Girls: Feminine Adolescence in Popular Culture and Cultural Theory

Girls: Feminine Adolescence in Popular Culture and Cultural Theory

Girls: Feminine Adolescence in Popular Culture and Cultural Theory

Girls: Feminine Adolescence in Popular Culture and Cultural Theory

Synopsis

The Spice Girls, Tank Girl comicbooks, Sailor Moon, Courtney Love, Grrl Power: do such things really constitute a unique "girl culture?" Catherine Driscoll begins by identifying a genealogy of "girlhood" or "feminine adolescence," and then argues that both "girls" and "culture" as ideas are too problematic to fulfill any useful role in theorizing about the emergence of feminine adolescence in popular culture. She relates the increasing public visibility of girls in western and westernized cultures to the evolution and expansion of theories about feminine adolescence in fields such as psychoanalysis, sociology, anthropology, history, and politics. Presenting her argument as a Foucauldian genealogy, Driscoll discusses the ways in which young women have been involved in the production and consumption of theories and representations of girls, feminine adolescence, and the "girl market."

Excerpt

An “age” does not pre-exist the statements which express it, nor the visibilities which fill it.

—Gilles Deleuze, Foucault

my grandmother tells me “You're not a little girl any more.” This is menarche. She asks me if I know what it is and I nod (quickly), but what I mostly know is that “it” is embarrassing and inconvenient. I'm not sure how I feel about not being a little girl any more; possibly I am happy about that. But if I am not sure exactly how different I became today it is clear that I am still a girl in some important ways—as in “There's plenty of time for that kind of thing later.” “That kind of thing” includes: “boys,” though I see boys every day; staying up late or going out at night; makeup and jewelry; and getting my own way about things like clothes, hairstyles and underwear, music, friends, subject choices, and my bedroom—just the kind of things that the book tells me “girls” (as distinct from little girls) are especially interested in. in fact it seems in the book that being interested in or needing these things is part of what defines me as a girl.

The book is one my grandmother gives me to read about puberty, sex, childbirth, and masturbation (in that order), and it tells me that I am now a young woman. It tells me to be proud of that in the rather ominous context of warnings about the physical and emotional distresses of being a girlbecoming-a-woman, as well as the difficulty of successfully getting through . . .

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