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"Ideal", "deviant", female : "sea-changed" and "impossible" femininities in the contemporary moment Muir, Jennifer 2008-12-31

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`IDEAL', 'DEVIANT', FEMALE:- SEA-CHANGED - AND "IMPOSSIBLE" FEMININITIES IN THECONTEMPORARY MOMENTbyJENNIFER MUIRB.Ed., University of Manitoba, 1996A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTSFOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Sociology of Education)THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA(Vancouver)MAY 2008© JENNIFER MUIR, 2008ABSTRACTIn this thesis project I explore economically disadvantaged young women'sresponses to notions of ideal and deviant femininity circulating within contemporarymass media. Specifically, I examine six young women's expressed accounts andcritiques of particular forms of femininity in relation to their own experiences of socialexclusion. Additionally, and drawing upon an experimental adaptation of WalterBenjamin's montage method, I assess the symbolic links between mass mediarepresentations of femininity and exclusion along classed and gendered lines. I use thisadaptation of Benjamin's technique to historicize and contextualize dominant notions ofideal (deviant) femininity circulating in the contemporary moment and to engage in a"reflexive" (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992) analysis of my own entanglement with thenorms and values which proliferate within mass media. The foundational thinking whichdirects my aims throughout this thesis explores the analytical possibilities of joining thecomplementary theoretical work of Hannah Arendt and Pierre Bourdieu within aninterdisciplinary theoretical and methodological framework.iiTABLE OF CONTENTSABSTRACT ^ iiTABLE OF CONTENTS ^ iiiTABLE OF FIGURESACKNOWLEDGEMENTS viDEDICATION ^ viiChapter One  1INTRODUCTION AND THEORETICAL GROUNDING ^ 1Introduction ^  1Research Questions in Context ^ 6Theoretical/Philosophical Grounding: A framework for analysis ^ 10Oblivion, Memory and Media: Disposable Femininity and Anesthetizing theworld ^  16Radical Thoughtlessness and the Banality of Evil ^  18Thoughtlessness and Doxa in Media and Lived Experience ^ 21Veiling History through Narratives of Trauma and Triumph 24Theories of Creative Action ^ 31Summary of Chapters 39Chapter Two ^ 44LITERATURE REVIEW ^ 44Introduction 44The Roots of Girls' Studies 45Contested ground: Young women, popular culture and feminism ^ 48Disputing the "power" of young women in popular constructions of femininity ^ 50Consuming ideals and the idealization of (female) consumption ^ 55Constructing the feminine in constraint: female youth subjectivities and"difficult circumstances" ^ 62Conclusion ^ 71Chapter Three 75METHODOLOGY 75Introduction ^ 75Philosophical and Epistemological Orientation to Methods ^ 76Phenomenology 77Hermeneutics ^ 79Arendtian Phenomenological Hermeneutics ^  82Arendt's Metaphor of "Crystallization" 85Historical method ^ 88Introduction 88Montage as context 89Data Collection ^ 93Interview Respondents and Context ^ 94Process 95Documents ^ 98Arrangement and analysis of Documents ^ 99Chapter Four  101iiiAN ICONOGRAPHY OF EXCLUSION: "MASCULINE DOMINATION", MASSMEDIA AND MONTAGE ^ 101Introduction ^  101On memory, the -paradox of doxa - and combating "human superfluity" ^ 104Girls' bodies as fetishized and pathologized "bait" ^  112Women's bodies rendered "superfluous" ^  119Dichotomous dependency: legitimate and illegitimate constructions ofgendered ^ 128`need' through private trauma ^ 128"Deviant" need and gendered "hope": "Fixing" Sherry Cowx ^ 137"Traumatic" narratives of need: self-help and self-invention through surgery ^ 139Conclusion ^  145Chapter Five  147YOUNG WOMEN'S "RECONCILIATIONS" OF IDEAL (DEVIANT) FEMININITYIN CIRCUMSTANCES OF ECONOMIC DISADVANTAGE ^ 147Introduction ^  147Review  147Lives in context: young women's ambivalence, identification and creation of152meaning in pathologized neighbourhoods ^  152Acquired invisibility: young women navigate and reconcile public spaces markedby (sexual) violence ^  159Reinventing Freedom in (as) Constraint: mass media, consumption, economicdisadvantage and the "impossible girl" (Griffin, 2004) ^ 168Impossible bodies ^  170Empowerment, consumption and the economies of fashion  177Impossible Freedoms  186Conclusion ^  194Chapter Six  198CONCLUSION 198Summary of arguments and findings ^ 199Potential sites of "possibility" and change 204(Arendt, 1958/1998) ^ 204Concluding remarks 212REFERENCES ^ 215APPENDIX A 226APPENDIX B 228APPENDIX C ^ 229ivTABLE OF FIGURESFigure 1. Maclean's magazine front cover, January 1, 2007 ^ 111Figure 2. Chatelaine magazine, 1949 "Husband Beats Wife" advertisement ^ 118Figure 3. Marie Claire magazine, spring 2005, "Married With Accessories" 118Figure 4. Marie Claire magazine, March 2005, "Married with Accessories" 119Figure 5. Marie Claire magazine, March 2005, "Married with Accessories" ^ 120Figure 6. Marie Claire magazine March, 2005, "Married With Accessories" 123Figure 7. Marie Claire magazine March, 2005, "Married With Accessories" 124Figure 8. Marie Claire magazine March, 2005, "Married with Accessories" ^ 124Figure 9. Ladies Home Journal magazine, 1938, 'Lysol feminine hygiene' advertisement ^ 131Figure 10. The Vancouver Sun, November 18, 2000, "A Fix for Sherry" 131Figure 11. Elle Girl magazine, June/July, 2005, V05 advertisement ^ 177ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThis thesis could not have been written without the encouragement, patience anduncommon kindness of so very many people.I want to first thank my mentor and supervisor, Jo-Anne Dillabough, for her sharpanalytical mind and sharper wit and for her ability to strike the right balance betweenhumane guidance and rigorous challenge. I also want to express my gratitude to mycommittee, Mona Gleason and Michelle Stack, who accommodated me in a time crunchand still found the time to give thorough, thoughtful and challenging feedback. Thanks tothe whole committee for encouraging me to push on through to the end (there was anend!).A big grin of acknowledgement, too, to the women of 'the thesis group', brought togetherby Jo, who provided laughter, footnotes, food, friendship and insight all along the way.Special thanks to Jackie and Erin for all their answers to all my questions and for theirwise (and good-humoured) assurances.Thanks to my family and friends for their faith, unflagging support and frequent, cheerycalls and emails. A huge thank you to all for the many times we didn't ' talk about 'thethesis' (and for your endurance when we did). Thanks Sophie, for your eleventh hourthesis formatting tutorial and for four hours of your life that you will never get back(that's friendship!); and Cristy, for going well beyond, for sailing calmly through ourfamily's daily chaos and for becoming part of our family. I want to say, too, how much Iappreciate my parents' and brothers' guidance, strength and regular pep talks and theirforbearance when I called on 'those' days (my turn is done now, Matt). Finally, thankyou Leigh for your regular efforts at explaining to curious friends how Hannah Arendtand tabloid magazines might be linked, for taking it in stride when I set a defence date amonth before your final exams and for discovering the knack for getting James to sleepthrough the night. Mostly, though, thanks for your compassion and love.viDEDICATIONVery simply. I dedicate this effort to my grandparents, auntie and gran. I could see yousmiling, grandpa, whenever I got to the end of another chapter revision.viiChapter OneINTRODUCTION AND THEORETICAL GROUNDINGIntroduction`C'mon, take control'. 