The Girl in the GIF

Reading the Self into Girlfriendship

in Girlhood Studies
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  • 1 University of Newcastle akane.kanai@gmail.com

ABSTRACT

In this article, I explore the practice of reading as a form of social participation in girlhood in digital spaces. Positioning girlhood as the circulation of particular discourses and affects, I consider a set of six self-representative blogs authored by young women on the microblogging platform Tumblr, and the affective and discursive positions they invite through their address to readers. Adapted from a central blog named WhatShouldWeCallMe, these blogs use GIFs (looping, animated images) and captions to articulate feelings and reactions relating to everyday situations that readers, addressed as girlfriends, are expected to recognize and relate to as common experience. I suggest that readers’ aesthetic and social participation in the circulation of these texts is key to the formation of digital publics in which readers come to recognize themselves as girls through calls to common feeling.

Reading Girlhood in Digital Spaces

I approach the question of how individuals recognize themselves in discourses of girlhood by foregrounding the interaction between readers and texts. Focusing on the production of identity in digital spaces, I suggest that participating in digital girlhood can be interrogated, not only by examining girls’ blogging, chatting, and profile construction, but by considering the discursive circulation of girlhood via texts and the reading they invite. I examine these dynamics through a set of blogs hosted on the platform, Tumblr, authored by young women and comprised of a highly popular original blog named WhatShouldWeCallMe (WSWCM), together with five spinoff blogs that do their own adapted versions of the founder. Following the terminology of Limor Shifman (2014), these will be referred to respectively as the founder blog and follower blogs. I show how the blogs, their circulation, and readership form a digital public premised on knowledges of the discourses and affects of youthful femininity. As such, reading is positioned in this analysis as not simply a process of reception, but a creative, affective (Wetherell 2012) and social act.

In the public based on WSWCM and its follower blogs, each blog expresses self-representative experience through a reaction-GIF format: in each post, a GIF, an image capturing about three seconds of movement from diverse media material ranging from television and film to internet videos, is combined with a caption describing an emotive reaction to a situation. Reading and relating to the experiences in these highly affective posts draws on a gendered social imaginary structuring the way in which commonality and connection with other girl participants in the public may be felt. Drawing on the work of Louise Rosenblatt (1978, 1995) and Michael Warner (2002), I propose the term spectatorial girlfriendship to explain how the self is positioned in the imaginary of the public amongst other, unknown girlfriends, through the process of reading. Thus, rather than drawing a line between discourses of girlhood and actual girls, in this article I aim to theorize the mechanisms through which the self is actively implicated within such discourses via participation in online texts.

Understanding Digital Girlhoods

To begin this discussion, I will address the question of why I am discussing girlhood when it has been made clear that the blogs are authored by young women. When I use the term girlhood, I refer to a discourse that does not necessarily correspond to a biological development of youthful bodies (Projansky 2007) but, rather, encompasses a set of cultural, gendered constraints, regulatory requirements, and incitements girling certain bodies of varying ages. Such cultures, in the West, are often described as postfeminist (Gill 2007; Projansky 2007), requiring both the performance of feminine capacity and empowerment but under narrow, intertwined conditions of beauty, heterosexuality, and neoliberal success in education and employment (McRobbie 2009).

Much contemporary work on digital girlhood has focused on how girls, through digital spaces, negotiate such postfeminist regulatory requirements. Notably, Angela McRobbie (2009) argues that the postfeminist sexual contract requires active participation in the public sphere, but such participation must be marked by a girlish non-threatening demeanor. Accordingly, scholars have shown that blogging and social network activity, in particular, are mechanisms through which girls negotiate or manage normative standards of appearance, popularity, and sexuality (Brandes and Levin 2013; Dean and Laidler 2013; Elm 2009; Holmes 2016; Marwick 2015; Mazzarella 2008; Shade 2008; Stokes 2010; Vickery 2010). This girls’ studies scholarship explores the possibilities of digital media in helping to transcend those restrictions on femininity that aim to render girls docile and passive (see, for example, Keller 2015). Other discussions have focused explicitly on girls’ online negotiations of sexual double standards. Jessica Ringrose’s work (2010) illustrates how girls’ use of digital media on social networks corresponds to the negotiation of postfeminist discourses of sexuality in which girls must appear confident, sexually attractive, and knowledgeable, yet are still confronted by gendered double standards that limit their capacity to act of their own accord. Similarly, Amy Dobson’s research (2011) demonstrates central preoccupations with what she terms heterosexiness in the production of young women’s profiles on MySpace.

