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Making It Up

Intergenerational Activism and the Ethics of Empowering Girls

Emily Bent

ABSTRACT

In this article I consider the ethical boundaries of intergenerational activism for the feminist researcher conducting research in pre-existing activist networks. Drawing on a decade of involvement with girl-activists at the United Nations, I revisit key moments that challenged me to re-think the ethical, discursive, and relational conditions of girls’ political empowerment. Intergenerational activism creates relational messiness between adults and girls since effectively partnering with girls requires disruptions of generational power with practitioner-scholars learning to make it up as they go along. This article illustrates the complex and contested ways in which girls and adults build activist partnerships in adult-centered and sometimes politically hostile settings. In exploring the environment within which North American girls experience political (dis)empowerment, I question the ethics of empowering girls under current spectacular discursive conditions.

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Narratives of Ambivalence

The Ethics of Vulnerability and Agency in Research with Girls in the Sex Trade

Alexandra Ricard-Guay and Myriam Denov

ABSTRACT

In this article, we examine the ethical realities that emerged from a qualitative study with adolescent girls on sexual exploitation. We outline and articulate the importance of moving beyond the inclusion of girls’ voices in research to discussing the ethical and practical implications of doing so. We consider the notions of power, victimization, and agency and highlight the ethical dilemma of doing research with girls in the sex trade, particularly in a context in which participants’ narratives are characterized by profound ambivalence, as seen in their frequent oscillation between narratives of victimization on the one hand, and of agency and power on the other. The nexus between girlhood studies and ethics provides us with a valuable opportunity to analyze, and thus highlight, the importance of social context in understanding these adolescent girls’ narratives and self-representations.

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On the Politics of Studying Ethics and Girlhood

Claudia Mitchell

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Sharing Images, Spoiling Meanings?

Class, Gender, and Ethics in Visual Research with Girls

Janet Fink and Helen Lomax

ABSTRACT

In our article we consider the ethical challenges engendered by participatory visual research with girls. Drawing on photographs taken by and of girls we explore how to reconcile the challenges generated by disseminating images of girls while supporting them to have a voice in research. Our concerns are focused on how to maintain the integrity of girls’ visual voices while protecting them from any harm that may result from revealing visual information about them. This issue has become increasingly germane for visual sociology since developments in digital technology and visual culture mean that images can circulate instantaneously and in perpetuity, potentially stripping them of their creators’ intentions and infusing them with new and unintended meanings. We consider different approaches to resolving our ongoing ethical dilemma and examine their potential for honoring the flesh-and-blood girl’s right to be heard amidst concerns about her digital visibility.

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Attitude or Age

Girlhood in Renaissance England

Reina Green

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Beyond the Discourse of Sexualization

An Inquiry into the Adultification of Tween Girls’ Dressing in Singapore

Bernice Loh

ABSTRACT

In order to explore the adultification of tween girls in Singapore through the way they dress, I begin this article by taking stock of the arguments in the discourse of sexualization. In further elucidating the cultural specificities of girlhood, I point out how tween girls’ fashioning of themselves after adults in Singapore presents some challenges to the ways that the adultification of tween girls’ dressing has been commonly theorized. I show that although the adultification of tween girls’ dressing forms a large part of the debate in the discourse of sexualization, tween girls’ fashioning of themselves after adults should not be assumed to be an exclusive outcome and process of improper and premature sexualization in culturally-specific contexts like Singapore. This article, therefore, explores a different way of thinking about tween girls who are dressing up in more adult-like ways, and suggests the need to be careful about extrapolating from arguments made in the (Western) discourse of sexualisation about this phenomenon.

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Breaking Boundaries in Girlhood Studies

Claudia Mitchell

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‘Hey, Can I Call You Quick?’ Navigating the Academic Swells as Young Indigenous Women

Renée Monchalin and Lisa Monchalin

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Indigenous Girls in Rural Mexico

A Success Story?

Mercedes González de la Rocha and Agustín Escobar Latapí

ABSTRACT

For as long as national records have been kept, Indigenous rural girls in Mexico have spent the least amount of time in school (aside from some people with disabilities). An innovative social program was designed in the 1990s that aimed to stop the intergenerational transmission of poverty through the provision of cash transfers (higher for girls than for boys) to families, conditional upon their children’s attendance at school and health clinics. We set out to assess whether or not the program had closed these gender and ethnicity gaps and found that it did narrow substantially pre-existing inequalities among rural indigenous poor girls and their families and, in some instances, reversed them. We recognize that the program does not eliminate other structural forces discriminating against indigenous Mexican girls and that prolonged education is an instrument for mobility only if these other forces are counterbalanced by more comprehensive social strategies.

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“Loving and Cruel, All at the Same Time”

Girlhood Identity in The Craft

Emily Chandler

ABSTRACT

The teen horror film The Craft (1996) has remained a cult classic with girl audiences for two decades. Scholarship about the film has focused on its negative representation of girls’ friendships, sexuality, and desire for power. In this article, I honor the significance of girl culture by accounting for The Craft’s appeal to girl audiences. I argue that The Craft’s relevance to girls arises from its subversion of teen film tropes. The Craft explores adolescent girls’ fear of isolation by depicting a mentally ill teenager who draws strength and happiness from the company of her friends, and becomes depressed when they oust her. By flouting the imperative for adolescent girl protagonists to be white, middle-class, mentally healthy, and normatively bodied, The Craft portrays girls’ desire for understanding over the pursuit of so-called popularity, girls’ anger arising from marginalization, and girls’ exploiting of friendship as a weapon.