her humanity because she was only a girl, were profound. In both cases, the promising future of the perpetrators was prioritized over the humanity of the girls by many institutions, including the judiciary and the press. Crawford was raped just seven years after Dworkin made her plea to that men's conference, but Miller was assaulted twenty-five years after, making perfectly clear that rape culture has become only more entrenched.
Steven Roberts and Karla Elliott
Raewyn Connell famously theorized hegemonic masculinity, explaining its dominance over femininity and “subordinated” and “marginalized” masculinities. Attending to representations of the latter, we argue that “men in the margin” are commonly wrongly and/or simplistically depicted as regressive and violent in response to their marginalization. Focusing on representations of working-class boys and men, we illustrate the stereotypical treatment of “men in the margin” more broadly, making clear that this goes against Connell's treatment of such men. Conversely, privileged boys and men are commonly held up by critical studies on men and masculinities scholars as paragons of progressive change. The characterization of boys and men in the margin as regressive and patriarchal impedes the ability to address problems like violence, misogyny, and homophobia and overlooks the possibilities for transformation that emerge among marginalized communities.
Claudia Mitchell and Ann Smith
As with Zika, Ebola, HIV and AIDS, and other pandemics in recent history, girls and young women are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 socially and emotionally if not medically. Some observers have referred to the current crisis as a tale of two pandemics in reference to both the obvious health issues and the pervasive gender inequalities that have become exacerbated, and others have referred to it as “the shadow pandemic” (UN Women 2020: n.p.) in highlighting the negative impact that physical distancing and social isolation are having on already vulnerable girls and young women experiencing sex- and gender-based violence. All over the world girls and young women are facing increasing levels of precariousness as a direct result of the health measures being taken to curb the global transmission of COVID-19. The increasing lack of privacy in the home furthers the practice of cultural forms of patriarchy that lead to violence.
Revisiting Raewyn Connell's Pivotal Text
Victoria Cann, Sebastián Madrid, Kopano Ratele, Anna Tarrant, Michael R.M. Ward, and Raewyn Connell
It is twenty years since the publication of Raewyn Connell's highly influential text The Men and the Boys. This book, building on feminist and pro-feminist perspectives of gender formation, was written over a ten-year period from the late 1980s to the late 1990s. It was published five years after the release of the groundbreaking text Masculinities (1995) and tackled multiple issues concerning boys and men. While providing an important platform and summary of where the research from the social science and humanities on men and masculinities stood in the year 2000, the book also contained a theoretical framework for understanding men and masculinities as part of gender relations. Importantly, the future direction of the field was outlined, and suggestions were made as to likely future agendas. These subjects included investigating the implications of globalization and its different characteristics on gender formation, the role of men's bodies, the impact of the media and culture in men's lives, sexuality, education, health, politics, change, violence, and peace. In recent years, questions about the lives and experiences of men and boys continue to raise remarkable media interest, public concern, and controversy on a global scale. Global changes in practices of knowledge have ensured that across the humanities and social sciences, research in the field of masculinities (of all ages) has continued to flourish and expand.