In this article I analyze the production of disabled girlhood on YouTube. Examining the YouTube channel of Rikki Poynter, a deaf vlogger, I show how YouTube is an affective spotlight through which exceptional disabled young women and girls are insidiously called to participate in a project of ablenationalism. I trace how Poynter’s channel, as an affective conduit of benevolence, participates in a project of ablebodied rehabilitation. Paradoxically, as Poynter is incorporated into the nation through the resignification of her corporeality as a disabled young woman, (dis)orienting affects that reverberate from her #NoMoreVoicing—A Challenge Video + Closed Captioning Campaign | ASL vlog pose the potential for a collective crip reimagining of the virtual.
Chloe Krystyna Garcia and Ayesha Vemuri
Sexual violence continues to be normalized in modern society through heterosexist jokes and problematic portrayals of female sexuality. A number of young female activists use YouTube as a technology of nonviolence to share their thoughts about rape culture and how it can be transformed. We performed a thematic analysis of 10 videos produced by young women and girls to investigate what they identify as rape culture and how they use videos to communicate their messages. We argue that they offer meaningful insight into the institutions that contribute to the normalization of sexual violence, including schools and universities, the media, and legal and political systems. We believe that stakeholders interested in dismantling rape culture can use these videos to educate themselves and others about the concerns voiced by women and girls, who are, arguably, the population most affected by sexual violence.
Online Doll Videos and the Intertextuality of Tween Girl Culture
Jessica E. Johnston
Over the last 10 years, girls on YouTube have been creating stop-motion videos with their American Girl dolls. Many of these girls began producing videos when they were tweens and have continued participating in the American Girl YouTube (AGTube) community into their late adolescence and early adulthood. In this article, I explore the intertextuality of tween girl culture as it is performed and reflected on by teen (13 to 18) and young adult (19 to 24) girls in their online doll videos. Through an examination of their AGTube channels, I show how girl producers negotiate their experiences and desires as teens and young adults within the tween culture of American Girl. I argue that AGTube functions as an audience- generated paratext of American Girl, and demonstrate how teen and young adult girls interact with and challenge the marketplace boundaries of tween girl culture in digital spaces.
Women Beauty Vloggers’ Self- Representations, Transformations, and #thepowerofmakeup
Women beauty vloggers, or video bloggers, produce YouTube self-representations as a means of considering cosmetics, their appearance, and cultural expectations about femininity. These vloggers developed “the power of makeup” videos and related social media texts in order to critique makeup shaming and attempts to limit women’s representations and aesthetic choices. Their incomplete cosmetic applications are connected to and rework reality television makeovers and feminist considerations of beauty. Feminist scholars, including Bordo and Bartky, suggest that makeovers direct women to pursue transformations into better selves and to follow beauty experts’ directions. In contrast to these forms of control, beauty vloggers have more authority over their practices. They use the term “transformation” to describe applications that are not focused on ideal looks or ever-improvable selves, and reform beauty culture around participants’ interests and artistry rather than male heterosexual expectations. These women’s practices of self-definition challenge mainstream conceptions of art, makeup, and femininity.
Grace Helbig’s Affective Aesthetics
An emerging genre across literature, screen, and digital media is beginning to articulate profound dissatisfaction with postfeminist social norms and scripts. In this article, I explore how American comedian Grace Helbig exploits and reworks classic postfeminist self-improvement genres through her parodying of the YouTube how-to video. Using Helbig’s video as an illustrative case study, my analysis demonstrates that affect theory has the capacity to make a vital contribution to current postfeminist debates. Recent research finds postfeminist analysis lacks the facility to fully comprehend the complexity of contemporary femininities, suggesting that postfeminist media studies as a genre of scholarship has reached a critical impasse. Drawing on Lauren Berlant’s (2008, 2011, 2015) work, I examine how Helbig affectively deflates popular postfeminist fantasies of fun-loving confident girlhood. More widely, I argue that affective approaches offer feminist scholars a dynamic framework to make sense of the continuing impact and legacies of postfeminist media culture.
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.
Digitalized Memories of the Rhodesian Bush War
Ane Marie Ørbø Kirkegaard
Rhodesians occupy a very specific digitalized time-space bubble at the very edges of a margin that researchers think of as “past.” In this study, I trace the memorization of the Rhodesian Bush War on YouTube, of what it was like to fight for a dream and see it crumble in an isolated and highly racialized society. Th rough narrative analysis focusing on identity formation and social networks of relationships, a militaryromantic story of racialized masculine heroism, suffering and sacrifice is pieced together, forming a globally shared Rhodesian space-time bubble of meaningfulness, making it an active part of the present as much as a remnant of the past.
Girls and Technologies of Nonviolence
From Mumbai to New York, and from Cape Town to Moscow, cell phones and other devices are becoming ubiquitous in people’s everyday lives alongside the use of various social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Despite their pervasiveness, the application of these technologies to addressing pressing global concerns such as violence toward girls and women (in universities, on the streets, in schools, and so on) is vastly under realized. Indeed, much of the work to date on mobile and social media in relation to such violence has been on its threats and harmful effects, particularly in the context of cyberbullying and other forms of online harassment (Hart and Mitchell 2015). But what are the possibilities for turning these technologies into technologies of nonviolence?
Multimodal Extension in the Works of Aleix Saló
Javier Muñoz-Basols and Marina Massaguer Comes
Numerous authors of comics and graphic novels have used the economic crisis in the Iberian Peninsula as a narrative frame for social criticism. Prominent amongst them is the Catalan cartoonist Aleix Saló, who burst onto the comics scene with his animated YouTube video Españistán, a book trailer for his graphic novel Españistán: Este país se va a la mierda [Españistán: This country is going to hell] (2011). This article shows how Saló offers a humorous and didactic portrait of the devastating effects of the economic crisis: he does this through multimodality (using specific shapes, colours, fonts and components of orality) and through creating ‘multimodal extensions’, intertextual relations between published books and book trailers. This analysis presents a case study of the multimodal techniques that authors use to shape and develop their work in the context of the powerful relationship between text and image in the digital age.
Claudia Mitchell and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh
We take the title of our editorial introduction to this themed issue of Girlhood Studies from Sandrina de Finney’s lead article in which she explores “alternative conceptualizations of trauma, place, and girlhood that might enact a more critical, politicized girlhood studies.” Contributions to this issue offer what the guest editors refer to as a re-description of girls in crisis. In so doing not only do they offer challenges to definitions of crisis, they also deepen our understanding of what transformative practices might look like. From a consideration of Indigenous girlhood in Canada to a study of country girls in Australia, from work on YouTube to Holloback! and other social media platforms to girls’ digital representations of their own safety, and from changes in newspaper discourse about murdered girls to a consideration of work done with incarcerated girls, we are invited to re-think this notion of girls-in-crisis, and its significance.