Dobson’s and Ringrose’s research suggests how girls’ self-production in digital spaces is regulated by postfeminist discourses that instate certain parameters of legibility and recognizability as girls. Banet-Weiser’s work on girls’ YouTube videos shows how girls shape themselves into “detached saleable images” (2011: 285) within similar postfeminist parameters, amenable to digital viewing, audience engagement, and circulation. Relatedly, I suggest that these discursive regulatory cultures and their negotiation inflect knowledges of how to do girlhood in digital spaces in ways that invite a felt sense of commonality with unknown audiences (Kanai 2017). As such, certain discourses and associated affects such as the connection between confidence and slim, conventionally heterosexy bodies (Dobson 2011), shape the terms on which certain girlhood experiences may be considered intelligible or common. As I explore here, these intertwined affects and discourses have an important part to play in the social imaginary invoked by these blogs that readers are assumed to share, presented as knowledges that can catalyze a sense of belonging and social recognition. Given that these blog posts convey feelings associated with particular situations that readers are expected to recognize and decode, here I adopt Margaret Wetherell’s (2012) affective-discursive approach in understanding affect as a loose, socially-based form of emotion that cannot be productively disentangled from discursive context.

Responding to Sonia Livingstone’s (2008) call to revive the text-reader approach in research on digital culture, I operationalize reading as a central way through which bodies may attach to affective and discursive circulations of girlhood in the formation of digital publics, rather than furthering the well-researched terrain of girls’ negotiation of gendered standards via blogging and online profile construction. While the importance of reading for girls has certainly been explored in offline contexts (Singer 2015; Willis 2009), reading as a primary form of participation in digital girlhood requires further scholarly attention. This focus on reading is important given the way that many social media platforms reconfigure reading as an active, curatorial practice, not simply that of receiving information but a central way of engaging and participating in the sociality of a platform. Reading is integral to social media actions such as liking, sharing, retweeting, or, in the case of Tumblr, reblogging. Somewhat similar to the sharing function on Facebook, reblogging is a function on Tumblr that re-circulates blog posts authored by another user, while simultaneously pinning that blog post to one’s own blog; approximately 95 percent of all posts on Tumblr at any given time are reblogged posts (Strle 2013). Accordingly, reblogging is a central, active means through which readers can acknowledge posts with which they feel connections, and through which attachments to social identities such as girlhood may be articulated.

Spectatorial Girfriendship: Connecting Discourses, Texts, and Publics

To introduce the idea of reading the self into affective-discursive circulations of girlhood it is important to understand how the blogs, as the central texts I discuss, are premised on a particular form of address to readers. Begun in 2012, the popular anonymous founder blog, WSWCM, was created by two young women, who saw themselves as best friends, in law schools on opposite coasts of the United States, as a means of keeping in touch with each other (Casserly 2012). However, the blog soon became more than a simple means of dyadic correspondence. Drawing up to 1.5 million views per day shortly after its inception (Duncan 2012), WSWCM also inspired the creation of dozens of follower blogs by other anonymous young women, adapting its format to articulate their own experiences. The posts in these blogs follow a similar structure to the founder blog; they combine a GIF with a caption to express experiences associated with youthful femininity. These feelings and situations often pertain to the difficulty of meeting standards of beauty, (hetero)sexuality, and pressures to succeed, echoing McRobbie’s observations of the pressures on what she terms “top girls” (2009:56). Examples range from the shame associated with weight gain, dejection with the difficulties of university, or the contempt felt when espying a rival girl flirting with one’s ex-boyfriend featured below. All these types of moments are expressed, like Figure 1, in the present tense, and as a generic, potentially recurring moment, with little other contextual detail.

Figure 1
Figure 1

Ex-boyfriend problems

Citation: Girlhood Studies 10, 3; 10.3167/ghs.2017.100314

Viewed online, this post shows a looping movement, with the young woman centrally featured in the GIF straightening up, focusing her gaze on the young woman whose back we see, as the words “bitch mode activated” flash repeatedly. The post articulates feelings of frustration and contempt boiling to the surface in relation to an undeserving sexual rival. Certain girl knowledges and dispositions based on discourses of girlhood are assumed: first, beauty or being hot, as stated above, is translated automatically as a normative feminine trait, following the postfeminist emphasis on personal appearance (McRobbie 2009). Accordingly, the figure of the less hot girl is an easy target; she is less deserving of the opportunity to flirt with the ex. The ex is a significant figure here, summoning affects of possessiveness as a reaction structured by a monogamous and heterosexist world, in which a girl’s “erotic capital” (Winch 2013: 21) depends on the attachment of a boyfriend. Evidently, the stern young woman who is straightening up stands in for the author of this blog post. Yet, she also stands in for a number of indefinite others: in the moment of reading, the post invites the reader to imagine the self amongst other likeminded girls who channel their pain from their experience with their ex onto the new girl who seeks the ex’s attention. The reader is offered the opportunity to belong by imagining the self amongst other girlfriends who may admit or share such ugly feelings in confidence.

