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Putting the Grail Back into Girl Power

How a Girl Saved Camelot, and why it Matters

Katherine Allocco

The Warner Brothers animated film Quest for Camelot (1998), which is set in the age of King Arthur, tells the story of Kayley, a brave, resolute, intelligent and peaceful teenage girl who rescues Camelot and is rewarded for her heroism by being made a Knight of the Round Table. The film presents viewers with a feminist hero, but does so without apology or self-congratulation. Kayley carves out a new space for girl heroes in mainstream film production in which a girl can become a hero without being weighed down by expectations of stereotyped gendered behavior and without virilizing herself by narrowly defining a hero as an aggressive warrior. She escapes the sexual pressures that complicate Buffy the Vampire Slayer's life and the submissive acceptance of the violent warrior ethic that defines Mulan. Kayley is an unusual girl hero who celebrates Girl Power as an uncommonly innocent and positive character.

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Girls, Power and Style

Social and Emotional Experiences of the Clothed Body

Emilie Zaslow

Drawing on ethnographic research with a diverse group of teen girls, this article asks how play with style is understood and enacted. By positioning girls' everyday transactions with style beside their engagement with style in media, this article demonstrates that girls live with a cultural discordance between the girl power media discourse of style as choice, power, and resistance, and the reality of their own, often disempowered, experiences with style. Bound by the promise of upward social mobility, the fear of losing status, and the risk of remaining in the low income and middle class communities in which they were raised, the girls in this study feel regulated and, at times, hurt by the required performance of the clothed body.

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Marion Doull and Christabelle Sethna

Issues related to young women, power and sex are central to feminism and remain a central source of debate. This centrality underscores the need to question what power and sex mean to young women. Research that weaves together lessons from feminism and from young women's own lived experiences can advance our understanding of young women, power and sex. This article describes how a sample of young women define, understand and conceptualize their power within their heterosexual relationships. The young women's words provide insight into how current feminist understandings of girl power may need to be reconsidered and adapted to explain young women's changing realities.

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The Origins of the Girl Hero

Shirley Temple, Child Star and Commodity

Rebecca C. Hains

Since the late 1990s, "girl power" programs featuring girl heroes have emerged as an important new trend in children's television. However, girl heroes are not as new as they seem. Producers of mass media texts created many girl heroes in the 1930s, before the adoption of television as a mainstream medium, but the scholarly literature on today's girl heroes rarely acknowledges these pre-television predecessors. To address this gap, this paper presents research on the depictions of the strong orphan girls portrayed by Shirley Temple, positioned as cultural girl heroes in the 1930s. It explores the commercial contexts in which films starring Shirley Temple were produced and offers an analytical discussion of the positive and problematic features of these stories and the product lines associated with them. By understanding the themes, commercial contexts, and controversial aspects of Shirley Temple's on-screen stories as marketplace commodities, scholars can better study the relevance and importance of the girl heroes who are so popular in today's marketplace.

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Alpha Girls and Cheerleading

Negotiating New Discourses with Old Practices

Natalie Guice Adams and Pamela J. Bettis

In Alpha Girls: Understanding the New American Girl and How She is Changing the World, psychologist Dan Kindlon (2006) claims that the new psychology of girls has produced a dramatically different kind of girl from her 1990s girl-in-crisis predecessor. He proposes that this new type of girl is a hybrid, personifying the best traits of masculinity and femininity. The Alpha Girl represents a new form of girlhood in which girls are seen as the economic, social, and cultural winners in the twenty first century because they are risk takers, competitive, and collaborative. How does cheerleading, one of the most female-identified and sexualized cultures of adolescent life, coexist with this seemingly new discourse of empowering girlhood? We argue that cheerleading provides a rich space for Girls Studies scholars to analyze how modes of femininity play out in the social practices that girls themselves deem important.

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Coming of Age with Proctor & Gamble

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.

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Critical Girls

Girl Power Revisited

Jessalynn Keller

Hains, Rebecca C. 2012. Growing Up with Girl Power: Girlhood on Screen and in Everyday Life. New York: Peter Lang.

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Hopeful, Harmless, and Heroic

Figuring the Girl Activist as Global Savior

Jessica K. Taft

. Girl Power and Girl Effects: Making the Figure of the Girl Activist Legible In the 1990s, the discourse of girl power primarily emphasized girls’ individual abilities to make themselves into empowered subjects. As girls’ studies scholar Anita Harris

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Emily Bent

ongoing challenges related to expanding girls’ political capital and influencing global policymakers while we are all laboring under neoliberal narratives of exceptional girl power. Girl activism networks today must balance promoting “girls’ agency as

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Claudia Mitchell and Jacqui Reid-Walsh

For this special issue entitled Rethinking Agency and Resistance: What Comes After Girl Power? the guest editors, Marnina Gonick, Emma Renold, Jessica Ringrose and Lisa Weems, invited a number of authors to explore the relations between girlhood on the one hand, and power, agency and resistance on the other.