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Girls, femininity and classed subjectivity. Valerie Walkerdine School of Social Sciences Cardiff University. Introduction. Background to working with girls: the 4/21 project and research on video games Want to think about this also in relation to masculinity in valleys community.

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Girls femininity and classed subjectivity
Girls, femininity and classed subjectivity

Valerie Walkerdine

School of Social Sciences

Cardiff University


Introduction
Introduction

  • Background to working with girls: the 4/21 project and research on video games

  • Want to think about this also in relation to masculinity in valleys community


Nice kind and helpful
Nice, kind and helpful

  • Study of 10 year olds - favourite ascription amongst girls and teachers

  • Difficult to be clever without being this and also cleverness ascribed to hard work and rule following

  • Girls not displaying this could be called tomboys or in one case - a madam


Femininity
femininity

  • In this sense, femininity is strongly regulated

  • I found similar patterns much more recently in relation to a study of children and video games


Girls femininity and classed subjectivity

  • Femininity as nurturant, co-operative, helpful, while attractive, sexually active, excessive etc - how might girls and young women manage this bewildering constellation of often incompatible modes of femininity?

  • One issue is to understand how this is lived and experienced?


Practices and experience
Practices and experience attractive, sexually active, excessive etc - how might girls and young women manage this bewildering constellation of often incompatible modes of femininity?

  • Regulating Prudence

  • Suburban terrorists

  • Separation of work and play, clear indication of power


Insensitive mothers
Insensitive mothers attractive, sexually active, excessive etc - how might girls and young women manage this bewildering constellation of often incompatible modes of femininity?

  • Tizard and Hughes Young children learning, 1984

  • Sensitive mothers as basis for making meanings and implicitly of educational success


Girls femininity and classed subjectivity

  • All mc mothers sensitive attractive, sexually active, excessive etc - how might girls and young women manage this bewildering constellation of often incompatible modes of femininity?

  • Some wc mothers insensitive - rows, boundaries, explicit power

  • Animals in a zoo who after all are really rather tame

  • Reverse prediction - the only 3 wc girls who get to uni have insensitive mothers


Girls femininity and classed subjectivity


How do working class girls succeed in education
How do working class girls succeed in education? minority children, in particular, the clear sense of strong boundaries, need for firmness, power etc, with added concern about racism

  • In Walkerdine, Lucey and Melody (2002) Growing up girl: psychosocial explorations of gender and class, we argue that we have to view wc educational trajectories as different and not deficient copies of mc trajectories


Some examples
Some examples minority children, in particular, the clear sense of strong boundaries, need for firmness, power etc, with added concern about racism

  • Persistent inequalities in educational provision - difference in schools

  • Women’s domestic labour in normal development - consequences of different amounts of time and orientation to it

  • The only 3 wc girls who go to university have insensitive mothers


Girls femininity and classed subjectivity


Wc practices
WC practices (ie only those produced in relation to a discourse of sensitivity)

  • Strong boundaries between work and play

  • Got washing to do, got ironing to do - it all takes time love

  • Explicit about power differentials, mothers as authority, accept hate and difficult emotions


Kerry and naomi
Kerry and Naomi (ie only those produced in relation to a discourse of sensitivity)

  • Examples of a MC and WC girl


Nicky
Nicky (ie only those produced in relation to a discourse of sensitivity)


Holly
Holly (ie only those produced in relation to a discourse of sensitivity)


Moving beyond cycles of deprivation arguments
Moving beyond cycles of deprivation arguments (ie only those produced in relation to a discourse of sensitivity)

  • For MC families education is about the retention and reproduction of mc status

  • For wc, ‘all we want for our children is to do better than we did. I think that’s what everyone wants’.

  • This means separation from and disidentification from parents, friends, community and this s very painful (see Walkerdine, 1991)


Femininity and masculinity in a south wales valleys community
Femininity and masculinity in a south Wales valleys community

  • Young unemployed men won’t take available work considered feminine

  • Tradition of hard manual masculinity and history of community affect

  • Illiteracy and femininity

  • Distance from the feminine:woman, gay or mammy’s boy


Girls femininity and classed subjectivity

  • Clear strong distance between femininity and masculinity in steel works, now masculinity appears too close to femininity so what appears as a problem of masculinity is about femininity (and the maternal)

  • Trying to uphold a masculinity which the fathers can no longer do and thus the pain of change


Girls femininity and classed subjectivity


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