Recognition of being situated amongst a group of likeminded others is enacted through this blog post on a number of levels. The anonymous nature of the post and the highly general way such feelings are described structure the feeling as a common one felt by girls, and as such, is amenable to being shared in digital forms of circulation. In some ways, posts like this may be read as an inside joke between the two best friends who had begun the founder blog. Yet, as noted above, others read their way into the joke. The popularity of this funny blog spoke to a shared imaginary of a sizeable (feminine) audience, attracting media coverage by Forbes (Casserly 2012) as part of its Forbes Woman section, and Allure (O’Neill 2012), an American women’s magazine, amongst others, for its ability to connect to a “collective popular subconscious of young women” (Casserly 2012: n.p.).

I reframe this “collective popular subconscious” (Casserly 2012: n.p.) as a public, following Warner, who argues that a public is a social space and set of relations that come into being through the circulation of discourse addressed to strangers or “indefinite others” (2002: 59). Strangers are vital for the formation of publics: indeed, “a nation, market, or public in which everyone could be known personally would be no nation, market, or public at all” (57). Hosted on Tumblr, a platform that operates on norms of anonymity and where the majority of content is publicly available (Cho 2011), these blogs operate on the basis that the experiences and feelings articulated in the posts are shared by strangers, rather than known acquaintances. A digital public is formed here, on the basis of the attention of numerous young women, unknown to each other, who stumbled across this set of digital texts, and through which they were addressed as participants—indeed, as subjects in girlhood discourses. Notably, a public is made up not simply of its physical participants, but the social imaginary that they bring to the texts: it is both “notional” and “empirical” (Warner 2002: 53). The social imaginary readers bring to the texts constructs a shared world through the texts, and at a second level, conceives of the strangers, the other readers that inhabit this world, as having a similar shared disposition towards the world outside the public. This public is formed on the basis of reading the self into a common social imaginary shared with strangers, a social imaginary that draws on a constellation of discourses and affects of girlhood articulated through the founder and follower blogs and circulated through their liking, reblogging, and adaptation on Tumblr.

I use the term spectatorial girlfriendship to describe the operation of the social imaginary at play here in the circulation of the blogs that invites the reader to understand forms of girlhood as representative of both the blogger and reader as girlfriends who have certain experiences and knowledges in common. This readerly invitation is a key mechanism through which the self is placed in a common position with others in the discourses of girlhood that underpin the blog posts. The notion of spectatorial girlfriendship draws on Amy Dobson’s notion of relational premise (2010), as well as Alison Winch’s (2013) concept of girlfriendship. Relational premise, like Nancy Thumim’s (2012) articulation of genre, is a way of conceptualizing the expectations that structure the ways in which individuals participate in mediated worlds like social media; girlfriendship speaks to assumptions of the commonality of young women based on and in their attachments to a normative girlness. This commonality as girlfriends does not necessarily connote friendship but an assumption of common knowledges and reference points within parameters of normative femininity including a shared understanding of affects linked to girlhood discourses, such as the rivalry and contempt for the figure of the less hot girl mentioned above. Spectatorial girlfriendship, then, cannot be understood within oppositions of artifice and reality: it is a relation to others offering particular forms of belonging, structured through a social imaginary underpinned by discourses of girlhood.

What becomes evident is that being able to read the above blog post does not rely on a simple decoding of the words and the movement of the central girl. Rather, it shows how reading this post draws on and recreates an imaginative re-living of a social moment through spectatorial girlfriendship. The reader understands that what is articulated is a feeling experienced by someone else, while also recognising that this feeling is intended as a description of a generic experience of girlhood that encompasses the reader. For example, in the above post and in others like it, articulating the rivalry when a girl is flirting with one’s ex, the post’s open address purports to document self-representative experience that also coincides with general experience. The post operationalizes an open-ended social imaginary speaking to an audience as girls; the brief, openly worded caption is expected to invoke girlfriend norms of heterosexual rivalry, contempt for the other girl mentioned in the post, as well as possessiveness of the erotic capital represented by the ex. Given the lack of context and detail in the post, such feelings of judgment towards this other girl are expected to be commonsensical—the standard reaction that the reader is assumed to understand, and to which the reader is expected to relate. In this address to girlfriends, the text mobilizes the implicit assumption that other, unknown girls are competitors rather than colleagues, in line with notions of feminine governmentality discussed by McRobbie (2009) and by Winch (2013). Through spectatorial girlfriendship, the physical reader is positioned in relation to other unknown readers, together with the author of the text, where all can be imagined as possessing a commonality as girls or girlfriends, addressed and regulated by girlhood discourses.

This call to spectatorial girlfriendship may be observed in the way in which the texts are keyed, partnering a sense of authorial self-representation with a textual openness that invites the reader to reflect upon the commonality of their own experience. The general way the posts are penned invites an active self-referentiality on the part of the reader. The reader’s skills of interpreting and organizing meaning in the discourses that circulate in the texts are made central in parsing and attributing a meaningful structure of common girlfriendship to the process of engaging with these digital texts.