'Empower yourself. 'Transform yourself. 'Now you have thepower'. 'Reveal the goddess in you'. '[Be] the perfect mix of tough and girlie'. 'Be acrowd pleaser'. Tamper yourself. 'Keep it real'. 'Change your mind'. 'Choose youroutfit wisely'. 'Choose your look'. 'Dream it—Live it'. 'Dare'. 'Choose'. Have it all':In the popular media of the 'West' much is made of the power of young women tochoose to be authors of their own personal destinies despite the reality of restrictive socialand material conditions. Such representations of powerful, unfettered feminine freedomrepresent an ideological fallacy, driven in part by currents of liberal and neo-liberalindividualism with its attending popular rhetoric of choice, freewill and accountability.On one level the areas of choice presented to young women often fall within the privaterealm of the state (e.g., fashion, beauty, motherhood, personal relationships,housekeeping, entertaining, self-esteem) effectively presenting twenty-first century girls"in drag as powerful decision makers" (Fine, 2004, p. xv). On another level, gendereddiscourses of choice ignore (and so render invisible) the social and economic constraintswhich exist in the lives of many young women (see McRobbie, 2004a). Moreover, suchdisadvantage is often pathologized within popular media representations of femininitywhich conflate the appearing Who (see Arendt, 1958/1998; Kristeva, 2001) of a youngwoman with her social and economic circumstances thus underpinning exclusion alonggendered lines (see Bullen and Kenway, 2004; Skeggs, 2005).All quotes taken from advertisements or articles in "Teen People" (2005), "Elle Girl" (2005), "The Swan"(2004-2005)1Although various mainstream media will refer to, and even offer debate on thepossible significance of some of the more contentious or sensational mediarepresentations of femininity in the lives of young women, such media coverage rarelymoves beyond limited and limiting gendered discourses of "empowerment (see Griffin,2004). Furthermore, larger ethical questions of societal inclusion and exclusion are rarelylinked to such rhetoric. There is, however, a growing body of literature in the field ofgirls ' studies which seeks to complicate contemporary representations of femininity bypositioning young women at what Harris (2004a) calls "the corner of feminism andneoliberalism" and by refusing to search for a final, regulatory definition of what it is to"be a girl" (p. xvii-xviii). In this thesis, I seek to both add to and extend the boundariesof girls' studies by following the example set by scholars who draw upon strongtheoretical traditions and interdisciplinary approaches in their research into gender, youthand social exclusion (see Adkins, 2003; Dillabough, 2004; Bullen and Kenway, 2004;Kehily, 2004; McLeod, 2005; McNay, 2000; McRobbie, 2004a, 2004b, 2005; Nayak &Kehily, 2008).My specific investigative aims are threefold. First, I assess economicallydisadvantaged girls' perspectives on issues of gender and gendered relations, inparticular, how they think about popular images of femininity circulating in the massmedia. Second, I propose to examine the relationship between young women's accountsand critiques of particular forms of femininity and their own social exclusion. 2 Finally,In electing to interview young women who live in a marginalized and disadvantaged area of a large city Iaim to challenge popular representations which, along with sexualizing and fetishizing young women'sbodies, personalize and pathologize gendered experiences of social and economic disadvantage. As Bullenand Kenway (2004) note such depictions are not limited to the popular media. Within scholarly circles,there is a "dominant strand of underclass theory that argues the problem for the 'underclass' is noteconomic poverty per se, but an impoverishment of cultural and civic values" (Murray 1999 as quoted inBullen and Kenway, 2004, p. 142). The authors move on to explain that once pathologized versions are2my desire to historicize such accounts, to contextualize the media samples used duringthe interviews and to engage in a reflexive analysis (see Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992)of my own entanglement with such media (and that of my reader) set the terms for mythird aim which is to reveal the doxic (see Bourdieu, 1998. 2001) symbolism ofsymbolic/masculine domination (2001) embedded within contemporary mediarepresentations of "ideal" and "deviant" femininity.Therefore, and with reference to my third aim, in the fourth chapter of the thesis Iengage in an experimental work which assesses the link between mass mediarepresentations of femininity and exclusion along gendered and classed lines using anadaptation of Walter Benjamin's historically grounded montage technique (see Buck-Morss, 1989; Goodman, 2003). I suggest that montage presents an effective method foridentifying and analysing doxic (Bourdieu, 1998, 2001) symbols of objectified, fetishizedand sexualized femininity as such symbolism manifests in contemporary mass mediarepresentations of "ideal" and "deviant" young women. In so doing I argue thatcontemporary media representations of ideal femininity are both fluid and infused withthe static structures of the social world which are themselves imbued with a long historyof what Bourdieu (2001) calls symbolic/masculine domination. 3 Therefore, idealfemininity necessarily delineates, implicitly and explicitly, the similarly mutable,contingent and symbolic boundaries of deviant femininity. In other words, mediaproliferated representations of the ideal young woman participate in the culturaldisseminated through mass media, they "become part of the popular imaginary [and] such theories tend toreinforce social exclusion" (ibid.).Bourdieu's concept of symbolic/masculine domination is discussed in detail later in this introductorychapter.3production of feminine deviancy. 4 Moreover, the symbolism of ideal femininity isdistinctly classed (see Bourdieu. 2001; Skeggs. 