This paper employs data from from a multi-year, ethnographic study of children in a diverse public preschool to destabilize some of the claims of the “boy crisis” literature (Hoff-Somers, 2000). Focusing on fine-grained analyses of events in the study context, the authors illustrate the complexity of everyday interactions between female teachers and the male and female preschoolers in their classes, as well as between the male and female preschoolers themselves. These analyses suggest that a preschool environment where all teachers are female is as patriarchally and hegemonically saturated as any other context, as both boys and girls (and teachers) are subject to, and invariably take up, powerful cultural scripts reflected in children’s and other media in the larger cultural milieu. Further, we emphasize that preschool—arguably among the most “feminized” school environments—is more complex than “boy crisis” proponents present.
Boys, Girls and the "Boy Crisis" in Preschool
Sally Campbell Galman and Christine A. Mallozzi
Racialized Girlhood, Behavioral Diagnosis, and California's Foster Care System
Isabella C. Restrepo
Scholars of the welfare system have explored the racialized criminalization of mothers of color who are punished by the foster care system, through control of their children, when they are unable to meet the ideals of middle-class motherhood but have yet to fully articulate a language to understand the ways in which this criminalization and punishment extends to youth once they are placed in the foster care system. Using ethnographic interviews with agents of the care system, I explore the ways in which the system pathologizes Latinas’ quotidian acts of resistance and survival like their use of silences through the behavioral diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). I argue that California’s foster care system is an arm of the transcarceral continuum, marking girls of color and their strategies of resistance as pathological, thereby criminalizing them through the diagnosis of behavioral disorders.
Dafna Lemish and Shiri Reznik
This study explores gender differences in the roles of humor in the lives of Israeli children. Thirty-four Jewish middle-class Israeli children, sixteen girls and eighteen boys, aged between eight to ten years, were interviewed in focus groups in which they discussed a variety of humorous video segments, jokes, and everyday humor. The analysis suggests that humor in interaction is a highly gendered process in this age group and is employed differently by boys and girls to perform their gendered identities. Girls engaged much less in sexist and aggressive humor and clearly used it to maintain their separateness from boys and younger children. We conclude that humor provides us with another avenue through which to unveil the complicated processes of gender construction in pre-adolescent childhood, while demonstrating at the same time the ambivalence and complexity involved in these processes.
Hobbledehoydom in Anthony Trollope's "Ayala's Angel"
Using Anthony Trollope’s character Tom Tringle ofAyala’s Angel, I argue that in his portrayal of the hobbledehoy, Trollope is imposing on Victorian boys and young men a code of behavior every bit as restrictive and every bit as unnatural as the “suffer and be still” doctrine imposed on girls and young women. Using critical tools from the fields of Masculinity Studies and studies of literary character, I discuss Trollope’s portrayal of Tom Tringle as emblematic of the restrictions Victorian gender ideology placed on women. What emerges is a new dimension to Victorian gender studies. The admonition addressed to Victorian women of all ages and classes that they should “suffer and be still” in the face of any adversity is well known, and is often accompanied by the assumption that no similar restriction is placed on boys and men. In the world of Anthony Trollope’s novels, however, unlike that of many other Victorian novelists, women seldom need much taming, as obedience is a strong character trait in the majority of his heroines. His young men, on the other hand, tend to be far less morally evolved, and in Trollope’s love plots, if anyone has to undergo profound changes of character before being fit for marriage, it is usually the man. I argue that Trollope’s stern but gentle treatment of the misfit Tom provides further answers to the often debated question of Trollopes relative conservatism.
Michael Atkinson and Michael Kehler
There has been a dramatic rise in public, and particularly the media, attention directed at concerns regarding childhood obesity, and body shape/contents/images more broadly. Yet amidst the torrential call for increased attention on so-called “body epidemics” amongst youth in Canada and elsewhere, links between youth masculinities and bodily health (or simply, appearance) are largely unquestioned. Whilst there is a well-established literature on the relationship between, for example, body image and marginalized femininities, qualitative studies regarding boys and their body images (and how they are influenced within school settings) remain few and far between. In this paper, we offer insight into the dangerous and unsettled spaces of high school locker-rooms and other “gym zones” as contexts in which particular boys face ritual (and indeed, systematic) bullying and humiliation because their bodies (and their male selves) simply do not “measure up.” We draw on education, masculinities, health, and the sociology of bodies literature to examine how masculinity is policed by boys within gym settings as part of formal/informal institutional regimes of biopedagogy. Here, Foucault’s (1967) notion of heterotopia is drawn heavily upon in order to contextualize physical education class as a negotiated and resisted liminal zone for young boys on the fringes of accepted masculinities in school spaces.
