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MOMMY FEMINIST: CRITIQUING THE SECOND WAVE IN CONTEMPORARY GIRLS’ FICTION Dr. Gwen Athene Tarbox, Department of English, Western Michigan University.

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Presentation on theme: "MOMMY FEMINIST: CRITIQUING THE SECOND WAVE IN CONTEMPORARY GIRLS’ FICTION Dr. Gwen Athene Tarbox, Department of English, Western Michigan University."— Presentation transcript:

1 MOMMY FEMINIST: CRITIQUING THE SECOND WAVE IN CONTEMPORARY GIRLS’ FICTION Dr. Gwen Athene Tarbox, Department of English, Western Michigan University

2 Girl Power

3 Girl Power in the OED  “Power exercised by girls; specifically a self-reliant attitude among girls and young women manifested in ambition, assertiveness, and individualism.”

4 Driscoll on Girls and Futurity  Feminist authors are typically interested in portraying girls who reflect their own ideas about feminism. Growth is defined as growing into a feminist consciousness.

5 Feminist Dialogues on the Girl The Girl 3 rd wave Anti- feminism Post- feminism 2 nd wave

6 Bridget Jones, Junior Division

7 Contemporary Sub-genre of Girls’ Fiction  Diary format has a long presence in girls’ fiction:  Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl (1947)  Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret (1970)  Catherine, Called Birdy (1995)

8 Contemporary Sub-genre of Girls’  Rennison’s Georgia Nicolson series ( )  Cabot’s Princess Diaries series ( )  Juby’s Alice series ( )

9 Features of YA Diary Fiction: Michael Cadden  “Novels constructed by adults to simulate an authentic adolescent's voice are inherently ironic because the so-called adolescent voice is never— and can never be—truly authentic” (146).  “Direct speech—or dialogue—asks the reader to believe that the narrator gives the floor to the character, allowing the character to speak for him- or herself” (148).

10 Who are these Authors?  All were adults or came of age during what Susan Faludi termed the “backlash” against feminism  All began publishing during the height of post-feminism and “Girl Power.”

11 Pressures Faced by Contemporary Authors of Teenage Texts: Douglas  Although “feminist gains, attitudes, and achievements are woven into our cultural fabric,” authors still have to contend with backlash, or what Susan Douglas now terms “enlightened sexism” (9).

12 What is ‘Enlightened Sexism’?  Enlightened sexism” insists that women have made plenty of progress because of feminism – indeed, full equality has allegedly been achieved – so now it’s okay, even amusing, to resurrect sexist stereotypes of girls and women” (9).  “Enlightened sexism sells the line that it is precisely through women’s calculated deployment of their faces, bodies, attire, and sexuality that they gain and enjoy true power – power that is fun, that men will not resent, and indeed will embrace” (10).

13 Wait for it…

14 The Authors’ Dilemma  How to create girls’ fiction in which self- actualization can be viewed as both empowering and hip?  One way is to make pre-1990s feminism the foil.

15 Hiding Mom Away in the Closet!  ily&member=mom ily&member=mom

16 Douglas on the Feminist Mother:  “Now I ask you, what teenager wouldn’t love to have a feminist mother standing over her shoulder while she watches TV, pointing out how the show perpetuates stereotypes about girls begin narcissistic twits obsessed only with personal relationships” (7)?

17 Generational Divides in Contemporary Feminism  “Enlightened sexism rests crucially on ageism, on severing young women from their elders. Because of its insistence that women now ‘have it all’ (whatever ‘it’ is), enlightened sexism…seeks to become the updated, hip, prevailing common sense about what girls and women can be and do in today’s world” (Douglas 11).  “Feminism thus must remain a dirty word, with feminists (particularly older ones) stereotyped as man-hating, child-loathing, hairy, shrill, humorless, deliberately unattractive Ninjas from Hades” (Douglas 11).

18 There’s No Future For You:


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