2005). The symbolic ideal is constructedusing value systems of the middle and privileged classes and so deviant femininity istherefore linked to lower social and economic status. I therefore follow Bourdieu (1998,2001) in my contention that economically disadvantaged girls, lacking the social, culturaland often familial capital of their more advantaged peers, are particularly and negativelyaffected by the pervasive and relentless social pursuit of the ideal female and the publicconsumption of 'her' image.The media montage chapter thus stands as a kind offragmented 'iconography ofthe feminine' which provides a context for a smaller sample of gendered teen magazineimages and text and for the narrated experiences (of gender and exclusion) of six youngwomen living in constrained social and economic circumstances in a deeply pathologizedurban center in Canada. I now move forward to outline the foundational thinking whichdirects my central investigative aims.Broadly speaking, I seek to follow Arendt's directive to think "without abannister" (1954/2006, p. xvi) 6 as such an exercise might apply to thinking about theHereinafter I refer to "ideal" and "deviant" femininity as ideal (deviant) femininity except where I amdiscussing a specific representation of the feminine ideal or feminine deviancy.Both Arendt and Benjamin reflected (separately) upon the potentially powerful insights (toward a betterunderstanding of the past, present and future) gained through the observation and analysis of a"fragmented" history. For Benjamin in particular, such 'fragmented' glimpses of insight were grounded incultural artifacts and the material "debris" of the marketplaces (see Arendt, 1968, 1971; Buck-Morss, 1989;Eiland, 2006 [Trans.] of Benjamin's previously unpublished Berlin Childhood around 1900).6 I refer here to Arendt's "habit of thinking" which demanded that scholars "visit" important issues (and"new" historical/social/political phenomena) from as many perspectives as possible. I contend that suchvisiting requires an interdisciplinary approach to research.Arendt's former student recounts a vivid memory of Arendt's exemplary `thought-habit' ofvisiting:Whenever I imagine to myself how Hannah Arendt — who was my teacher — might have judgedsome phenomenon and brought clarity to it for others, I hear her heavily German-accented voicecarefully saying: Well, veil, on one hand... and den on another hand...Und look here, consider itthis way...' Then she pauses, and you can actually see in her face how much she is mentally4nature and effect of our contemporary media consumption in relation to such media'srepresentation of "ideal" and "deviant" femininity, about how and why young womenmight reconcile such media, and finally. about whether (or not) young women whoalready live in disadvantaged circumstances are further "alienated" (see Arendt'sconcerns about "world alienation", 1954/2006) by the normalization of such idealizedfemininities. As such, I have developed an interdisciplinary theoretical andmethodological frame through which I will explore: (1) the myriad media representationsof femininity; and, (2) marginalized young women's "reconciliations" (see Arendt'sdiscussions of "reconciliations with reality", 1954/2006, 1958/1998) of such media in thecontext of their geographic location and their particular social and cultural circumstances.My theoretical lens explores the analytical possibilities of joining thecomplementary theories of Arendt and Bourdieu and is also influenced by a number oftheorists whose work spans the disciplines (and interdisciplines) of sociology, history,feminism, cultural studies and youth cultural studies. Admittedly such a diverseborrowing of thoughts has the potential to cause confusion. Yet, I believe aninterdisciplinary theoretical framework can also bring precision to analysis because itseclectisicm best reflects the interwoven, history-laden "untidiness" (Baehr on Arendt,2002, p.804) of life and of our public spaces. Moreover, I also contend that such a multi-layered approach will help to challenge my own "habits" of entanglement (see Bourdieuon the habitus, 2000) with the ubiquity and sheer ordinariness of deeply gendered mediawhich perpetuates the "complacent repetition of 'truths' which have become trivial andempty" and which, according to Arendt, are "among the outstanding characteristics of ourenjoying what Kant refen -ed to as the 'enlarged mentality' of opinion sharing, consulting, payingcalls on other points of view: 'Aber sehen Sie mal! But look sharp!] Here is the other side,another perspective.' There were never any sound bites. (Young-Bruehl, 2006, pp.14-15)5time" (1958/1998, p. 5). However, I also keep in mind Arendt's observation that "thoughtitself arises out of incidents of living experience and must remain bound to them as theonly guideposts by which to take its bearings" (1954/2006, p. 14). As such I ground mytheorizing in both selected samples of media representations of femininity (see chapterfour) and in six young women's experiences of such femininities in relation to their ownaccounts of economic disadvantage and marginalization within society (see chapter five).And so, in tying this investigation's range of theoretical influences to the dual`guideposts' of media samples or narrated experience I hope to mitigate the potentiallydisorienting effects of interdisciplinary scholarship.In the following section I offer a summation of my central research questions,followed by their theoretical grounding. I then move forward to outline the largertheoretical framework which will guide this investigation. In the final section of thischapter I will outline the content of the chapters to follow.Research Questions in ContextThe central research questions framing this investigation are designed to assesshow six young women (aged 15-16) who live, work and attend school in a deeplypathologized neighbourhood located within a Canadian city create and narrateexperiences of exclusion and accounts of femininity which are meaningful to them 7 inrelation to public representations of ideal (deviant) femininity. As part of the interviewIn Common Culture: Symbolic Work at Play in the Everyday Cultures of the Young, Paul Willis uses theconcept of "symbolic creativity" to understand the consumption of media representations as a means bywhich youth produce and reproduce a unique and shifting youth culture (or sub-culture) that is meaningfulto the young people who identify with both the (sub)culture itself and the signifiers of that culture (1990).Thus, my use of terms and concepts like 'symbolic representations' and young people's 'construction ofmeaning' is grounded in both a larger (Arendtian) phenomenological understanding of meaningfulexperiences in shared public spaces or a sense of 'belonging' to the world, and, in Paul Willis' extensiveand specific studies of the construction of meaning in youth cultures.6protocol, young women were asked to respond to three representations of femininitydrawn from two popular magazines marketed to young women (Elle Girl. 2005 and TeenPeople. 2005) and their responses were discussed alongside their own experiences ofsocial and economic exclusion (see methods section in chapter three for full details). Thequestions are designed to facilitate an exploration of the links between female youthcultures, mass media and the, " and cultural processes of exclusion and itsnuanced forms [and] their evolution across time" (Dillabough, 2002, p. 212) and areasked as follows.How do contemporary media represent 'ideal' (and thus 'deviant') femininity andwhat symbolic connections do such representations have to the "historical structure of themasculine order" (Bourdieu, 2001, p. 5)? How do socially and economicallydisadvantaged girls draw upon such publicly disseminated symbolism to narrate bothconformity and resistance to 'emphasized femininity' in a way that is meaningful to themand how might such actions be informed by their social and material positioning in thestate? How do such young women see themselves positioned within their immediatematerial and social conditions? More specifically, what is the relationship between thesocial location of such young women and the reproduction of dominant notions of the`perfect girl' or 'impossible femininity' throughout history? Finally, if young women seethe need to subvert dominant representations of 'deviant' and 'ideal' femininity, whatmight be the means by which they challenge such notions? Or, to position this questionwithin more provocative, theoretical debates which question the role of young people insubverting domination (see Bourdieu, 2001; Willis, 1977, 1990), how do such young7women account for some notion of a constrained yet "generative" (see Bourdieu.1997/2000, McNay. 