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From Selfies to Sexting

Tween Girls, Intimacy, and Subjectivities

Antonio García-Gómez

Abstract

In this article I attempt to contribute to the debates on sexualization, and on tweens’ sexual agency and choice by reporting on a qualitative study of how 53 tween girls self-presented in discourse in the context of sexting (sending sexually explicit text messages and pictures to others). More specifically, the study aims to interrogate tweens’ sexual agency and the complexity of girls’ choices by analyzing their evaluative beliefs about, and motivations for, sexting. I argue that the contradictory discursive constructions of multiple femininities not only illustrate issues of regulation and resistance, but also highlight the blurred boundaries between dominant culture and agency. My findings suggest that the sexual agency implied in sexting shows the tension between the reproduction of dominant culture and hegemony and the presence of a feminine discourse of empowerment.

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Claudia Mitchell

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Melanie Kennedy and Natalie Coulter

Abstract

We reflect on the media coverage of Amy “Dolly” Everett’s death by suicide to highlight the continued spectacularization of tweenhood as an idealized form of white feminine beauty tied to consumer culture, and one that shores up contradictory notions of the can-do/at-risk girl binary. We consider contemporary tweenhood’s continuities with the visibility and concerns of girlhood from the 1990s while questioning what a definition of tweenhood in the age of digital media and beyond the boundaries of whiteness, heteronormativity, able-bodiedness, and the Global North might look like. Calling for a discursive approach to understandings and conceptualizations of tweens, we introduce the eight articles in this special issue that range from media representations of the tween to lived experiences of actual tween girls.

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Robyn Singleton, Jacqueline Carter, Tatianna Alencar, Alicia Piñeirúa-Menéndez, and Kate Winskell

Abstract

A study of 50 narratives (16 male-authored, 34 female-authored, ages 13–16) contributed to a scriptwriting competition by Mexican youth from Oaxaca State was undertaken to understand youth social representations of hegemonic masculinity. Representations of masculinity manifested within three domains: substance use, companionate or abusive relationships, and economic roles. Positively portrayed male characters maintained companionate relationships and economically provided for loved ones. Rejection of abusive rural male characters who misuse financial resources occurred via condemnatory language and tragic outcomes. The young authors highlight financial control as a key element of Mexican masculinity, but this control goes unchallenged if dependents benefit. The rejection of a macho hegemonic masculinity in favor of a companionate relationship model mirrors historic trends in Mexico regarding migration, gender, class, and modernity.

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Sarah E. Whitney

Abstract

In this article, I consider middle-grade tween literature through a Black Girl Magic framework that creates space and visibility for girls of color in postfeminist America. I read two works of fiction by middle-grade author Sherri Winston through such a lens. By locating girls’ tweenhood as a space of developmental continuity, and by claiming an aesthetic of sparkle, Black Girl Magic readings can re-situate dominant interpretations of the tween literary hero and provide exciting new methods for reading middle-grade fiction.

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Thebes Troutman as Traveling Tween

Revising the Family Story

Margaret Steffler

Abstract

Thebes Troutman in Miriam Toews’s is a quirky eleven-year-old Canadian tween. In this article I argue that Thebes’s body, skin, and movement offer a textual counterpoint to the rigidity of the story of the nuclear family as it is conventionally told. Aligning the deterritorialization of the family with that of the nation, I argue that Thebes’s marking of her body in an engagingly bizarre tween performance proclaims her separation from the conventional family road trip and story, promoting new iterations of family, home, belonging, and origins. It is Thebes as tween who, through creating a zany, sometimes disturbing, but articulate identity and culture on her own skin, raises new possibilities of the tween’s role in breaking down borders. Thebes Troutman as a twenty-first-century fictional tween carves out space for new directions and a more fluid Canadian family.

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Training Bodies, Training Minds?

Interrogating the Configured and Configuring of Masculinities in PE

Michael Kehler

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Cynthia Maurer

Abstract

Tween girls spend a significant amount of time with peers both in and out of school. Little research has examined and theorized tween friendship culture, particularly as it relates to tween media culture. Drawing on qualitative data gathered on four tween girls, three of whom I discuss in this article, I explore the role of media in friendship negotiations occurring within the home. I argue that a televisual lexicon helps girls negotiate friendship in informal settings, participating in what I term friendship work to establish their own status within the group through intimate conversations about television. As a framework, friendship work situates tweens’ engagement with media as a social tool.

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Tweens as Technofeminists

Exploring Girlhood Identity in Technology Camp

Jen England and Robert Cannella

Abstract

In this article we discuss how the Girlhood Remixed Technology Camp (GRTC) empowers tween girls to challenge sexist and misogynistic media portrayals of girlhood by constructing their own digital identities. Drawing from campers’ projects and blogs, we foreground two important outcomes of the camp: the development of technological, critical, and rhetorical literacies as girls pursued their own technology-related goals; and the crafting of powerful, positive articulations of girlhood through girls’ production of new media and technologies. We conclude with further considerations for the development of girls’ technology camps.