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Femininity (Con)scripted

Female Images in Soviet Wartime Poster Propaganda, 1941–1945

Susan Corbesero

During the Second World War, legions of Soviet women behind the lines participated in war-time production in both industry and agriculture. Soviet propaganda, despite the overwhelming numbers, contributions and sacrifices of women, graphically portrayed them in ways that both re-established the pre-war patriarchal gender relations of the Stalinist era and circumscribed women’s wartime experiences. This article examines how, during the initial and la er years of the conflict, and in the important and under- studied source of Soviet poster propaganda, the symbolic configuration and recon- figuration of femininity and the female image was transmitted through shifting official policies and attitudes on the role of women. While early posters portrayed women’s wartime participation as atypical, temporary and unwomanly, propaganda by the end of the war featured hyper-feminised representations of women while the Soviet state moved to reassert political controls and institutionalise conservative gender policies to serve the needs of war and reconstruction.

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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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Deevia Bhana and Emmanuel Mayeza

In this article we focus on sixty South African primary schoolgirls’ experiences of male violence and bullying. Rejecting outmoded constructions of schoolgirls as passive, we examine how girls draw on different forms of femininity to manage and address violence at school. These femininities are non-normative in their advancing of violence to stop violence but are also imbued with culturally relevant meanings about care, forgiveness, and humanity based on the African principle of ubuntu. Moving away from the discursive production of girls’ victimhood, we show how girls construct their own agency as they actively participate in multiple forms of femininity advocating both violence and forgiveness. Given the absence of teacher and parental support for girls’ safety, we conclude with a call to address interventions contextually, from schoolgirls’ own perspectives.

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Cute Girls, Tough Boys

Performing Gender in Algerian Manga

Alexandra Gueydan-Turek

This article explores the way in which masculinity and femininity are constructed in Algerian manga, an emerging, understudied sub-genre within the field of Algerian graphic art. Through the exploration of youth-oriented publications of shōjo and shōnen manga, I will demonstrate how these new local works offer a privileged form of expression for and platform to address disaffected Algerian youths. The primary focus of this investigation will be the differences (or lack thereof) between ideals of gender performances as expressed in Algerian manga and ideals of gender identity in society at large. This article will demonstrate that, while some differences manifest a desire for change on the part of both artists and readers, they certainly do not constitute radical revisions of the popular Algerian notions of masculinity and femininity. Ultimately, this study will demonstrate the limits of manga as an imported genre within an Arab-Islamic context, oscillating between the promulgation of alternative social ideals and the reinforcement of social norms.

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Some Assembly Required

Black Barbie and the Fabrication of Nicki Minaj

Jennifer Dawn Whitney

This article explores the public persona of hip hop artist Nicki Minaj, and her appropriation of the iconic Barbie doll. Minaj's image has drawn criticism from pundits and peers alike, but, nonetheless, it has inspired a creative fan following. With reference to feminist theory and recent trends in poststructuralist thought, this article suggests the ways in which Minaj and her fans pluralize how we think about Barbie, race and idealized femininity in the West.

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Erin K. Anderson and Autumn Behringer

The Girl Scout organization has played an important role in the lives of many girls in the United States and around the world. Despite its prominence and popularity, relatively little is known about how this organization has circulated notions of gender and how it has defined the girlhood experience for its members. Taking a longitudinal approach, we performed a content analysis of Girl Scout badges and badge requirements from 1913 to 1999. Our findings indicate that over the past century the Girl Scout organization has reduced its insistence on traditional femininity, maintained its support of members participating in traditionally masculine domains, and increased its backing of a more androgynous socialization of female youth. These changes reflect the rise of a more fluid and dynamic understanding of girlhood within the Girl Scout organization.

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Lessons in Liberation

Schooling Girls in Feminism and Femininity in 1970s ABC Afterschool Specials

Kirsten Pike

Although representations of second-wave feminism in adult-oriented TV shows have received considerable scholarly attention, little has been written about feminist representations in 1970s television programs aimed at girls. To help address this gap, this article explores how ABC Afterschool Specials circulated ideas about feminism and femininity to young viewers. A close analysis of several episodes featuring tomboys demonstrates how Specials targeted girls through images of female progress and independence while simultaneously cautioning them about the dangers of women's liberation. Connecting the series' trend toward taming tomboys to the backlash against the women's and gay liberation movements, the analysis ultimately reveals textual patterns that convey both excitement and anxiety about the rising power of women and girls.

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"Every time she bends over she pulls up her thong"

Teen Girls Negotiating Discourses of Competitive, Heterosexualized Aggression

Jessica Ringrose

In this paper I explore the themes of heterosexualized competition and aggression in Avril Lavigne's music video Girlfriend (2007) as representative of the violent heterosexualized politics within which girls are incited to compete in contemporary schooling and popular culture. I argue that psycho-educational discourses attempting to explain girls' aggression and bullying fail to account for the heterosexualized, classed or racialized power dynamics of social competition that organize heteronormative femininity. Then I elaborate a psychosocial approach using psychoanalytic concepts to trace how teen girls negotiate contemporary discourses of sexual aggression and competition. Drawing on findings from a study with racially and economically marginalized girls aged thirteen to fourteen attending an innercity school in South Wales, I suggest that the girls enact regulatory, classed discourses like slut to manage performances of heterosexualized aggression. However, alongside their demonstration of the impetus toward sexual regulation of one another, I show how the girls in my study are also attempting to challenge heteronormative formations of performing sexy-aggressive. Moments of critical resistance in their narratives, when they refuse to pathologize aggressive girls as mean and/or bullies, and in their fantasies, when they reject heterosexual relationships like marriage are explored.

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Mary Jane Kehily

New femininities suggest that young women, no longer content with subordinate status in the bedroom or on the periphery of youth cultures, appear to have found their voice as the 'can do' girls of neo-liberalism. Familiar tropes of new femininities position young women as agentic, goal-oriented, pleasure seeking individuals adept at reading the new world order and finding their place within it. Has femininity finally found a skin that fits or are there cracks in this unparalleled success story? The article examines this question intergenerationally by looking at young women's experience across time, specifically, as documented by feminist scholarship from the 1960s to the present and contrasting this with the experience of being a girl as articulated by three women in the same family—grandmother, mother, daughter. Analyses of these accounts provide an insightful commentary on social change and feminine subjectivity, highlighting continuity and change while pointing to the ever present contradictions of femininity that may be reshaped and reconfigured over generations.

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Tetiana Bulakh

In this article, I analyze Koroleva Balu, hereafter referred to in English as The Queen of the Ball, a Ukrainian makeover TV show for schoolgirls that showcases girls' competition for the title of Queen during the preparation for their high school prom. A crew of professional stylists assists the participants, creating their personal styles. My focus is on an analysis of the concepts of girls' empowerment through feminine beauty and “femme-ing the normative.” I investigate how gender is constructed by the show as a performative act and how this process corresponds to post-socialist views of beauty and femininity.