Reading the Self into Girlfriendship

I suggest that the practice of reading should be seen as the primary means through which the “empirical” participant in the public, and the “notional” (Warner 2002: 53) social imaginary of of the public are bridged, using the reader’s literacy, knowledge, and experiences to enter into a relationship of spectatorial girlfriendship. According to Jessica Laureltree Willis (2009), reading is an affective practice that produces a (real) social imaginary of possibilities for girls, and, I suggest, in addition, a practice that configures a relational identity, positioning the self as part of a broader public. Further, reading ought to be understood as the process through which concrete audiences not only engage with knowledges of girlhood circulating in this public, but also produce them. Reading might be seen as the final act, the receiving end of the public address of discourse. However, I use reading as a way of thinking through the connection between the circulation of these digital texts, the formation of the public, and participation in girlhood discourses.

In making this argument, I draw on Rosenblatt’s (1978, 1995) theory of the textual transaction, which, misleadingly, has little to do with exchange and more to do with a commingling of both reader and text in the production of meaning. Developed when she was an educator, Rosenblatt’s work in reader response remains significant in its impact on scholarship of literature, pedagogy, and education (Karolides 1991; Pantaleo 2013) as well as in creating intersections with the study of New Literacies (Hammer 2007; Sanders 2012). If we draw on Rosenblatt’s germinal text, The Reader, the Text, the Poem (1978) the act of reading can be understood simultaneously as a mode of social membership and thus an active part of the public-making here, rather than an activity that constructs readers, authors, and texts as separate things.

Rosenblatt observes that the reader’s relationship to a text is summed up in the common phrasing, “The reader finds meaning in the text” (1978: 14). However, she contends that this suggests an overly linear relation. Reading, rather, is a “situation, an event at a particular time and place in which each element conditions the other” (16), which Rosenblatt calls “the transaction” (17). It is the reader’s organization and animation of the text, otherwise symbols and lines on a page that constitute the act of reading, that becomes an act of simultaneous creation and fusion. The reader, in response to a set of cues, marshals her or his repertoire of knowledge and experience in constructing the text. The text itself is thus not separable from the reader as Rosenblatt illustrates through quoting from the poem, “The House was Quiet and the World was Calm” (1954) by Wallace Stevens.

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page.

For Rosenblatt, the reader, thus fully absorbed and evoking the world of the book, enters into a “coming-together, a co-penetration, of a reader and a text” (1978: 12).

Not each transaction requires this intense absorption, evidently. Although the reader must always call upon her or his imaginary in order for the reading to occur, the experience may be quite different depending on the form of transaction. Rosenblatt proposes two ends of a spectrum on which an act of reading might be located. The first is a non-aesthetic or efferent reading that focuses on the residue that remains following reading. Thus, efferent reading focuses on the information that one remembers from the reading and the actions to be carried out. This is the form of transaction in which summarizing a text is possible; one summarizes, in order to be able to instrumentalize the text. The residue of the text becomes more important than the experience of reading itself. However, in what Rosenblatt terms aesthetic reading at the other end of the transactional spectrum, what happens during the reading event is privileged: the “associations, feelings, attitudes and ideas that these words and referents arouse” (25). Rosenblatt calls this form of transaction “the poem” (12).

Drawing on these insights, the social imaginary of this public may be understood as being built through such transactional poems in the many GIF-based moments in which text and reader become productively entangled. Based on the structure of readers’ encounters with these digital texts, I argue that these transactions involve aesthetic reading through which this girlhood-based public comes into being. The GIF, in its looping action, is particularly conducive to this form of experiential reading, requiring the making of the text during the few seconds it takes for the GIF’s movement to be completed. The GIF invites the reader to immerse the self in the moment of the post, to waste time, to spend time consuming a humorous, generic moment that invites the sense of belonging in that moment as the reader waits for the GIF’s looping movement to finish in order to get the joke contained in the post. As James Ash (2015) and Alexander Cho (2015) argue, the repetitive structure of the GIF can work to amplify the intensity of affect, enhancing the feelings of immersion and resonance that users experience with Tumblr. Jason Eppink notes that in contemporary visual culture, the author of the GIF is de-emphasized and is, rather, shared as part of a “cinema of affiliation” (2014: 1) with imagined others.