2000) agency in their everyday life?The questions I have posed are most profoundly influenced by Arendtianphilosophical discussions on the politics of public space. In broad terms, the researchquestions outlined here follow from Arendt's assertion that all human beings "insertthemselves into the world" through daily action, however mundane, and are of the worldand not merely in it" (1971, p. 22). Specifically, Arendt's unique, phenomenologicallyoriented account of agonistic action in plural and mobile public spaces, and, in particular,her insistence on the need to visit such in between spaces, reflects the epistemologicalgrounding of the questions which direct this project. 9Arendtian phenomenology argues that meaningful experience is contingent uponboth public action and the corresponding observation of others who are not like us'. II)Visiting is a hermeneutic tool which requires the researcher to engage in such agonisticspaces which live within what Arendt called the "existing web of human relationships"(characterized by the public enactment of "innumerable conflicting wills and intentions")(1958/1998, p. 184). Such an engagement serves to expand our "horizons of experience"and protects against the development of the sort of collective forgetfulness (what Arendtcalled holes of oblivion) which feeds a denial of "human particularity" (see 1954/2006,8 I use the term agency here with the understanding that all human action is conditional — that is to say it isnever free from, nor entirely constrained by, the historical, cultural, economic or political realities of oursocial positioning in the world. Action, or agency, in this sense, is understood to exist somewhere in themutable tension between "possibility and constraint" (McNay 2000). In the theoretical section of thischapter I offer a longer discussion on the difficult concept of defining 'agency' using ideas drawn from thework of Hannah Arendt, Pierre Bourdieu, Lois McNay and Paul Willis.9 Phenomenology serves as a premise of this work in part as rejection of the liberal presupposition thatindependent or transparent knowledge of self and self in relation to society is possible (see Bourdieu'sconcept of habitus 2000, 2001). Such a perspective deliberately avoids a deterministic approach tounderstanding the relationship between the "social and cultural processes of exclusion" (Dillabough, 2002)and young women's elaborations and theories of gender identity which form part of this Arendt's unique conceptualization of 'otherness' is taken up in detail later in this chapter.81963, 1971). But, Arendt was also well aware that "habits of thinking linger" because ourways of understanding the world are linked to a past and thus inside our heads [and]ingrained in our thinking" (see Young-Bruehl. 2006, p.10). Arendt argued that those whowould think beyond such 'habits of thinking' must therefore identify and engage in all ofthe ways in which an issue or an idea has been thought about historically, then theorizenew understandings (grounded in experience) and finally balance such newunderstandings with (and within) a perpetually shifting "reality" (ibid.). I move forwardnow to explore a Bourdieusian example of what such academic visiting might look likeand how it might offer a fresh perspective on the material realities of gendered socialexclusion as it might relate to low income girls and young women and the mass media.Alongside the work of Hannah Arendt, I also argue that Pierre Bourdieu'sextensive ethnographic study of symbolic/masculine domination offers an example ofacademic visiting which is instructive on two levels in relation to this investigation(2001). Bourdieu asserts that the scholars and their works must take a "detour" I I into"exotic tradition" (in his case, an extensive ethnography of the Kabyle tradition inAlgeria) in order to, "[dismantle] the processes responsible for [the] transformation ofhistory into nature, of cultural arbitrariness into the natural" (2001, p. 2). In generalterms, I interpret Bourdieu's use of the term 'detour' as an exhortation to deliberatelyexplore different paths of understanding and analysis, particularly when deciding how toapproach prolifically studied issues (i.e., media, popular culture, young women'srelationship to such social phenomena in relation to their social positioning withinsociety). By traveling through more unfamiliar theoretical territory I might better identifythe 'arbitrary' in seemingly 'natural' anecdotes, experiences and media representations.I The concept of metaphorical detour is also taken up by Ricoeur (1992).9In other words, visiting experience by way of a deliberate detour better reveals both thehistorical roots and contemporary manifestations of exclusion in relation to masculinedomination (Bourdieu, 2001).In this light, 'exotic traditions' can be nothing more (and nothing less) than theactions of appearing in a living culture (see Arendt. 1958/1998; Bourdieu, 2001),produced daily by those who live (in) it. And so, while an extensive ethnography wasimpractical for a master's thesis, I have attempted to employ a method (outlined inChapter three) which adheres both to Arendt's philosophical discussion on the vitalimportance of systematic, academic visiting and to Bourdieu's experientially groundedinstruction to expose the "arbitrary", "culturally contingent" and "paradoxical" nature ofexclusion (2001). Such a methodological approach presupposes that contemporary massmedia is one of several "interconnected institutions" which Bourdieu (2001) identifies asparticipants in a "labour of eternalization" 12 which is "responsible for the relativedehistoricization and eternalization of the structure[s]" of exclusion (pp. vii-viii).Theoretical/Philosophical Grounding: A framework for analysisMan's search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life.(Frankl, 1985, p. 121)I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! ... This universe henceforth without amaster seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flakeof that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world.