In 2016 two nonfiction titles exploring girls and sexuality and presentations of
the sexual self received extensive media attention, thus shaping a construction of
girl in popular media. In this article I examine how Nancy Jo Sales’s American
Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers and Peggy Orenstein’s Girls and
Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape construct girls as sexual subjects
and desired objects. In a close reading of the texts I consider how the authors constitute
girl and the ways in which girls navigate society’s expectations and constructions
of them as sexual subjects. I use the words of girls themselves to examine
the dissonance between authorial constructions and the post-feminist culture that
emerges in the texts on the one hand, and the girls’ language on the other.
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