Jacqueline Reid-Walsh and Kirstin Bratt
Perhaps it is more obvious in the present day, surrounded as we are by cell phones and other electronic devices transmitting information and messages in images and words instantaneously, but for over a hundred years the lives of girls—middle class girls in particular—have been mediated to a large extent by the plethora of texts that surround them. These texts are largely fictional narratives in different formats such as novels, magazines, television shows and films, many of which appear as digital media. Some of these texts are composed by adults, often women, and are directed at girl readers and viewers in an effort to establish a direct or indirect pedagogical relationship with them. Then again, depending often on how fantasy and desire is constructed in the narrative, other texts have no apparent pedagogical function, serving instead as sites (some adult-sanctioned and some not) of escape from reality. Other texts are created by the girls themselves and are directed at members of their own age group either as texts of peer education or of entertainment.
S. E. Duff. 2015. Changing Childhoods in the Cape Colony: Dutch Reformed Church Evangelicalism and Colonial Childhoods, 1860–1895. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
In Changing Childhoods in the Cape Colony: Dutch Reformed Church Evangelicalism and Colonial Childhoods, 1860–1895 (hereafter Changing Childhoods), S. E. Duff explores shifting notions of childhood and, more specifically, the emergence of new ideas about white childhood in the Cape Colony, South Africa, during the late nineteenth century by examining various efforts to convert and educate children, especially poor white children, and improve their welfare. As indicated in the title, Changing Childhoods draws attention to the multiplicity of experiences of children who existed alongside each other in the Cape Colony and how they were shaped by a variety of factors, including religion, location, class, race, and gender. While many histories of childhood elide the experiences of boys and girls, Duff pays careful attention to the different constructions of girlhood and boyhood and how gender shaped the lives of boys and girls, men and women. Throughout the book, girls appear not as passive observers but as complex agents shaping and participating in broader social, political, cultural, and economic transformations in the Cape.
Young Men Find “The Real” in “Unreal” Media
This article explores stories told by five young men, ages 17-19, about how they conceptualize “reality” through their electronic media choices. In studies on young people and the media, there is a rich and popular conservative tradition of seeing those deemed “deviant” as deeply and negatively influenced by the media. These individuals are assumed to have a fragile conscience that will permit them to be attracted to and act out socially unacceptable behaviors seen in the media. Deviance is understood in terms of social location, including race, gender, social class, and educational attainment. This essay challenges that tradition by asking how these boys understand and make meaning from their media choices. I draw directly from their stories told by youth of color from the inner-city South Bronx, New York. How do they articulate their viewing/listening positions and make meaning of “reality” when it is often people like them who are depicted as criminals and perpetuators of socially unacceptable behaviors in the media? Instead of seeking out or reacting against violent media, they choose and “make meaning” from media that help them conceptualize family, friendship, community, and career choice.
What Comes After Girl Power?
Marnina Gonick, Emma Renold, Jessica Ringrose, and Lisa Weems
With the current proliferation of images and narratives of girls and girlhood in popular culture, many ‘truths’ about girls circulate with certainty. Amongst the aims of this Special Issue is to examine critically these ‘confi dent characterizations’ (Trinh 1989), to trace the social conditions which produce these ‘truths’ along with the public fascination with girls and to analyze critically the eff ects of these ‘truths’ in the lives of young girls. Th e concepts of resistance and agency have been critical to the field of youth studies, sociology of education and school ethnographies (Hall and Jeff erson 1976; McRobbie 1978; Willis 1978) for conceptualizing the relationships between young people and their social worlds. Ground breaking scholarship by McRobbie (2000) challenges the gendered assumptions of political agency articulated in previous theories of subcultures developed in the 1970s and 80s. While feminist poststructuralist work in the 1990s has re-conceptualized agency in ways that are markedly diff erent to humanist notions of rational actors with free-will (Butler 2006; Davies 2000), feminist researchers have also shown the importance of a classed, raced and sexed analysis of agency. For example, scholarship by feminists of color have shown how girls of color challenge and defy dominant stereotypes of girlhood in culturally specifi c ways such as participating in spokenword contests, rap and hip hop, and ‘beauty contests’ (Hernandez and Rehman 2002; Gaunt 2006). In the changing social, economic, political and globalizing context of the new millennium, where ‘girl power’ has become a marketing tool and a branding (Klein 2000) of girlhood, it is important to look anew at the relations between girlhood, power, agency and resistance.
Roberts, Steven. 2018. Young Working-Class Men in Transition. London: Routledge. 240 pp. e-ISBN: 9781315441283. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315441283 . British academia's loss is clearly Australia's gain, in Steven Roberts's pathbreaking