'Go Grrrl!': Constructions of femininity in the textual practices of elite girls' schooling

Year: 2008

Author: Charles, Claire

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this paper I consider the utility of discourses of ‘girl power’ for understanding, and complicating, the way youthful femininities are produced in schooling. The paper is concerned with expanding the possibilities for how queer theoretical resources might be utilized within studies of girls and schooling. Existing studies have drawn upon Judith Butler’s notion of a ‘heterosexual matrix’ for understanding, and attending to, the way normative discourses of heterosexuality underpin the school-based production of youthful femininities. The term ‘heterofemininities’ has been used in order to label these school-produced intersections of sex/gender/sexuality. Drawing on discourses of ‘girl power’ that gather around ‘voice’ and responsibility, I propose that the production of ‘hetero-femininities’ within educational contexts might be further explored, and thus complicated, when the significance of discourses of ‘girl power’ is considered. I analyse young women’s discussions of key ‘girl power’ icons in popular culture, generated through fieldwork in an elite girls’ school in Australia. In this analysis I explore the intersections of gender/sexuality/girl power that are produced in the young women’s textual practices.