Rosenblatt’s idea of the transactional poem produces a sense of the complex experiential work that goes into constructing meaning. Aesthetic reading, which focuses on the experience of reading rather than using the reading residue for a purpose, encapsulates the form of social reading that grounds this public. The reader is playfully invited to fill in the gaps of the “mesh” (Rosenblatt 1978: 76) of the text by squaring the incongruous, bright, moving GIF and the situational-but-generic caption, being rewarded with getting the joke and a consequent sense of relating to the moment. Indeed, it is the sociality of reading these posts, rather than an instructive purpose, that stands as the primary reason for engaging with these texts. The act of reading these texts requires personal involvement. In an interview with a follower blogger, who had adapted the founder blog format for her own blog, I discussed the pleasures of reading reaction-GIF posts and the difficulty in explaining them to others. The blogger, Amelia, concurred with me. She said: “You cannot explain posts to people; you just have to show them the post.”1

As Rosenblatt observes, one cannot summarize the reading of a poem. With these affective GIF-based texts, readers must engage personally in the visual transactional moment themselves; it is ineffectively explained or paraphrased by someone else. The GIF, together with the caption, constitutes the aesthetic poem, the momentary puzzle that the reader must interpret, experience, and (re)make.

In the public I discuss here, the reader, in transacting with the GIF and caption, engages in an act of stranger sociability that Warner (2002) describes. The reader recognizes or deciphers the post while understanding that many indefinite others who are part of this public also participate in recognizing themselves in the affects and discourses of girlhood. While each post describes a moment that its author may have experienced, its sparse, open, and generic description invites the unknown reader to fill the self personally into a common situation through spectatorial girlfriendship into an imaginary that is both personal and social. Here, reading, as a social practice, produces the self as part of a larger public tethered to a common position in affects and discourses of femininity. Consider the post below: “When I’m shoveling food in my face and someone cute walks by.”

Figure 2
Figure 2

Struggling to act cool

Citation: Girlhood Studies 10, 3; 10.3167/ghs.2017.100314

Although the experience of the post is ostensibly the author’s own, it has been pared down, and details that might otherwise overly personalize the experience have been removed. The main figure in the post, as stated above, is “someone cute,” rather than a named, specific participant in the author’s life. It is a call to spectatorial girlfriendship through its non-specific articulation of the experience of routinely meeting expectations of grace and girlish demeanour, particularly in heterosexualized interactions, an area of life that is heavily surveilled and regulated for girls. Though the GIF technically depicts a situation that might prima facie appear somewhat removed from the situation articulated in the caption, it is the imaginary brought by the reader that does the work of synthesis, transforming the GIF and caption into a social moment. When viewing the repetitive movement of the GIF online, the reader is able to see the squirrel, representing the author, suddenly dropping the nut being held to its mouth, but the image, in and of itself, is far from straightforwardly representative of the scenario. The reader must square the act of the animal with her own experience and knowledge of norms of gendered conduct implied in this potentially romantic scenario to bring to life the author’s (and reader’s) awe at the attractiveness of the person passing, resulting in the dropping of the food. The reader must draw on personal and social knowledge and imagination to transform the squirrel’s actions into the far from elegant demeanor catalyzed by a love interest’s arrival en scène. Drawing on shared codes of feminine poise and postfeminist sexual discernment made normative in top girl discourses (McRobbie 2009), the post pokes fun at girls’ occasional inability to act cool in the heat of such an encounter.

Engaging in this process projects a social world and, in a double movement, asks readers to project themselves into it, as girlfriends, amongst similar, indefinite others, through the address of the text. I note, however, that simply because these texts are addressed to indefinite others who may see themselves in this general situation, it is not necessarily an inclusive public, available for all to enter. Rather, the possibility of entering into spectatorial girlfriendship depends on both the textual invitation and what is imaginable from the reader’s social location (Kanai 2016). The requirement of commonality in order to belong in this public provides a sense of connection. However, it also secures that connection to sameness of experience, necessarily producing insiders and outsiders based on the reader’s own location in relation to the discourses of femininity that circulate in the blogs. And indeed, assumptions of sameness and universality may be derived from a perspective linked to dominant classed and raced social locations (Kanai 2017).

The public, despite its open address, is thus never simply out there waiting for any participant to gain entry; it is a product of working with and recreating existing social worlds and positions in discourses of girlhood. This poetic worldmaking is why, according to Warner (2002), publics should not be understood as simply based on rational-critical discourse where entry is prima facie transparent and the terms of entry are equally available. The apparent openness of the call in the text, found as it is online and accessible without any privacy restrictions, obscures the way in which the text itself forms a gatekeeping transaction. A public’s boundaries are maintained through the borders of the social imaginary it depends on. Thus, in this public, feelings of commonality cannot be considered as simply co-terminous with feminist solidarity. Accessing this public is not a simple matter of clicking a link or finding the actual page on Tumblr; it is a matter of a personal reading of the self into the spectatorial girlfriendship catalyzed through the circulation of these digital texts.

