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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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I’m No Princess

Super Hero Girls Together

Lucy I. Baker

DC Super Hero Girls (DCSHG) is a trans-media franchise that includes not just screen media texts but a wide array of themed merchandise aimed at a multi-generational market. I argue here that key components of the franchise present a queered version of girlhood that critiques femininity as a gender role while presenting femaleness as encompassing a variety of signifiers, acts, and presentations that can be read as queer (particularly by the so-called big girls in the audience). This is evident in the representation of queer relationships that exist in the sexualized zone of the canonical material, allowing the DCSHG characters to inhabit a liminal proto-queer space between homosocial/gender non-conforming and lesbian that is considered more appropriate for young girls. I examine the way in which the DC Super Hero Girls franchise rejects and reforms familiar elements of comics, super heroism, and princess culture to create that space for girls.

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Family Life in Tunisia after the Revolution of 2011

Two Women and Two Men in a Changing Time

Irene Maffi

Postcolonial Tunisia has gone through substantial transformations of its legal and socio-economic structures. Habib Bourguiba began the work of social and juridical engineering aimed to make the independent state a modern country, contributing to profound changes in family structures. In this article, I intend to investigate the family life of two women and two men with whom I established friendships during the fieldwork I carried out in Tunisia between 2013 and 2014. Examining the relationships of my interlocutors with their family members, I will depict an ethnographic portrait of a few Tunisian families. While they are not representative of Tunisian society, they nevertheless allow insight into a specific sector of it and help understand the effects of the revolution of 2011 on family structures.

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Crafting Alternative Femininities on the Public Stage

Women Performers of Ethnic Music in Contemporary Istanbul

Alexandra Courchesne

This article investigates the strategies women performers of ethnic music in contemporary Istanbul employ to escape the common associations of women of 'loose morals' and to craft alternative femininities on the public stage. How have women playing this music genre been able to do so while, at the same time, gaining and maintaining social respectability? Drawing on fieldwork in Istanbul, the article argues that ethnic music provides better opportunities for women to build their musical careers and to be perceived seriously for their artistic talents. Ethnic music's specific audience, locus of performance, repertoire, flexibility in dress codes and its performers' frequent associations with feminist organisations are all factors helping women to shape their own interpretation of what a woman musician in the twenty-first century could be.

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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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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.

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"i HATE HATE HATE being single" and "why is getting a bf so hard for me?"

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.

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Growing Up a Girl in a Developing Country

Challenges for the Female Body in Education

Mathabo Khau

Girls' reproductive health matters are an important factor in their equal participation in educational settings. However, many girls worldwide still face challenges to participating fully in education because of the lack of supportive structures for their health needs. This paper uses autoethnographic writing to highlight some of the challenges that girls meet in school because of menstruation. It also discusses how a teacher's lived experiences of girlhood can change how she practises her teacher-hood in relation to girls' reproductive health. I argue that teachers' lived experiences are an invaluable resource in curricula- and policy-making procedures that are formulated to better recognize the particular concerns of girls and young women.

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Veronika Honkasalo

This article examines multiculturalism and gender equality in the light of ethnicity, gender, and agency so as to illustrate how gender equality is used as a marker of Finnishness in various youth work contexts. The data presented consists of interviews with youth workers (n=42) and ethnographic fieldwork carried out from 2003 to 2005. The results illustrate that questions related to multiculturalism have enhanced the visibility of gender equality in youth work. The identification of gender-based inequality is connected, in particular, to girls from migrant backgrounds whose education and well-being are of social concern. Youth work itself is often seen as gender-neutral and equality-based. However, this illusion of gender equality reflects more the ideals of equality which are not being concretized in the practices of youth work. Equality in this context is defined as a purely quantitative concept: the solution to any possible inequalities is, therefore, that everyone should be treated in the same way.

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Annamari Vänskä

Debates about little girls' loss of innocence, and the sexualization of girls have become an integral part of media in contemporary culture. Fashion advertising representing young girls and certain types of clothes are specifically prone to generate debates about sexualization. This article looks at the sexualization argument through two sets of fashion editorials, one in a December–January 2011 issue of French Vogue, and another in the December–January 1978 issue of the same magazine. The article exposes the problem of sexualization discourse that relates images to lived experiences of girls even though fashion advertising rarely, if ever, is interested in depicting reality. Sexualization is revealed to be a value statement—the Other of innocence which is set up as the norm. Furthermore, fashion photography is shown to be intertextual; images refer to other fashion photographs. In looking at these issues this article opens up space for discussing the visual and sartorial history of the sexual girl.