(Camus, 1955/2005, p. 119)Drawing from Arendtian notions of plurality in public spaces, the mutable,meaningful nature of all experience and natality (see 1958/1998, 1971) I proceed from12 Bourdieu also implicates "the family, the church, the state, the educational system..." in such 'labours'(ibid.).10the perspective that humans are, embodied creatures whose...material engagement withthe world of world-constitution and world-creation" (Benhabib, 2000. p. 81).Such a perspective is inherently practical in its focus on meaningful action grounded in asocial (and historical) context, particularly in relation to the meaning systems youngwomen might derive from popular culture in relation to femininity. In other words,whether we act believing that there is an ultimate, external meaning inherent to living or,like Camus, believe that there is no external meaning attached to the world of humanaffairs, common to both perspectives is the fact that in living in the world every day weboth reproduce and change it - often with little conscious knowledge of the effects of ouractions (Arendt, 1958/1998; Bourdieu, 2001; Willis, 1977, 1990). In the followingsection I will outline the theoretical concepts employed throughout this thesis, beginningwith the broad, unifying theory of Hannah Arendt.Borrowing from Shakespeare, Arendt likens our world to a stage, "common to allwho are alive" (1971, p. 21), on which we act out our life stories in and on the world.Such life stories, however, ought not to evoke a liberal understanding of 'identity' orselfhood. Arendt rejects the notion of static identity, arguing instead that our appearancesin the world are shifting, transitory and dependent on the observation of others (pp. 36-37). Human identity is not understood to be a transcendent entity apart from the bodyand from the world, but instead firmly situated within the complex spaces of socialrelations (1958/1998). Our daily actions on the imagined world stage stand ascontinuous beginnings which are, ultimately, the, "...actualization of the humancondition of natality" (p. 178). The 'condition of natality', as both fact and metaphor,compares all human action ("[every] word and deed [throu gh which] we insert ourselves11into the human world") to a "second birth" which is "stimulated by the presence ofothers...but...never conditioned by them (p. 176). Moreover, our daily beginnings mustoccur amidst a plurality of spectators who perceive each story from unique and distinctperspectives while acting out their own stories on that same world stage (1971, p. 21). Itis important to note that Arendt perceives a political significance inherent within theconditions of appearing. In contrast, dominant constructions of ideal feminine agencyfrequently tie legitimate citizenship to consumption (see Gonick, 2006; Harris, 2004a)and so act to limit young women's popularly acclaimed "freedom of choice" to choosingbetween what Willis (1990) calls "feminine style-and-identity products" which areultimately embedded within the private realm (p. 13). Moreover, young women withoutthe financial means to participate in this dominant formulation of agency are excludedfrom such definitions of ideal femininity.Arendtian thinking shifts the focus from such statically defined notions ofindividual identity. Titled variously an "ontology of display" (Curtis, 1999, p. 30) and an"anthropological universalism" (Benhabib, 2000, p. 80) Arendt's philosophy is groundedin what she identifies as the universal human condition of plurality. Arendt notes that:Nothing and nobody exists in this world whose very being does not presuppose aspectator...nothing that is, insofar as it appears, exists in the singular; everythingthat is is meant to be perceived by somebody. Not man but men [sic] inhabit thisplanet. Plurality is the law of the earth. (1971, p. 19)It is important to note that in claiming plurality as the primary condition of humanexistence Arendt is neither ignoring nor implicitly engaging in the stratification ofhumans according to familiar normative categories of race, gender, nationality or socio-economic status. Arendt (1958/1998) links identification of the Other to a focus on the`what' of humanity as opposed to the 'who' (see also Kristeva, 2001, chap. 4). When we12begin to identify the 'what' of another we, "...get entangled in a description of qualitieshe [sic] necessarily shares [and does not share] with others like him [sic]; we begin todescribe a type or a 'character' in the old meaning of the word, with the result that his[sic] specific uniqueness escapes us" (Arendt, 1958/1998. p. 181). 13 I would argue thatin the repetition of representations of ideal (deviant) femininity as a series of definingcharacteristics, media participates in creating social conditions which exclude particularfemale subjectivities in particular contexts. In other words, such media eliminatesplurality as a condition within the popular spaces which purport to represent youngwomen. Arendt critiques such categorization of humans on the grounds that we begin tobecome alienated from the world and from meaningful experiences within a common"web of relationships and enacted stories" (p. 183). So, although our appearances on theworld stage rely upon the existence of others, otherness is typical of humanity and istherefore not invoked as a category distinct from the norm. Ultimately, Arendt arguesthat the drive to classify ourselves and others as other than" exists because our dominantsocial and cultural ideologies fail to recognize that, "human distinctness is not the sameas otherness"(1958/1998, p. 176). We simply do not recognize that plurality is ourstrength; it is the condition which makes us both distinct and equal within our commonspaces (1958/1998).Given the inherent mutualism which distinguishes the Arendtian concept ofplurality it follows that we find in Arendtian theory a rejection of the "cult of individuallife" (Kristeva, 2001, p. 7). Segregation within and from society is rejected precisely3 Emphasis added.14 Bourdieu calls this drive the "classification struggle" (2001).13because it negates the role of the spectator; the observer who is essential to the existenceof meaningful public l ' spaces of appearance and action. Canovan (1998) explains that:At the heart of [Arendt's] analysis of the human condition is the vital importancefor civilized existence of a durable human world...only the experience of sharinga common human world with others who look at it from different perspectives canenable us to see reality in the round and to develop a shared common sense.Without it, we are each driven back on our own subjective experience, in whichonly our feelings, wants, and desires have reality. (p. xiii)' 6Such isolated notions of subjectivity negate what Arendt calls the reconciliationwith reality which can only occur in our agonistic interaction with other distinct humans(1954/2006, 1971). Arendt notes that it is only "the presence of others who see what wesee and hear what we hear [which] assures us of the reality of the world and ourselves..."(1958/1998, p. 50). It follows, then, that Arendt is most concerned with the loss ofshared spaces of action and speech which contributes to a kind of ubiquitous culturalmemory loss. Furthermore, she cautions that the loss of the "revelatory character" ofaction (the shared observance of our daily beginnings) creates the world conditions ofoblivion in which human particularity is denied (1963; also see Curtis, 1999). Reflectingon the modern condition of increasing world alienation Arendt observes that:The tragedy began...when it turned out that there was no mind to inherit and toquestion, to think about and to remember. The point of the matter is that the`completion,' which indeed every enacted event must have in the minds of thosewho then are to tell the story and to convey its meaning, eluded them; and without15 From an Arendtian perspective the concept of the 'public' is very specifically linked to distinct andobserved human action and speech within common spaces. The public, "...signifies the world itself, in sofar as it is common to all of us and distinguished from our privately owned place in it" (1958, p. 52).16 The entire Canovan quotation (including Arendt's own words) appears as follows:At the heart of [Arendt's] analysis of the human condition is the vital importance for civilizedexistence of a durable human world, built upon the earth to shield us against natural processes andprovide a stable setting for our mortal lives. Like a table around which people are gathered, thatworld "relates and separates men [sic] at the same time" (p. 52). Only the experience of sharing acommon human world with others who look at it from different perspectives can enable us to seereality in the round and to develop a shared common sense. Without it, we are each driven backon our own subjective experience, in which only our feelings, wants, and desires have reality.