Conclusion: Feeling Like the Girl in the Text

In arguing for aesthetic reading as an active way of being in the world, Rosenblatt claims that the aesthetic transaction between reader and text is a “poem… an event in time” created through the “coming-together” (1978: 12) of reader and text. As readers, while we generate this poem, we produce feelings, attitudes, and ideas that shape who we are. Thus, in thinking through reading as an active process through which ideas are not simply relayed but co-produced, Rosenblatt’s work is key to understanding how the girl in the text cannot be neatly separated from the social world, nor the reader from the text. The spectatorial girlfriendship here is experienced through texts. At the same time, it shapes and is shaped by lived girlhood experience, providing a scaffolding through which attachments, loyalties, and commonalities with others may be felt. Indeed, through the entanglement of readers and texts, digital cultures of circulation create collectivities—imagined and concrete publics based on girlhood’s associated affects and discourses. Rosenblatt’s transactional theory suggests how patterns of interpretation and imagination come to matter.

In this article, I have positioned reading as a means of participating in girlhood in digital space, and spectatorial girlfriendship as a mechanism through which the self may be positioned in a common social imaginary with other, unknown girls. The narrow frames of experience articulated through texts require readerly cooperation to be legible. Neither simply representation nor construction, spectatorial girlfriendship enables those who are already addressed by girlhood discourses and affects to imagine the self, through the process of reading, in connection with others. Thus, reading, even the type of reading that tends to be erased by terms such as scrolling or browsing in digital spaces, has been foregrounded in this account as a means of participating in girlhood as an affective and discursive circulation. In the case of the humorous, digital texts I have explored, the invitation to spectatorial girlfriendship, for some readers, enables pleasures of recognizing and producing the self within a shared social imaginary, one girl amongst others.

Acknowledgments

My thanks go to the bloggers who permitted me to reproduce their posts. I would also like to thank the Faculty of Arts at Monash University for their generous support during my PhD candidature, and my supervisors, Professor JaneMaree Maher and Dr Amy Dobson, without whom this work could not have been accomplished.

Note
1

Personal communication, 28 April 2014.

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  • Kanai, Akane. 2017. “Girlfriendship and Sameness: Affective Belonging in a Digital Intimate Public.” Journal of Gender Studies, 26 (3): 293306. doi:10.1080/09589236.2017.1281108.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Keller, Jessalynn Marie. 2015. “Girl Power’s Last Chance? Tavi Gevinson, Feminism, and Popular Media Culture.” Continuum 29 (2): 274285. doi:10.1080/10304312.2015.1022947.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Livingstone, Sonia. 2008. “Engaging With Media—A Matter of Literacy?Communication, Culture & Critique 1 (1): 5162. doi:10.1111/j.1753-9137.2007.00006.x.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marwick, Alice E. 2015. “Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy.” Public Culture 27 (75): 137160. doi:10.1215/08992363-2798379.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mazzarella, Sharon. 2008. “Introduction: It’s a Girl Wide Web.” In Girl Wide Web: Girls, the Internet and the Negotiation of Identity, ed. Sharon Mazzarella, 112. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McRobbie, Angela. 2009. The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture and Social Change. London: Sage.

  • Pantaleo, Sylvia. 2013. “Revisiting Rosenblatt’s Aesthetic Response through The Arrival.” Australian Journal of Language and Literacy 36: 125134.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Projansky, Sarah. 2007. “Mass Magazine Cover Girls: Some Reflections on Postfeminist Girls and Postfeminism’s Daughters.” In Interrogating Postfeminism: Gender and the Politics of Popular Culture, ed. Yvonne Tasker and Diane Negra, 4072. Durham: Duke University Press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ringrose, Jessica. 2010. “Sluts, Whores, Fat Slags and Playboy Bunnies: Teen Girls’ Negotiation of ‘Sexy’ on Social Networking Sites and at School.” In Girls and Education 3–16: Continuing Concerns, New Agendas, ed. Carolyn Jackson, Emma Carrie, and Emma Renold, 170182. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rosenblatt, Louise M. 1978. The Reader, the Text, the Poem. London: Southern Illinois University Press.

  • Rosenblatt, Louise M. 1995. Literature as Exploration. New York: The Modern Language Association of America.

  • Sanders, April. 2012. “Rosenblatt’s Presence in the New Literacies Research.” Talking Points 24 (1): 26.

