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“Fuck Your Body Image”: Teen Girls’ Twitter and Instagram Feminism in and Around School

Part of the Perspectives on Children and Young People book series (PCYP,volume 2)

Abstract

In this chapter we interrogate some of the core ideas of postfeminism as theorized by feminist media scholars (see McRobbie, All about the girl. Routledge, London, 2004a; McRobbie, Fem Med Stud 4:255–264, 2004b and Gill, Gender and the media. Polity Press, Cambridge, 2006) that feminism is in its ‘aftermath’, and largely refuted and disidentified with by girls and young women (Scharff, Repudiating feminism: young women in a neoliberal world. Ashgate, Farnham, 2012). Considering the current rise of fourth wave social media feminisms as pedagogical platforms for challenging everyday sexism, we explore the complex dynamics through which girls are taking up, negotiating and performing on and offline feminism in and around school. We focus on a teen feminist group in a London ‘theatre’ school, exploring how social media feminisms presented a platform for challenging what Angela McRobbie identifies as dominant trends of postfeminist pathologies of femininity including psychological dissafection and bodily malaise. Drawing on theories of networked affect, we document how this feminist group used social media to oppose their distinctly neo-liberalized and marketized school environment where bodily regulation, perfection and sell-ability reign supreme.

Keywords

  • Social Media
  • Teen Girl
  • Social Medium Platform
  • Social Media Site
  • Feminist Group

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This data is part of a larger project, “Feminism in Schools: Mapping impact in practice”, funded by Cardiff University in 2013. Feminist clubs were set up or researched in seven highly diverse secondary schools across England and Wales, including mixed, single sex and fee paying institutions and from a range of religious, ethnic and socio economic backgrounds. Schools participated for at least 6 weeks, with some still going on at present. To date the project has generated qualitative data with approximately 85 young people (girls and boys), as well as the teachers and academics involved in each of the feminist groups. Students participated in a range of semi-structured group and individual interviews and creative arts based methodologies including documentation of a range of material ‘intra-activisms’ and artefacts from the groups (e.g. poems, writings, blogs, sculptures, and online posts from sites like Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter). The ethics (approved through university ethics board) of the project involved getting informed consent from parents and students to participate in interviews and to document and share some of the group productions, including social media posts and messages through screen shots. All data including social media posts and screen captures were passed through the teacher or lead of the feminist group who then sent the materials to the academic researchers (please see Ringrose 2015 and Ringrose and Renold, forthcoming for further methodological and ethical details about the process of working in this way with schools—what we call working amongst an intra-active feminist research assemblage).

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Correspondence to Hanna Retallack or Jessica Ringrose .

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Retallack, H., Ringrose, J., Lawrence, E. (2016). “Fuck Your Body Image”: Teen Girls’ Twitter and Instagram Feminism in and Around School. In: Coffey, J., Budgeon, S., Cahill, H. (eds) Learning Bodies. Perspectives on Children and Young People, vol 2. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-0306-6_6

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