Avoiding amnesia in girls’ studies

New forthcoming publication! Liesbet van Zoonen and I are taking stock of girls’ studies in Feminist media studies, who are devoting a whole commentary & critique section to girls. An abstract is below, access is library limited.

Rather than exalting the creation of GirlhoodStudies, the authors address their concern that rather than being a new and “exciting” field, girlhood studies is one in “severe crisis,” and that its claims to novelty ignore nearly 30 years of research on this topic. The authors explore the various ways in which girls have been represented, particularly as gullible, vulnerable, and in danger. In their view, most girlhood studies have tended to focus on minority, shocking, or transgressive aspects of girls’ culture, thus under-theorising and researching girls’ every day activities. Additionally, it has become clear that very little research has been done which includes girls’ voices. Perhaps rather worryingly, Duits and Van Zoonen highlight the fact that a number of studies now seem to indicate that while girls are aware of the marketing mechanisms of consumer culture, and are continuously reflecting on the way these influence their own tastes, they hardly connect such reflections to feminist issues of need for change. The authors conclude by stating that there is no easy solution to the current problems within girlhood studies, but that the time has come to learn lessons from past girlhood studies research, and to ensure that it is widely recognised as a distinct field of media and communication scholarship.