Telling lies to little girls: motherhood, girlhood and identity

Harrison, Ryl (2015) Telling lies to little girls: motherhood, girlhood and identity. In: Raith, Lisa, Jones, Jenny, and Porter, Marie, (eds.) Mothers at the Margins: stories of challenge, resistance and love. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, pp. 187-203.

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Young girls are the focus of intense scrutiny as a fierce debate continues unabated over the way their sexuality is embodied within the terms and conditions of the contemporary political economy. Practices and representations from the sex industry and pornography are understood "as becoming increasingly normalised, widely dispersed and mainstream" (Gill 2012, 483), but there is little agreement as to what this means in the everyday lives of girls, and for the women who mother them. Angela McRobbie (2007) contends that a new sexual contract is operating within the post-feminist space of a meritocracy that is assumed to exist, as if men and women had already achieved equality. Under this sexual contract, young women are invited through consumer culture to become "phallic girls" by appropriating the sexuality previously reserved for young men. Phallic girls are superficially bold, confident, aggressive and transgressive (McRobbie 2007). Under the contract women are required to display hyper-femininity as "a matter of choice rather than obligation" and McRobbie warns "we could read this as a feminist tragedy, 'the fall of public woman'" (2007, 723, 734). Additionally, Rosalind Gill says a "'technology of sexiness' has replaced 'innocence' or 'virtue' as the commodity that young women are required to offer in the heterosexual marketplace" (2007, 72). Thus, women who are mothering daughters in the harsh light of a male gaze, now filtered through a commodified pornographic aesthetic, face particular challenges in meeting the needs of girls through their acts of, what Sara Ruddick (1989) coined, "preservative love", "nurturance" and "training".

Item ID: 39184
Item Type: Book Chapter (Scholarly Work)
ISBN: 978-1-4438-7235-5
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This chapter was previously presented as: Harrison, Ryl (2011) Telling lies to little girls: motherhood, girlhood and identity. In: Mothers at the Margins, p. 25. From: Mothers at the Margins: Sixth Australian International Interdisciplinary Conference on Motherhood, 27-30 April 2011, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2015 23:16
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160512 Social Policy @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1606 Political Science > 160609 Political Theory and Political Philosophy @ 50%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940113 Gender and Sexualities @ 100%
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