In this article I explore the concept of the rebellious girl by examining the cases of three different girls: an HIV activist in South Africa; a young feminist in Finland; and a topless on-line protester in post-revolution Tunisia. Although their contexts and messages vary greatly, there are marked similarities between and amongst them. I suggest that, in general, the media, political movements, and research agendas often appear to have difficulty taking girls' protests seriously. The rebellious girl is ridiculed, shunned, shamed, and disciplined. The protests explored here can, however, be read as important visual interruptions that attempt to invoke an epistemic mutiny that does not beg for inclusion on preexisting terms but, rather, challenges the boundaries of acceptable bodily integrity. They also gesture towards the social in a way that demands recognition, acceptance, and support, not a simplified acceptance based on the notion of neoliberal individual freedom.
Danai S. Mupotsa and Elina Oinas
In this themed issue we explore images that unsettle, disrupt, disqualify, and transgress the visual and affective expectations visited upon contemporary girls. The articles here suggest new ways of seeing, visualizing, and representing the girl, and of feeling and thinking about her. We begin from the recognition that girls are seduced into qualifying and passing in normative, intersecting ways that work along the various axes of sex, gender, age, corporeality, class, and race, and that we need to attend to possible disruptions of this logic. How do girls both entertain and interrupt the presumably obligatory wish to qualify? We attempt to answer this by looking at the intimate and embodied aspects of being a girl, and at the processes of estheticizing, and fetishizing the girly. We ask how the girl as subject-in-process establishes and challenges the notions of failing and passing.