(1958, p. xiii)14this thinking completion after the act, without the articulation accomplished byremembrance. there simply was no story left that could be told. (1954/2006. p.6) 17I contend that the dangers of such a retreat into isolated subjectivity are readilyapparent in the contemporary dominance of neo-liberal narratives of progress, hyper-individualism and self-invention which are manifest in media representations of 'ideal'femininity. Further, I use Arendt's conceptualization of plural public spaces (and of thedangers of their obliteration) as a frame to examine the relevance of such representationsto the daily experiences of young, marginalized women. In the following section Iexplore the Arendtian theories of radical thoughtlessness and trauma narratives whichinform my analysis throughout this thesis. Both concepts address Arendt's mostfundamental concern: an examination of the socio-political structures and processeswhich assist in the creation of a void in public consciousness which in turn contributes toand obscures the dangers of "human superfluity" (1971). I suggest that mass mediarepresents one such mechanism for anesthetizing the public imaginary through itsrepetition of pity-inducing and paralyzing representations of the deviant young womanwhich access deeply classed and racialised symbols of dependency and disgust (seeMcRobbie, 2005; Skeggs, 2001, 2005) and the ideal young woman as one who canimprove her life via publicly legitimized regimes of physical and psychic self-inventionthrough consumption. Harris (2004a) points out that "young people's capacity to...make`consumer choices' among the new social rights service providers depends entirely ontheir economic circumstances" (p. 165). Thus, economically disadvantaged young17 In Kristeva, 2001, p.17. Full citation: Arendt (1968) The Gap Between Past and Future, Preface toBetween Past and Future: Eight exercises in Political Thought New York: Viking University Press.15women are left with few popularly legitimized avenues for participation in public spaces(Griffin. 2004: Harris. 2004a).Oblivion, Memory and Media: Disposable Femininity and Anesthetizing the worldThe modern age, with its growing world-alienation, has led to a situation where man,wherever Ile goes, encounters only himself [sic]In the situation of radical world-alienation, neither history nor nature is at all conceivable.This twofold loss of the world...has left behind it a society of men [sic] who, without acommon world which would at once relate and separate them, either live in desperatelonely separation or are pressed together into a mass. For a mass-society is nothing morethan that kind of organized living which automatically establishes itself among humanbeings who are still related to one another but have lost the world once common to all ofthem. (Arendt, 1954/2006, pp. 89-90)The impetus to begin this thesis investigation originated, in part, from a chanceviewing of Fox television network's reality plastic surgery program, The Swan. I wascompiling the reference list for a term paper which used Arendt's discussion of thedangers of trauma narratives to analyse the media and international response to the 1994genocide in Rwanda and I happened to glance up at the television as my partner wasbrowsing through the channels. At first I thought I was watching the Saturday Night Liveactors perform a comedy sketch satirizing the rising popularity of increasingly outrageousreality television. However, as I became aware of the program's content and intent, Ibegan to draw parallels between the topic of my term paper and such popularprogramming. I began to wonder how young women (particularly young women livingin disadvantaged circumstances whose lives are most often misrepresented,18 The Swan presents women's tragic stories of social and economic disadvantage and "low self-esteem",tied (somehow) to physical imperfection, as entertainment. The female participants compete (bysubmitting to a battery of surgical procedures, a grueling fitness regime and quick-fix psychotherapy) forentry into a final beauty pageant. True to the obvious allusion in the program's title, the winner of thepageant is the woman most drastically 'transformed' from an "ugly ducking" into a "beautiful swan"(Reality TV World, 02/03/2004). Moreover, personal "happiness" and "self-esteem" are tied to suchtransformations.16sensationalized and pathologized by mass media and for whom the cost of plastic surgeryprohibits its 'reality') might respond to, and make sense of, such a celebratoryconsumption of surgically altered female bodies sold as a means to a particularlygendered brand of "happiness", "empowerment" and "self-esteem". Moreover, as Ithought about media representations of femininity more generally, I began to realize thatsuch strangely Orwellian language was not confined to the ridiculous (and now defunct)program, The Swan. Symbolic representations of needy, tragic young women juxtaposedwith their autonomous and empowered counterparts (or "easily" attainable alter-egos)abound in the marketplaces of mass media and popular culture (see McRobbie, 2004b).And although the means to such an empowered, legitimized happiness is certainly notalways presented as surgical, media which is targeted specifically to young womenreproduces individualistic, perpetual self "reinvention" and empowerment narratives (seeGriffin, 2004; Harris, 2004a, Taft, 2004) which, like trauma narratives, obliterate thesocial conditions out of which such narratives arise.Granted, it would be an enormous stretch to make the claim that proliferate mediarepresentations of normative femininity may be equated with mass murder and genocideand so I must clearly state that I am not attempting to make such a claim. Yet, a centralquestion which had evolved from the term paper was startlingly relevant: how does massmedia contribute to gendered exclusion and exacerbate the conditions of social andeconomic disadvantage within society? Or, to apply Arendtian language, how does massmedia contribute to the creation of the conditions in which human superfluity flourisheswhile collective memory is obliterated, and how might it impact on low income youngwomen living in radically transformed urban cities?17In this section. then, I link such questions to Arendt's concern with thoseconditions which create human superfluity and holes of oblivion (1958/1998. 1963.1971). I will explain how I intend to use conceptualizations of radical thoughtlessness.trauma narratives (ibid.) and symbolic/Masculine domination (Bourdieu. 2001) toexplore the connections between mass media, gender and social exclusion. I believe thatsuch connections constitute what Curtis calls the. " conditions that nourishoblivion on the part of those who benefit [from dominant norms] and the radicalenclaving of those who do not (1999, p. 3). 