Girls Studies, as I understand it, is the study of how girls interpret, enact with, perceive, and are affected by the societal pressures and ideologies driven by a heterosexual, binary standard of masculinity and femininity that is driven potently by media and popular cultures. It is the study of how girls perceive themselves, why, and how their ways of thinking about themselves has developed. Girls Studies, at least in Driver’s “Queer Girls and Popular Culture” looks to set free some of the language barriers that trap girls into describing or viewing themselves in certain ways due to the limits of discourse. Driver even mentions in chapter 2 that inventing new language might be necessary in order to have a more flexible discussion about queer girls. Girls Studies seems to have a cautious tone that looks to protect and free girls from the limited way of thinking that is so present in today’s society.
In “Queer Girls”, Susan Driver speaks extensively of the lack of representation of queer girls in the media, and even feminist analysis. She writes about how, because of this lack of representation, girls who define themselves as queer do not have any role models to look up to, or mainstream images of other people like them. Defining “queer” as a flexible, all-encompassing term that includes every kind of girl from FTMs, to butch girls, to intersexuals, and many more, Driver points out that the stereotypical image of lesbians in popular culture is not adequate in representing this category of young women. Popular culture can be very defining for girls- it presents images based on the illusion of a majority opinion about what is sexy, what is beautiful, what is normal, right, bad, good, evil, pure, and desirable. I believe that all women- queer, straight, gay, etc- are affected by these ever-present images and all-consuming ideas of what girls “should” be. Driver points out that it can be especially conflicting for queer girls because there is virtually no one in the media that they can relate to in the sense that they are represented as queer.
In the review of American Girls Studies, a concern that the most recent literature lacks a connection between girls’ social development and issues in their adult lives, as opposed to the first wave of feminism literature. I have not studied Girls Studies in depth enough to confirm or deny this concern, but I can understand the desire to want to bridge connections. Also, the author says that “some populations of girls are still missing from the mainstream research literature”, which is a central focus point of Driver’s book. One thing that really grabbed my attention was a short sentence in the pdf that mentioned the importance of interaction between young girls and adult women. I feel that this importance cannot be emphasized enough- it is a way for women and girls to relate to each other and feel they are not alone, with the comforts that someone has made it through this society already.
I think that our media-driven world absolutely provokes a need for Girls Studies. It is important to research and understand how we are affecting our youth, what images, ideas, and desires are being forcefully presented on perhaps the most impressionable portion of the human population- young girls. It is important to understand how the media and society affect these young women so that we can adapt and support girls so they can grow up with a healthy mindset and good self esteem.