  • Shade, Leslie Regan. 2008. “Internet Social Networking in Young Women’s Everyday Lives: Some Insights from Focus Groups.” Our Schools, Our Selves: 6573.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shifman, Limor. 2014. Memes in Digital Culture. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

  • Singer, Amy. 2015. “Little Girls on the Prairie and the Possibility of Subversive Reading.” Girlhood Studies 8 (2): 420. doi:10.3167/ghs.2015.080202.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stokes, Carla E. 2010. “‘Get on My Level’: How Black American Adolescent Girls Construct, Identify and Negotiate Sexuality on the Internet.” In Girl Wide Web 2.0: Revisiting Girls, the Internet and the Negotiation of Identity, ed. Sharon Mazzarella, 4567. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Strle, Danielle. 2013. “In Conversation with Danielle Strle of Tumblr.” Social Data Week, 20 September. http://library.fora.tv/2013/09/20/In_Conversation_with_Danielle_Strle_of_Tumblr (accessed 12 November 2013).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Thumim, Nancy. 2012. Self-Representation and Digital Culture. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Vickery, Jacqueline Ryan. 2010. “Blogrings as Virtual Communities for Adolescent Girls.” In Girl Wide Web 2.0: Revisiting Girls, the Internet and the Negotiation of Identity, ed. Sharon Mazzarella, 183200. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Warner, Michael. 2002. “Publics and Counterpublics.” Public Culture 14 (1): 4990. doi:10.1215/08992363-14-1-49.

  • Wetherell, Margaret. 2012. Affect and Emotion: A New Social Science Understanding. London: Sage.

  • Willis, Jessica Laureltree. 2009. “Girls Reconstructing Gender: Agency, Hybridity and Transformations of ‘Femininity’.” Girlhood Studies 2 (2): 96118. doi:10.3167/ghs.2009.020207.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Winch, Alison. 2013. Girlfriends and Postfeminist Sisterhood. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

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Contributor Notes

Akane Kanai is an early career scholar and lecturer at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Aspects of her PhD research that focus on shifting youthful femininities and digital culture have been published in Social Media + Society, the Journal of Gender Studies, Celebrity Studies, and Feminist Media Studies. She is currently researching the relations between postfeminism, feminism, and affect across digital and media culture more broadly. E-mail: akane.kanai@gmail.com

Girlhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal

  • Ash, James. 2015. “Sensation, Networks and the GIF: Toward an Allotropic Account of Affect.” In Networked Affect, ed. Ken Hillis, Susanna Paasonen and Michael Petit, 119133. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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  • Banet-Weiser, Sarah. 2011. “Branding the Post-Feminist Self: Girls’ Video Production and YouTube.” In Mediated Girlhoods: New Explorations of Girls’ Media Culture, ed. Mary Celeste Kearney, 277294. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
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  • Brandes, Sigal Barak, and David Levin. 2013. “‘Like My Status’.” Feminist Media Studies 14 (5): 743758. doi:10.1080/14680777.2013.833533.

    • Crossref
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  • Casserly, Meghan. 2012. “#WhatShouldWeCallMe Revealed: The 24-Year Old Law Students Behind the New Tumblr Darling.” Forbes, 29 March. http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2012/03/29/whatshouldwecallme-revealed-24-year-old-law-students-tumblr-darling/ (accessed 24 March 2013).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cho, Alexander. 2011. “Queer Tumblrs, Networked Counterpublics.” Paper presented at the 61st Annual International Communication Association Conference, Boston, 26–30 May.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cho, Alexander. 2015. “Queer Reverb: Tumblr, Affect, Time.” In Networked Affect, ed. Ken Hillis, Susanna Paasonen and Michael Petit, 4358. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dean, Marissa, and Karen Laidler. 2013. “A New Girl in Town: Exploring Girlhood Identities through Facebook.” First Monday 18 (2). http://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4230 (accessed 5 September 2015).

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    • Export Citation
  • Dobson, Amy Shields. 2010. “Bitches, Bunnies and BFFs (Best Friends Forever): A Feminist Analysis of Young Women’s Performance of Contemporary Popular Femininities on MySpace.” PhD diss., Monash University.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dobson, Amy Shields. 2011. “Hetero-sexy Representation by Young Women on MySpace: The Politics of Performing an ‘Objectified’ Self.” Outskirts: Feminisms Along the Edge 25. http://www.outskirts.arts.uwa.edu.au/volumes/volume-25/amy-shields-dobson (accessed 12 March 2013).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Duncan, Fiona. 2012. “Across the Tumblrverse: The Creators of ‘WhatShouldWeCallMe’ Speak.” http://bullettmedia.com/article/across-the-tumblrverse-the-creators-of-what-should-we-call-me-speak/ (accessed 28 January 2014).

    • Export Citation
  • Elm, Malin Sveningsson. 2009. “Exploring and Negotiating Femininity: Young Women’s Creation of Style in a Swedish Internet Community.” Young 17 (3): 241264. doi:10.1177/110330880901700302.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eppink, Jason. 2014. “A Brief History of the GIF (so far).” Journal of Visual Culture 13 (3): 298306. doi:10.1177/1470412914553365.

  • Gill, Rosalind. 2007. Gender and the Media. Cambridge: Polity Press.

