Saturday, September 5, 2009

Girls and Identity...Why DOES Girl's Studies Matter

I think Girl’s Studies is the study of girls and the issues they face, from the media, school, friends, parents, etc. I think Girls Studies is the fact that girls are reduced to the standards of “normalization” and categorization; that is- grouped by what is visible, such as “masculine/feminine, hetro/homo, black/white, young/old (Driver 9).” In working with middle school girls, I can positively state that there is so much more to teen girls than what is visible. As Harris pointed out, how important it is to acknowledge the variety of girl’s experience; they are all so different (21)! Even within the queer girl’s culture, Driver illustrates that no girl identifies the same way (42). I feel that Girl’s Studies seeks to uncover the mystery that is the teenage girl.

The fact that pop culture is so prevalent in just about every aspect of life speaks volumes to the existence of Girl’s Studies. The struggle to fit the “perfect” media image can be very taxing on all girls, but especially to queer girls, who may not find anyone to identify with on television or magazines. (Even now, as I checked my myspace, an ad came up for a band called “boys like girls.” What does this say? Boys have to like girls? Boys like girls and girls should like them back?) Driver pointed out that girls who identify as queer must be the “media-accepted” version, or they become freaks (9). Throughout the whole section of the Driver book, it was noted that queer girls have a hard time finding role models, not just to look to as a standard for behavior, but just to find someone to identify with. When queer culture is found on television or in magazines, movies or music, these icons are generally embraced. Driver pointed out that Willow, a character from Buffy, The Vampire Slayer is sort of a focal point for queer girl culture. Music such as Le Tigre, and t.A.T.u. and shows like The L Word give queer girls cultural icons to at the very least, identify with.

Girl’s Studies is important, because it is useful and crucial to understand the pressures girls face, as academics, as teachers, sisters, mothers, friends, brothers, fathers, etc. Someone has to tell girls that it is ok to be smart, silly, queer, non-white, tall, short, thin, etc., etc. Who we consider girls today will soon be adult women. Since it was shown in Sittenfield’s work last week, girlhood has a definite effect on womanhood, someone has to stand up for girls. The current standard of straight, white, middle-class, tall, thin and able is not a reliable standard to hold all girls to. If we don’t tell girls it’s OK to not fit the mold, who will?


Jess said...

It is true that the minority has a hard time finding role models...I feel that women like Ellen Degeneris can be a role model for some homosexual girls, as Michelle Obama can be a role model for young black girls. It's important for adolescent females to have someone to look up to in positive and healthy ways. These roles models can be very important to them as they grow older.

Lindsey said...

That's true Jess! the thing is, I can only think of a few "role models" (I used this term loosely here) for minority girls, but I can think of tons for straight, white, middle class girls. Luckily, that's changing.

Ana :) said...

I agree with you, pop culture places so much pressure on girls. Girls are constantly struggling to fit the "image" they see from the media. And a lot of times in their attempts, girls go to extremes i.e. eating disorders.