This article analyzes a series of stories and artworks that were produced in a collective biography workshop. It explores Judith Butler's concept of the heterosexual matrix combined with a Deleuzian theoretical framework. The article begins with an overview of Butler's concept of the heterosexual matrix and her theorizations on how it might be disrupted. It then suggests how a Deleuzian framework offers other tools for analyzing these ruptures at the micro level of girls' everyday interactions.
Bronwyn Davies, Marnina Gonick, Kristina Gottschall and Jo Lampert
Re-Theorising Contemporary Tomboyism in the Schizoid Space of Innocent/Heterosexualized Young Femininities
This article critically explores the seduction of contemporary tomboyism for young tweenage girls within neo-liberal postfeminist times and an increasingly commodified (hetero)sexualised girlhood culture. A central aim of the article is to contextualize the persistence of the tomboy discourse and girls' appropriation of tomboyism within competing schizoid discourses of presumed innocence and compulsory normative (hetero)sexuality. Drawing on past and current predominantly UK based ethnographic research mapping girls' relationship to tomboyism, the first half of the article considers how to theorise girls' fluid appropriation of 'being a bit tomboy' within a discursive terrain of multiple femininities and fashion feminism. The second half of the article revisits a case study of one eleven-year-old self-identified tomboy, Eric/a, to re-think conceptualisations of girls' sustained appropriation of 'tomboy' as more than some licensed mimicry of masculinity when it is taken-up as a performative politics of subverting emphasized (hetero)sexualized femininities. The article concludes with a call for future theorizations of girlhood (for example, tomboyism) that foreground the intersection of gender, sex, sexuality, age and time and their socio-cultural and contextual contingency.
Young Gay Males’ Experiences at School in Australia
This article is based on in-depth interviews with 14 young gay men aged between 18 and 25 years. Using narratives in a life-historical perspective the young men reflect upon their boyhood and adolescent years to highlight the many and varied issues confronting young gay males during this formative period. While a range of themes will be identified through use of inductive thematic analysis, it is the school environment and the process of schooling that highlights the issues associated with difference that young gay males confront while growing up. Life histories provide a unique method of understanding difference in the lives of individuals. Capturing the essence of meaning of a young gay male’s life (under the age of 18) through consensual research data is difficult due to the ethical dilemmas presented in requiring a parent or guardian to provide the right for participation. Therefore, life histories become even more important where young gay males are concerned in an attempt to understand the issues they confront while growing up gay in a heterosexualized culture.
The article is based on ethnographic fieldwork in two field sites in Oslo, Norway, that involved a sample of sixty-seven children. I discuss how ten year-old girls do gender and romance in the light of “junior” and “senior” (hetero)sexuality in the social context of romance. Considering the Norwegian media's worry concerning a presumed sexualization of childhood and the disappearance of childhood, I describe in detail what happens between partners in what is known as a going-out-with-relationship. These relationships, primarily characterized by play and not by physical intimacy, illustrate that sexual innocence in childhood still exists.
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.
Giulia Maria Cavaletto
In May 2016, the Italian Parliament passed Law No. 76/2016 titled “Regulations of Civil Unions between Persons of the Same Sex and Discipline of Cohabitation.” The law provides for same-sex marriages and also introduces rights and protections to unmarried cohabitants. It followed on from a decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which in July 2015 condemned Italy for its legislative gap with respect to homosexual unions. Civil unions have since become a new public institution that regulates the rights and obligations of all couples living together without marriage, whether homosexual or any other type of couple. The legislation contains some gray areas: it excludes the possibility of stepchild adoption by homosexual couples and does not allow the adoption of children by unmarried heterosexual couples. Nonetheless, the civil union represents a key step toward the achievement of equality by recognizing new ways of being a family.
Teen Girls Negotiating Discourses of Competitive, Heterosexualized Aggression
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.
Eva Gore-Booth, A Biographical Case Study
In 1925 Virginia Woolf described, with a hint of humor, how biography “is only at the beginning of its career; it has a long and active life before it, we may be sure—a life full of difficulty, danger, and hard work.“ 1 Recent debates suggest that one difficulty in writing a biography is deciding just what issues should be included. Sexuality may not always be of primary importance for a biographical study, but what if a subject's homosexuality is willfully ignored or vehemently denied by a biographer? Using the life of Irish poet and political activist Eva Gore-Booth as a case study, this article examines how misnaming Gore-Booth's relationship with her partner, Esther Roper, has helped to erase both women from the histories of Ireland and England.
A Study of Inclusive Masculinities among High School Cross-Country Runners
Luis Morales and Edward Caffyn-Parsons
This empirical study examines sixteen- to seventeen-year-old heterosexual male cross-country athletes from a diverse, middle-class high school in California and how they express physical tactility and emotional intimacy in a culture of diminished homohysteria. Using participative and non-participative observations of the team, coupled with ten in-depth interviews, we find acceptance of gay men, and note a range of homosocial behaviors including bed-sharing, cuddling, hand holding, hugging, and emotional intimacy. We discuss the ways in which heterosexual boundaries and identities are maintained, and the process by which normalizing heterosexuality as the assumed sexual orientation contributes to heterosexism. Despite the reproduction of heterosexism, the relationships these high school athletes form with each other are not predicated on homophobia or hypermasculinity. Finally, we discuss adolescent expressions of masculinity in the transition to manhood and in the face of diminishing homohysteria.
Queering the One Direction Fangirl
Hannah McCann and Clare Southerton
Like other fangirls, fans of former boyband One Direction (“Directioners”) have often been represented in media discourse as obsessive and hysterical, with fan behaviour interpreted as longing for heterosexual intimacy with band members. Subverting this heteronormative framing, a group of Directioners known as “Larries” have built a sub-fandom around imagining a relationship (“ship”) between two of the band members, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. Representation of the Larry fandom has gone beyond pathologizing fangirls to framing their shipping practice in terms of “fake news.” The conspiracy theory panic around Larries misses the complex ways that subtext and queer reading are mobilized within the fandom to invoke feelings of queer intimacy and belonging. Drawing on a digital ethnography conducted on Twitter with Larries, we argue that these fans engage in queer reading strategies to explicitly imagine and interrupt dominant heterosexual narratives, and thus queer the figure of the fangirl.