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Girls’ Sexualities and the Media

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Edited By Kate Harper, Yasmina Katsulis, Vera Lopez and Georganne Scheiner Gillis

This anthology provides exciting, innovative research focused on the construction of adolescent girls’ sexuality in the media. The volume includes a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives from the humanities and the social sciences, addressing how girls and others respond to, work with, and even resist prevailing media representations of girls’ sexualities and how they use contemporary media as a form of sexual expression.
The authors consider a wide array of sexual attitudes, behaviors, and expressions not commonly seen in the sexualities literature, including the voices of «other» girls whose voices are often ignored, particularly racial/ethnic minority and indigenous girls, sexual minorities, and girls from non-U.S. settings. The use of ethnographic data, in conjunction with media analysis techniques, provides a unique approach to the media studies genre, which tends to highlight an analysis of media content, as opposed to the ways in which media is used in everyday life.
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5 “She’s All That”: Girl Sexuality and Teen Film

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5

“She’s All That”: Girl Sexuality and Teen Film

Catherine Driscoll

Sex as a social function, as a developmental proposition, and as an idea about pleasure and desire, is undeniably pivotal to modern adolescence. Few things seem more central than sexuality to the disciplines, images, and rhetorics that elaborate the importance of adolescence to modern subjectivity. And the emergence of modern adolescence can be mapped by changing ideas about sex as new distinctions between minority and children and between physical and social maturity emerged in legislation, political philosophy, psychology, and popular genres. These distinctions formed a duration ripe for narrative.1 While an older but newly ambivalent marker of puberty continued to distinguish childhood, the “age of sexual consent”emerged to locate “sexual maturity”in late puberty and situate various forms of “mature” education not only as before sex but in important respects as about sex. This is the history within which I want to locate teen film, but my aim in this essay is not only to closely consider how sex defined by sexuality works in teen film but also to argue that the sex characterizing teen film operates, both as psychological drama and as pedagogy of citizenship, on particular premises about girl sexuality. Thus, this essay aims not only to contribute to how we understand teen film but also to challenge the ways we think about the continually fraught public subject of girl sexuality.

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