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Not Just a Phase

Queer Girlhood and Coming of Age on Screen

Whitney Monaghan

In this article, I seek to interrogate the visibility of queer girls in contemporary cinema. I demonstrate how queerness has long been associated with a passing phase of adolescent development in the teen media sphere. I reflect on the nuanced relationships between queerness and girlhood in four contemporary US independent queer films, arguing that Pariah (2011), Mosquita y Mari (2012), First Girl I Loved (2016), and Princess Cyd (2017) are representative of a new wave of queer girlhood on screen. Rejecting the pervasive tropes of coming out as coming of age and just a phase, these films use queer girlhood to challenge linear models of girlhood.

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Sarah Banet-Weiser

This article analyzes an emergent genre of tween and teen girl confessional videos on YouTube where girls ask their viewers to comment on whether they are pretty or not. While the very existence of this genre is frequently explained away as a symbol of young girls' dwindling self-esteem in the contemporary moment, this article locates them within a self-identificatory gendered neoliberal brand culture so as to examine the ways in which they reproduce an economic model of the successful white middle class girl.

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Introduction

Schools, Masculinity and Boyness in the War Against Boys

Chris Haywood, Máirtín Mac an Ghaill, and Jonathan A. Allan

The re-publication of Christine Hoff Sommers’s book on the War Against Boys (2000, 2013) continues to feed into a widely circulating premise that feminist inspired pedagogical strategies are having a detrimental effect on boys’ experience of education. It resonates with a UK newspaper article whose author asked: “Why do women teachers like me treat being a boy as an illness?” (Child 2010). In the late 1990s, Sara Delamont had already highlighted how the media targeted feminists for the failure of boys, where “school and classroom regimes … favour females and feminine values; a lack of academic/scholarly male role models for boys, a bias in favour of feminism in curricula, a lack of toughness in discipline, and a rejection of competition in academic or sporting matters” (1999: 14).

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Thomas K. Hubbard

Classical Athens offers a useful comparative test‐case for essentialist assumptions about the necessary harm that emanates from sexual intimacy between adults and adolescent boys. The Athenian model does not fit victimological expectations, but instead suggests that adolescent boys could be credited with considerable powers of discretion and responsibility in sexual matters without harming their future cultural productivity. Contemporary American legislation premised on children’s incapacity to “consent” to sexual relations stems from outmoded gender constructions and ideological preoccupations of the late Victorian and Progressive Era; that it has been extended to “protection” of boys is a matter of historical accident, rather than sound social policy. Rigorous social science and historical comparanda suggest that we should consider a different “age of consent” for boys and girls.

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Young Masculinity and “The Other”

Representations of Ideal Manliness in Twentieth-Century English Boys’ Annuals

Pauline Farley

Twentieth-century English boys’ annuals often defined masculinity against notions of the “otherness” of gender, race and class. The children’s annual, which developed as a popular literary form during the Victorian period, was designed to instruct and entertain. Dominant ideologies about gender, race and class were reproduced and reinforced for an uncritical readership. High production values meant that annuals became a form of “hard copy,” re-read by several generations. In boys’ annuals, mid-Victorian styles of masculinity were reiterated during the twentieth century. In these narratives, boy heroes demonstrated superiority to various groups of “others,” thereby modelling and inscribing an increasingly old-fashioned masculinity and preserving older ideologies. Exploring a neglected area of ideological history of gender, this article shows how boys’ annuals presented readers with notions of “masculinity” defined by comparison with “the other,” who might be indigenous, feminine or lower-class.

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Girlhood in Action

Contemporary U.S. Girls’ Organizations and the Public Sphere

Jessica K. Taft

This article addresses the growing concern with youth civic engagement by asking how contemporary U.S. girls' organizations envision girls' civic identities. Recent years have seen the growth of girls' organizations that aim to involve girls in their communities. Based on extensive document research and two ethnographic case studies, my analysis distinguishes between this emergent transformative approach and a more widespread, normative model. Transformative organizations engage girls in a sociological analysis of the conditions of their lives, believe that girls should have public authority, and encourage girls' involvement in social change projects. Normative organizations rely upon a psychological understanding of girls' problems, imagine the public as a space of threat and as being full of barriers girls that must learn to overcome, and emphasize service over political action. By comparing these two approaches, this article suggests that scholars and practitioners should carefully consider the implications of organizations for girls' relationship to the public sphere.

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Judith Inggs

This article explores the development of girl characters in works for children and young adults during Perestroika. First, it examines established heroines from the Soviet era, such as Elli in Volkov's Volshebnik izumrudnogo goroda [The wizard of the emerald city], and then goes on to examine the depiction of female protagonists and characters in works written during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The conclusion is that although there was a clear demand for new heroines and a new role model for girls, writers did not succeed in providing strong, independent female characters with a sense of agency. Instead, the Soviet preference for male protagonists continued, with females often being portrayed stereotypically as weak and ineffectual.

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Hannah Mueller

The representation of adolescent same-sex love in Daniel Ribeiro’s Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho (2014) and Aluizio Abranches’s Do Começo ao Fim (2009) stands out from other treatments of adolescence and homosexuality in Brazilian/LatinAmerican cinema. The movies’ setting within an urban upper-class environment allows for a conception of adolescence as a prolonged period of carefree exploration. By intertwining the experience of adolescence with the discovery of emergent sexuality, the movies develop a model of sensual, gentle masculinity and a reciprocal concept of homosexual love, thus undermining the paradigmatic juxtaposition of active masculinity and passive femininity that has dominated cinematic representations of homosexual characters and same sex-encounters in Latin-American cinema.

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“Your Young Lesbian Sisters”

Queer Girls’ Voices in the Liberation Era

Amanda H. Littauer

Drawing on letters and essays written by teenage girls in the 1970s and early 1980s, and building on my historical research on same-sex desiring girls and girlhoods in the postwar United States, I ask how teenage girls in the 1970s and early 1980s pursued answers to questions about their feelings, practices, and identities and expressed their subjectivities as young lesbian feminists. These young writers, I argue, recognized that they benefitted from more resources and role models than did earlier generations, but they objected to what they saw as adult lesbians’ ageism, caution, and neglect. In reaching out to sympathetic straight and lesbian public figures and publications, girls found new ways to combat the persistent isolation and oppression faced by youth whose autonomy remained severely restricted by familial, educational, and legal structures.

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Gender Differences in Perceptions of School Life and Self-Concept

Considerations for Addressing Gender in Secondary School Settings

Victoria Clay

It has long been argued that gender considerations are an important factor in educational outcomes for students. The impact of social and of cultural beliefs concerning the value of education has often been implicated in gender differences in outcomes of schooling. While social constructions of masculinity warrant scrutiny both in society in general and in education, a focus on the social determinants of behaviour and attitudes does not always allow for full consideration of individual factors, such as affective or social-emotional determinants of responses to situations. This paper discusses the findings of a qualitative study of student perceptions of quality of school life and of student self-concept that was conducted in six different Australian schools. The findings of this study show that as well as gender differences, there were differences related to the school location, the socio-economic group the students belonged to, and the age of the student. These findings point towards the need to investigate gender in schools using an ecological model of gendered perceptions of school life that can take account of both individual and environmental factors.