19Radical Thoughtlessness and the Banality of EvilIt was this absence of thinking — which is so ordinary an experience in our everyday life,where we have hardly the time, let alone the inclination, to stop and think — thatawakened my interest. Is evil-doing (the sins of omission, as well as the sins ofcommission ) possible in default of not just 'base motives' ...but of any motiveswhatever, of any particular prompting of interest or volition? Is wickedness... not anecessary condition for evil-doing?. (Arendt, 1971, p. 4)Arendt notes that the denial of human particularity, the 'distinct but equal' statusof each human life, may be achieved in many ways, not all of them necessarilyintentional (1958/1998, p. 175). Furthermore, she characterizes all human action as beingimbued with the unforeseen, osr the element of surprise. In other words, the ultimateconsequences or results of our daily "insertions" (see also beginnings) into the worldcannot always be predicted: "It is in the nature of beginning that something new is started19 Emphasis added. McRobbie (2004b) offers one clear example of such conditions in the followingpassage:Middle-class women have played a key role in the reproduction of class society, not just throughtheir exemplary role as wives and mothers but also as standard-bearers for middle-class familyvalues, for certain norms of citizenship and also for safeguarding the valuable cultural capitalaccruing to them and their families through access to education, refinement and other privileges.(p.101)18which cannot be expected from whatever may have happened before" (Arendt,1958/1998. pp. 177-178). While such unexpectedness is imbued with inexhaustiveoptimism. or hopefulness 2(), she argues that it also opens the door for a radicalthoughtlessness. The mundane actions of living without thinking provides fertile groundfor "evil" which is neither clearly identifiable nor hegemonic, but rather a phenomenon"impossible to trace" and pervasive throughout all levels of society (1971).Arendt first recognized the "...fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality ofevil" (in Baehr, 2000, p. 365) during the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem and was tolater extend her observation to note that such ordinary iniquity was evidence of a radicalthoughtlessness, frightening in its ubiquitous yet unrecognized presence in the modernworld (1963,1971). Of Eichmann, Arendt's primary example of the banal rather thanexceptional nature of evil, she remarked that:I was struck by a manifest shallowness in the doer [Eichmann] that made itimpossible to trace the uncontestable evil of his deeds to any deeper level of rootsor motives. The deeds were monstrous, but the doer...was quite ordinary,commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous. There was no sign in him offirm ideological convictions or of specific evil motives, and the only notablecharacteristic on could detect...was not stupidity but thoughtlessness. (1971, p. 4)Her observations during Eichmann's trial eventually led Arendt to conclude that"thoughtlessness can wreak more havoc than all the evil instincts taken together" (inBaehr, 2000, p. 379).The import of Arendt's concern with such thoughtlessness is particularly relevantto this investigation when viewed through the conceptual lens of Bourdieu's discussionson masculine domination (2001). Like Arendt, Bourdieu was concerned with the20 Indeed Arendt explains that: "The new always happens against the overwhelming odds of statistical lawsand their probability, which for all practical, everyday purposes amounts to certainty; the new thereforealways appears in the guise of a miracle" [emphasis added] (1958, p. 178).19habituation of thought and so his research both seeks to explain the process of suchhabituation and to turn a critical eye on the political/public and embedded personalreproduction of structural habits of thought (see 1998, 2000. 2001). Bourdieu labelsmasculine domination and its effect, symbolic violence, an "extraordinarily ordinarysocial relation" which is perpetuated through language, daily interactions and,importantly, through symbols of domination which are tied to a gendered social andpolitical history which has been "transformed into nature" (p. 2). The complicatedprocess whereby structural elements of society "inscribe" themselves onto the,"...dispositions attuned to the structure of domination of which they are the product"forms, according to Bourdieu, the basis of symbolic violence (p. 43). It is through theobservation of the transformation of history into 'nature', Bourdieu argues, that we aremade aware of the paradox of doxa (2001). Much like the phenomenon ofthoughtlessness, the paradox of doxa operates such that "relations of domination"proliferate and are perpetuated, in part, because they remain unquestioned, unexposedand, frequently, normalized. In other words, the "most intolerable conditions ofexistence", come to be "perceived as acceptable and even natural" (pp. 1_3).21Accordingly, Bourdieu's 'paradox of doxa' helps to explain why some of themost outspoken supporters of oppressive and historically laden representations of 'ideal'femininity are young women themselves (see Baumgardner & Richards, 2000, 2004 andMcRobbie's critique of such support, 2004a). Moreover, disadvantaged young women's21 Bourdieu's full metaphor of the paradox of doxa is worth quoting in its entirety:I have always been astonished at... the paradox of doxa — the fact that the order of the world as wefind it, with its one-way streets and its no-entry signs, whether literal or figurative, its obligationsand its penalties, is broadly respected; that there are not more transgressions and subversions,contraventions and `follies'...or, still more surprisingly, that the established order, with itsrelations of domination, its right and prerogatives, privileges and injustices, ultimately perpetuatesitself so easily, apart from a few historical accidents, and that the most intolerable conditions ofexistence can so often be perceived as acceptable and even natural. (2001, p. 1)20processes and mechanisms of cultural reproduction and subversion of such mediarepresentations might also be understood through Bourdieu's conceptualization of such aparadox. In other words, Bourdieu explains what might seem to be such young women'scomplicity in reproducing and embodying the symbols of masculine domination as, "thedominated apply[ing] categories constructed from the point of view of the dominant tothe relations of domination, thus making them appear as natural" (p. 35).Thoughtlessness and Doxa in Media and Lived ExperienceWhat I wish to argue here is that ultimately, and perhaps not surprisingly,thoughtlessness (Arendt, 1971) and the paradox of doxa (Bourdieu, 2001) are deeplymanifest in popular culture and in the marketplaces of contemporary mass media. Mediafrequently acts as a primary contributor to the largely uncritical reproduction anddissemination of gendered cultural symbols whose historical roots are either veiled orcompletely concealed (see Bourdieu, 1998, 2001). Society's default acceptance of suchsuppression is part of the "doxic experience of the social world" (Bourdieu, 2001, p. 9).Doxic structures go largely unnoticed and unexamined