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Beholding Ourselves

Black Girls as Creators, Subjects, and Witnesses

Erin M. Stephens and Jamaica Gilmer

The bus was full of excited chatter as it pulled up in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (known universally as The Met) on Fifth Avenue on a cold morning in January. Thirteen girls, along with invited loved ones, had traveled for nine-and-a-half hours from Durham, NC, to view their art displayed in the exhibit, “Pens, Lens, and Soul: The Story of The Beautiful Project” (hereafter, “Pens, Lens, and Soul”). First, the girls filed off the bus to take a photograph on the steps of The Met. As their family and friends waited to disembark, they laughed and shivered while posing for numerous photographs and videos on the cold steps. As they stood at the bottom of the steps of the grand prestigious museum, the impressiveness of their accomplishment was just beginning to dawn on many of them. As she walked around the exhibit one of the artists would comment, “I feel surprised because I didn’t realize it was this big of a thing and I was here and it’s a thing, it’s a big thing … we are capable of doing anything.”

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“Because There Are Young Women Behind Me”

Learning from the Testimonios of Young Undocumented Women Advocates

Carolina Silva

In this article, I discuss the experiences of young undocumented Latinas, aged between 19 and 22, in a university support and advocacy group for undocumented students. While recent research has investigated the advocacy of undocumented youth, there is a lack of attention on the experiences of undocumented women who advocate. To address this gap, I center the testimonios (testimonies) of five young undocumented women to examine their advocacy experiences. As a result of advocacy, the young women gained visibility as immigrant youth leaders, created a pipeline of support for other young undocumented women leaders, and faced disapproval from educators. I conclude by suggesting that schools and educators can foster the leadership of young undocumented women and acknowledge advocacy as a legitimate tool for social justice in education settings.

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Liam Wrigley

Roberts, Steven. 2018. Young Working-Class Men in Transition. London: Routledge. 240 pp. e-ISBN: 9781315441283. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315441283.

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Chalk Back

The Girl and Youth-Led Street Art Movement to #StopStreetHarassment

Natasha Harris-Harb and Sophie Sandberg

The Chalk Back movement that started in March 2016 is a rapidly growing collective of over 150 young activists from around the world. As part of a university class project, Sophie decided to collect experiences of street harassment, write them out verbatim with chalk on the streets where they occurred alongside the hashtag #stopstreetharassment, and post them on the Instagram account @catcallsofnyc. Two years later, the account gained popularity. Other catcallsof accounts opened in London, Amsterdam, Ottawa, Dhaka, Nairobi, Cairo, and Sydney. These accounts, discussed below, are just a few of those spanning 150 cities in 49 countries in 6 continents. We are two Chalk Back members—Natasha from Ottawa and Sophie from New York City—highlighting the risk, empowerment, and power dynamics of what we call chalking back by amplifying the voices of those doing this work around the world.

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Conditional Freedom

A Portrait of Young Men’s Sense of Belonging to the Street in Maputo, Mozambique

Andrea Moreira

Drawing on extensive fieldwork, this article explores how a group of young men construct their sense of belonging to a public space, namely, a market in the capital city of Mozambique, Maputo. The young men’s occupancy of the market was a clever opportunistic move. While life in and around the market provided opportunities and resources that allowed them to “get by,” the way space was lived and experienced in everyday life by these young men made them particularly exposed to punitive systems of social control. Their experience of belonging to the street was ambiguous, as the freedom they searched for became conditional and they recurrently put themselves in a situation in which they became easy targets for police harassment and incarceration in state prisons. The article shows how these young men position themselves and negotiate their masculinities in an urban environment where they are identified as a threat to the social order.

