Growing Up Girls: Popular Culture and the Construction of Identity

By Sharon R. Mazzarella; Norma Odom Pecora | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
A Guided Tour through One Adolescent Girl's Culture

Angharad N. Valdivia with Rhiannon S. Bettivia

RHIANNON: Mom, do you have anything to read?

ANGHARAD: Well, all I have is this book called Foucault for Beginners.

RHIANNON: What's that about?

ANGHARAD: It's about this French thinker who influences a lot of theories about popular culture and some about gender.

RHIANNON: Cool! (Later on she asks) Do you have Simone de Beauvoir for Beginners? She sounded so cool in that Foucault book! And could you order me a virgin Piña Colada?

We are on vacation, lounging around the pool of a Howard Johnson's, resting after playing in the water. Rhiannon is getting a tan. Everything about this moment underscores the connections between popular culture, critical theory, feminism, adolescence, parenting, and femininity. I, of course, am having a real piña colada in the shade and reading the entertainment section of a local newspaper, hoping they have a horoscope. I probably should be reading Foucault or something serious like that, but it's too sunny for high theory. As well, I hope that Rhiannon won't become a Foucaultian theorist and abandon her tendency for trenchant materialist critique.

As a parent, a scholar, and a feminist, the whole notion of "the personal is the political" goes without saying. In fact, I must amend this old U.S. feminist slogan to "the intellectual is the personal is the political." Furthermore, there are no special moments when these three areas merge; rather, they are inextricably entwined every second of the day. I am always a mother, and also a professor, and also a feminist scholar. I have to think about gender in a theoretically grounded manner as I attempt to raise my children in a culture that remains

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