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Rewriting Girlhood: Gendered Subjectivities Among Girls and Young Women Attending a Girls’ Empowerment Program in a Rural Canadian Community

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Title: Rewriting Girlhood: Gendered Subjectivities Among Girls and Young Women Attending a Girls’ Empowerment Program in a Rural Canadian Community
Author: Crann, Sara Elizabeth
Department: Department of Psychology
Program: Psychology
Advisor: Barata, Paula C
Abstract: The last three decades have seen a substantial shift in the way Western culture views girls. While previously girls were seen as unimportant and passed over for inquiries into boyhood and womanhood, girls and girlhood have become of central concern in academic and popular culture. This shift from the periphery gave rise to multiple, contradictory girlhood discourses that framed our understanding of girlhood in different ways: girls as vulnerable and in crisis, girls as empowered “can-do” girls, and girls as mean and relationally aggressive. This dissertation is nested within a feminist, interdisciplinary, multi-phase, mixed method community-engaged research project conducted in collaboration with a girls’ empowerment program. Drawing on interviews and focus groups with girls and young women who attended the empowerment camp between 2013 and 2015, this dissertation employs a feminist poststructuralist framework to examine gendered subjectivities of girls and young women living in a rural southwestern Ontario community. The analysis examines how girls and young women construct their understandings of girlhood and how discourses of rurality, girlhood, and femininity, and the subject positions produced through discourse, are implicated in the production of gendered rural subjectivities. Embedded within this analysis is an examination of how the girls and young women constructed ‘place’ within their accounts and the extent to which girls’ subjectivities are situated as their accounts of ‘being’ a girl shifted between constructing their identities and experiences of girlhood at school and the empowerment camp. As a feminist and action-oriented project, this dissertation explores the implications of girls’ empowerment programs and engages with possibilities for empowering girls and young women in ways that resist individualized, neoliberal approaches to empowerment.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/10323
Date: 2017-04
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