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Constructing Pathways to Responsible Manhood

Controlling Images and Meaning Making Through the Use of Counter-narratives

Mellie Torres, Alejandro E. Carrión and Roberto Martínez

Recent studies have focused on challenging deficit narratives and discourses perpetuating the criminalization of Latino men and boys. But even with this emerging literature, mainstream counter-narratives of young Latino boys and their attitudes towards manhood and masculinity stand in stark contrast to the dangerous and animalistic portrayals of Latino boys and men in the media and society. Utilizing a mixed-methods approach, the authors draw on the notion of counter-storytelling to explore how Latino boys try to reframe masculinity, manhood, and what they label as ‘responsible manhood.’ Counter-storytelling and narratives provide a platform from which to challenge the discourse, narratives, and imaginaries guiding the conceptualization of machismo. In their counter-narratives, Latino boys critiqued how they are raced, gendered, and Othered in derogatory ways.

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Michael R. M. Ward

My first year as editor of Boyhood Studies has flown by. I am really pleased with the issues we have put out since I came on board and the progress we have made in terms of the quality, rigor, and consistency of submissions. I think it is important as an interdisciplinary international journal that we continue to represent work in the field from multiple perspectives. Before I turn to outline this issue in detail, I want to briefly highlight the exciting plans we have coming up for out next two issues (13.2 and 14.1), which will both be special issues focusing on the work of one of the leading masculinities scholars of the past 30 years, Raewyn Connell.

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Claudia Mitchell

In March 2019, I had the pleasure of giving a talk at Peter Green College at the University of British Columbia that I called “The Politics and Possibilities of Girl-led and Youth-led Arts-based Activism to Address Gender Violence.” I wanted to highlight in particular the activist work of numerous groups of Indigenous girls and young women in a current project and the youth AIDS activist work of the Fire and Hope project in South Africa but I also wanted to place this work in the context of girls’ activism and youth activism more broadly. To do this I started out with a short activity called “Know your Girl Activist” during which I showed PowerPoint photos of some key girl and young women activists of the last few years, and asked the audience if they could identify them. The activists included two Nobel Prize Peace Prize winners, Malala Yousafzai (2014) and Nadia Murad (2018) along with Autumn Pelletier, the young Indigenous woman from Northern Ontario, Canada, well known for her work on water activism, and, of course, Greta Thunberg, now a household name but then, in 2019, already well known for her work on climate change activism. To my surprise only some of these activists were recognized, so, during the Q and A session, when I was asked if there is a history of girls as activists I could see that this question indicated clearly the urgent need for this special issue of Girlhood Studies which was only just in process then. Now, thanks to the dedication of the two guest editors of this special issue, Catherine Vanner and Anuradha Dugal and the wide range of superb contributors, I can point confidently to girls’ activism as a burgeoning area of study in contemporary feminism rooted in feminist history.

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Hopeful, Harmless, and Heroic

Figuring the Girl Activist as Global Savior

Jessica K. Taft

There has been a notable increase in the public visibility of girl activists in the past ten years. In this article, I analyze media narratives about several individual girl activists to highlight key components of the newly desirable figure of the girl activist. After tracing the expansion of girl power discourses from an emphasis on individual empowerment to the invocation of girls as global saviors, I argue that girls are particularly desirable figures for public consumption because the encoding of girls as symbols of hope helps to resolve public anxieties about the future, while their more radical political views are managed through girlhood’s association with harmlessness. Ultimately, the figure of the hopeful and harmless girl activist hero is simultaneously inspirational and demobilizing.

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The Inheritance of Activism

Does Social Capital Shape Women’s Lives?

Supriya Baily, Gloria Wang and Elisabeth Scotto-Lavino

In the call for proposals for this special issue, activist networks were defined as virtual or in person communities devoted to social change. The impact for girls active in these networks has been shown to promote identity development and de-marginalization/empowerment/reclamation of political spaces where girls are marginalized, intergenerational collaboration among women, and community building among feminists. In this study, we seek to explore how women at different generational points reflect on and remember their engagement in social activism. Understanding how these generational shifts affect the impact of social capital on the lives of these women and the changes we might see as they mature into leaders will provide a platform to better understand the influence of belonging to such networks during girlhood.