  • Hammer, Jessica. (2007) “Agency and Authority in Role-playing ‘Texts’.” In A New Literacies Sampler, ed.. Michelle Knobel and Colin Lankshear, 6794. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Holmes, Su. 2016. “‘My Anorexia Story’: Girls Constructing Narratives of Identity on YouTube.” Cultural Studies 31 (1): 123. doi:10.1080/09502386.2016.1138978.

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    • Export Citation
  • Karolides, Nicholas J. 1991. Reader Response in the Classroom: Evoking and Interpreting Meaning in Literature. New York: Longman.

  • Kanai, Akane. 2016. “Sociality and Classification: Reading Gender, Race and Class in a Humorous Meme.” Social Media + Society 2 (4): 112. doi:10.1177/2056305116672884.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kanai, Akane. 2017. “Girlfriendship and Sameness: Affective Belonging in a Digital Intimate Public.” Journal of Gender Studies, 26 (3): 293306. doi:10.1080/09589236.2017.1281108.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Keller, Jessalynn Marie. 2015. “Girl Power’s Last Chance? Tavi Gevinson, Feminism, and Popular Media Culture.” Continuum 29 (2): 274285. doi:10.1080/10304312.2015.1022947.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Livingstone, Sonia. 2008. “Engaging With Media—A Matter of Literacy?Communication, Culture & Critique 1 (1): 5162. doi:10.1111/j.1753-9137.2007.00006.x.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marwick, Alice E. 2015. “Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy.” Public Culture 27 (75): 137160. doi:10.1215/08992363-2798379.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mazzarella, Sharon. 2008. “Introduction: It’s a Girl Wide Web.” In Girl Wide Web: Girls, the Internet and the Negotiation of Identity, ed. Sharon Mazzarella, 112. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McRobbie, Angela. 2009. The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture and Social Change. London: Sage.

  • Pantaleo, Sylvia. 2013. “Revisiting Rosenblatt’s Aesthetic Response through The Arrival.” Australian Journal of Language and Literacy 36: 125134.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Projansky, Sarah. 2007. “Mass Magazine Cover Girls: Some Reflections on Postfeminist Girls and Postfeminism’s Daughters.” In Interrogating Postfeminism: Gender and the Politics of Popular Culture, ed. Yvonne Tasker and Diane Negra, 4072. Durham: Duke University Press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ringrose, Jessica. 2010. “Sluts, Whores, Fat Slags and Playboy Bunnies: Teen Girls’ Negotiation of ‘Sexy’ on Social Networking Sites and at School.” In Girls and Education 3–16: Continuing Concerns, New Agendas, ed. Carolyn Jackson, Emma Carrie, and Emma Renold, 170182. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rosenblatt, Louise M. 1978. The Reader, the Text, the Poem. London: Southern Illinois University Press.

  • Rosenblatt, Louise M. 1995. Literature as Exploration. New York: The Modern Language Association of America.

  • Sanders, April. 2012. “Rosenblatt’s Presence in the New Literacies Research.” Talking Points 24 (1): 26.

  • Shade, Leslie Regan. 2008. “Internet Social Networking in Young Women’s Everyday Lives: Some Insights from Focus Groups.” Our Schools, Our Selves: 6573.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shifman, Limor. 2014. Memes in Digital Culture. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

  • Singer, Amy. 2015. “Little Girls on the Prairie and the Possibility of Subversive Reading.” Girlhood Studies 8 (2): 420. doi:10.3167/ghs.2015.080202.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stokes, Carla E. 2010. “‘Get on My Level’: How Black American Adolescent Girls Construct, Identify and Negotiate Sexuality on the Internet.” In Girl Wide Web 2.0: Revisiting Girls, the Internet and the Negotiation of Identity, ed. Sharon Mazzarella, 4567. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Strle, Danielle. 2013. “In Conversation with Danielle Strle of Tumblr.” Social Data Week, 20 September. http://library.fora.tv/2013/09/20/In_Conversation_with_Danielle_Strle_of_Tumblr (accessed 12 November 2013).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Thumim, Nancy. 2012. Self-Representation and Digital Culture. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Vickery, Jacqueline Ryan. 2010. “Blogrings as Virtual Communities for Adolescent Girls.” In Girl Wide Web 2.0: Revisiting Girls, the Internet and the Negotiation of Identity, ed. Sharon Mazzarella, 183200. New York: Peter Lang.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Warner, Michael. 2002. “Publics and Counterpublics.” Public Culture 14 (1): 4990. doi:10.1215/08992363-14-1-49.

  • Wetherell, Margaret. 2012. Affect and Emotion: A New Social Science Understanding. London: Sage.

  • Willis, Jessica Laureltree. 2009. “Girls Reconstructing Gender: Agency, Hybridity and Transformations of ‘Femininity’.” Girlhood Studies 2 (2): 96118. doi:10.3167/ghs.2009.020207.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Winch, Alison. 2013. Girlfriends and Postfeminist Sisterhood. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

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