The teen-targeted website gURL. com is committed to providing educational information about sexuality and sexual health to young girls. In this article, I analyze girls' conversations posted on the site to explore how girls mediate the factual information presented, and how they challenge the borders of the scientific discourse on adolescent sexuality. Without overvaluing the freedom of online environments, I assume that the relatively unregulated space of the Internet encourages young women to create their narratives about sexuality and to imagine themselves as sexual beings. My assumptions are informed by the analyses of Susan Driver (2005), Barclay Barrios (2004) and Susannah Stern (2002): in contrast to the disempowering and alienating effects of institutional policies, I call for the recognition of less regulated sites, which imagine youth not as passive recipients but as active agents who strategically work on developing their understanding of sexuality, and on exploring their sexual selves.
Sexual Self-Construction in Adolescent Internet Spaces
Reproducing heteronormative femininity on gURL.com
Jacqueline Ryan Vickery
This article examines the prominent romantic and sexual scripts—the most common being that of a "prince charming" waiting for a girl—found on the "being single" message board of gURL.com. A discourse and textual analysis of the message board is conducted in order to analyze how girls are performing their (hetero)sexual identities. This provides insight into current notions of contemporary girlhood and romantic/sexual expectations. Findings suggest that girls believe that being single is "caused" by something—most often that a girl is not pretty enough or not outgoing enough—so singledom is "blamed" on a lack of (appropriate) femininity. Also, if a girl fails at femininity then it is assumed that she might also be failing at heterosexuality. Girls seem to believe that by becoming more conventionally feminine (outgoing and attractive), singledom can be "fixed" and thus heteronormativity and femininity are reaffirmed.
Beinggirl.com and the Commodification of Puberty
Sharon R. Mazzarella
Puberty and her first period are among the most important rites of passage in a girl's life. Cashing in on this, transnational corporate giant Proctor & Gamble created the website beinggirl.com in 2000, to provide “a forum for girls to explore their collective interests and receive guidance in choosing the right feminine protection products provided by Tampax and Always at the very start of their cycles.” Featuring podcasts, polls, quizzes, an advice column, games, downloads, and a discussion board, beinggirl.com looks like many other commercially-created online spaces for girls. Employing an “experiential analysis” methodology, this article deconstructs beinggirl.com as a site that has both a corporate imperative as well as the self-proclaimed intention of providing a space for girls.
A Critical Analysis of Media Representations of Gender, Youth, and MySpace.com in International News Discourses
This article raises issues related to the gendered representation in the print media, particularly English-language newspapers, of girls who use MySpace as foolish innocents who invite sexual predation. It examines the ways in which the stereotyped representation of girls and boys promotes the hegemonic discourses that construct girlhood as a time of helplessness and lack of control, and that blame the technology itself, in this case MySpace, for a multitude of cultural problems. Ultimately, these discourses portray MySpace as a dangerous place where adolescent girls flaunt sexuality, where sexual predators lurk, and where boys commit violence, thus creating and reinforcing a moral panic and extending stereotypes about girls and boys, and about technology.
Olga Zdravomyslova and Elena Iarskaia-Smirnova
Girls born between the late 1990s and the early 2000s in the countries of the former USSR and Eastern Europe are fast entering into a particular kind of social life. In contrast to previous generations of girls born and bred under communist regimes, this post-socialist generation has access to the Internet, social networks, and global mass culture. They speak in a different voice, and they raise new issues and seek answers to them.
Events of the distant past can become the subjects of animated online debates, revealing high levels of ethnic tension between ethnic Russians and minorities. This has been the case with disputes about a recent Russian movie on Genghis Khan, for instance, which is nearing completion in Yakutia. The Internet debate forum has revealed several models of the relationship between ethnic Russians and minorities. First, there is the Eurasian model, which implies a "symbiosis" between these two groups with ethnic Russians playing the lead roles. Second, there is the Asiatic version of Eurasianism, where the Asian minorities play the roles of leaders. Third, there is the concept of Russia for Russians.
Claudia Mitchell and Jacqui Reid-Walsh
This issue of Girlhood Studies focuses on particular girlhood practices—the everyday activities in which some girls engage as part of their ordinary lives. In this issue we look at these girls engaging in these practices, sometimes on their own and sometimes in small groups, how and when they engage in them and where they do so. These include the long-standing practice of girls engaging in child care as babysitters, playing with dolls (in the case of younger girls) or reading fashion magazines (in the case of older girls). These activities take place in different locations, some of which have been associated historically with girlhood, such as a girl’s bedroom or a school classroom, and others which have been more recently appropriated by girls as congenial spaces, such as shopping malls, movie theaters and the internet.
Amy Adele Hasinoff
Sexualization might seem like a sympathetic explanation for sexting because it positions girls as innocent victims of mass culture. However, there are problematic unintended consequences with understanding sexting, the practice of sharing personal sexual content via mobile phones or the internet, in this particular way. One troubling implication is that it provides a rationale for holding girls who sext criminally responsible for producing child pornography. A second is that when girls' acceptance of sexualization is positioned as a key social problem, the solution that emerges is that girls must raise their self-esteem and gain better media literacy skills. Despite the value of such skills, a focus on girls' deficiencies can divert attention from the perpetrators of gender- and sexuality-based violence. Finally, discourses about sexualization often erase girls' capacity for choice, relying instead on normative assumptions about healthy sexuality. Interrogating the pathologization of girls' apparent conformity to sexualization and mass culture highlights the complexity of agency.
Resisting Techno-Orientalism in Understanding Kuaishou, Douyin, and Chinese A.I.
orientalizing contexts. To envision equitable futures—and to avoid reinforcing stereotypes—we need more pluralistic understandings of Chinese cultures. In this article, I consider how Chinese internet and the forms and aesthetics of contemporary artificial
Claudia Mitchell and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh
The publishing of the articles in this issue of Girlhood Studies coincides with the global events related to the First International Day of the Girl—11 October 2012. Th is is a day formally declared by the United Nations as the one set aside to articulate the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. The actual process of gaining official recognition through the United Nations for a specific day is no small feat. The efforts of organizations such as Plan International and even government bodies such as the Status of Women in Canada were key in making this happen in order to address the need for greater understanding of girl-specific issues. In the global context, for example, girls are three times more likely to be malnourished than boys. Of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70 percent are girls. In the Canadian context, as the Minister responsible for the Status of Women highlighted in an International Day of the Girl message, young women from the ages of fifteen to nineteen years experience nearly ten times the rate of date violence as do young men. Close to 70 percent of victims of internet intimidation are women or young girls, and girls and young women are nearly twice as likely as young men and boys to suffer certain mental health problems such as depression, and anxiety about body image and self-esteem remains prevalent among girls. Th us, while October 11 is a time for celebration, it is also a time for reflection and a reminder about how much work there is still to do.