Sunday, September 6, 2009

Girls Studies: Save our Young Girls

Girls Studies is the research of girls to determine if their needs are being met, if there is gender equality and a study of how girls are treated today and in the past. Girls are often not represented in studies if they are not white and heterosexual. It is difficult for researches to gain access to certain cultures and thus determining if and if so to what extent culture and race has additional bias, challenges or advantages is not seemingly as widely studied or taken into account.
How girls come to be women and how women were affected is girls, is absent from these studies. “Specifically, we find that the intergenerational discourse that the defined the first wave of contemporary girls’ studies…is largely absent from more recent work” (Ward and Benjamin).
“I believe that in girls that are straight, gay or anything in between or beyond; that there exists a desire to challenge popular cultural norms. So, it could be difficult to determine which acts are those of someone challenging it because one is queer for other reasons. One reason could be that the labels and expectations of femininity and masculinity could be frustrating lines for people who are straight as well and so are opinions of pop-culture. “A “can-do” girl is cast as the penultimate image of a market-based individualist notion of success through self-invention, resilience, competitive ambition, and continual transformation “(Driver, 30). This is an example of an ideal or image that is difficult for many to live up to since people do not necessarily fall into exact categories. It does seem that with the over-sexed media market that girls could be at-risk depression and more because they cannot realistically live up to images in the media. Mary Piper writes about this since she was quoted in “All About the Girl” when she stated that “They face incredible pressures to be beautiful and sophisticated, which in junior high means using chemicals and being sexual” (1994:12). On the surface, Susan Driver’s book seems to show the importance of Girls’ Studies for girls who are not straight and white, but her research could be valuable to all girls since girls as a whole have been marginalized throughout history.
At the age of adolescence, girls begin to edit their feelings and desires out of their closest relationships, fearing that honesty will breed conflict, and that conflict will lead to isolation and abandonment” (Ward and Cooper, 16). It is known here that girls face the conflict of being feminine and yet sexuality in humans is inherent but a taboo for girls as well. In the adolescent arena, these messages can be confusing to young girls who are given mixed signals and expectations because they cannot be both dualistic and singular at the same time.” Girls’ Studies is needed to help with the imbalance in schools and institutions where boys are encouraged to make their voices loud and clear and girls are expected to be lady-like. Even worse, is the part of Ward and Benjamin’s writing that speaks of girls not being expected to perform as well in the Math and Science’s.

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