because they form societalconceptions of what is `normal'; they are elements of our social world which haveremained static (or have altered only on the surface) despite the passing of generations(see Bourdieu, 1998, 2001). To be clear, I am not suggesting that individuals generally,or individual young women specifically, do not ever question, challenge or resistdominant media representations of ideal (deviant) femininity. Rather, I am arguing,following Bourdieu (1998, 2001), that taken as a whole, mass media and dominantculture is still tied to the division between public and private, and the gendered21symbolism tied to such divisions and symbolically embedded within mediarepresentations of femininity, is part of a normalized historical and cultural "inheritance"(Bourdieu, 2001). Bourdieu (1998) criticizes such media constructions of the 'natural'.or the common', as being neither natural nor common in the sense that they somehowexist outside of a history of human constructs, consciously or unconsciously created andperpetuated. He argues that that which is un-reflexively accepted as 'normal' or the`status quo' within society remains unexamined, other than from the dominant ideologyof the time, and is therefore allowed to perpetuate through time.Bourdieu's argument is grounded in his notion of habitus, a practical and deeplyunconscious knowledge of the body, characteristic to all humans and which incorporatesthe,systems of schemes of perception, appreciation and action [that] enable [social agents]to perform acts of practical knowledge, based on the identification and recognition ofconditional, conventional stimuli to which they are predisposed to react; and, withoutany explicit definition of ends or rational calculation of means, to generate appropriateand endlessly renewed strategies, but within the limits of the structural constraints ofwhich they are the product and which define them. (2000, p. 138)The concept of habitus recognizes that the, " order [literally] inscribes itself inbodies" through, "...the ordinary order of things...imposed by the material conditions ofexistence..." (2000, p. 141). Such an understanding of "bodily knowledge" extends toaccount for the reproduction of stratified social and material conditions (through theprocesses of symbolic domination) and to a theory of constrained agency, which accountsfor the subversion of dominant structures.Bourdieu theorizes that through the processes of symbolic domination all humansparticipate, to varying degrees, in the production and reproduction of the exclusionarycategorization of normal which touches all aspects of our social world. Such norms22become so pervasive, in the structures of society and the symbols carried on our bodies,that we are largely unaware of them working through us. These symbols are contextual;that is to say. they embody a history. So. while their meaning is static. their symbolicmanifestations may change, creating the illusion of change while the familiar pattern oroppressive meaning remains the same. Domination, then. is not reproduced and imposedfrom within one, hegemonic source (Bourdieu, 2001). Through symbolic dominationeach of us embodies oppression, manifested through symbols which represent thelocation of cultural, social and economic capital in any given time-period, in any givensociety (Bourdieu, 2001). Therefore, we all perform domination, to varying degrees, inour daily performances of culture (Dillabough, 2003/2004, course notes).Media representations of femininities participate in the reproduction of theconditions in which constructions of female identity are circulated as symbolic goods orsymbolic capital within society (Bourdieu, 2001, p. 45). Paradoxically, it is precisely theenormous volume of such representations which dulls their import. We are a societyinured to the sexualized, fetishized and pathologized. This is what (Arendt, 1958/1998)refers to as the characteristic 'what' of femininity, rather than an "account of anunfolding who in the face of time" (Dillabough, 2008, forthcoming). In the myriad ofmagazine, television, bus stop poster and billboard representations of femininity we findno evidence of the distinct and equal 'who' (Arendt, 1958/1998) of each young woman.In fact we are hard pressed to distinguish one young woman from the next, especiallywhen much of contemporary media offers up digitally and surgically altered 'models' offemininity as commodified 'norms'. And it is through such a simultaneous lack ofrecognition together with our subliminal consumption of commodified symbolic violence23(Bourdieu, 2001) that the superfluousness of femininity in general flourishes undetected.Thus mass media's complicity in veiling the history of symbolic representations ofgirlhood might be understood as what Arendt describes as. ...tradition...reveal[ing] itsfull coercive force only after its end has come and men [sic] no longer even rebel againstit" (1971, p. 19).Veiling History through Narratives of Trauma and TriumphLate-twentieth-century America is a "wound culture" marked by "the public fascinationwith torn and open bodies and torn and opened persons, a collective gathering aroundshock, trauma, and the wound. (Seltzer in Nelson, 2006, p.88)While Seltzer is documenting the distinctly liberal/modern (and Western)absorption with the public consumption of 'woundedness' or human tragedy, Nelsonmoves on to note the paradox inherent within such a fascination:On the other hand, postmodern culture has exhibited the well known "waning ofaffect" described by Fredric Jameson...(1991). We are left, then, with twoextremes, one where pain supplies an overabundance of meaning or stimulationand the other where it fails to produce any affective response at all. (2006, p. 88)Labelling such conditions the, "shakey ground between saturation and denial", Nelsonmoves on to explore McCarthy and Arendt's unique response to the fascination withtrauma (ibid.). Most relevant to this investigation is McCarthy's observation of the"slightly canned-tasting misery" in the media stories of modernity (in Nelson, 2006, p.97). Such mass produced narratives create a false intimacy between the viewer and thesubjects of such narratives and lead to the paradox of public trauma, enthrallment, andoblivion. As Nelson explains, neither McCarthy nor Arendt was interested in the liberalproject of coming "face-to-face with the Other" which is implicit within the publicconsumption of trauma narratives. They were concerned, rather, with, "...a24countertradition of ethical relation, one that come face-to-face with reality inthe presence of others' - (2006, p. 88).Arendt was particularly clear in her emphasis on the necessity of a certain'separateness in the public world and abhorred the cultivation of such pseudo intimacy.Her dislike, however, was not personal but political. As with her observations on thebanality of evil. Arendt first offered a critique of the dangers of using victim traumanarratives, particularly in a theatre of justice, during the trial of Eichmann in Jerusalem(1963). The thrust of Arendt's argument is that in cultivating the mass consumption ofhistorically disconnected trauma narratives (which position people within rigidcategorizations of good or evil, victim or perpetrator, heroic or fearful etc.) for anypurpose (including and especially, I would argue, for entertainment) we thoughtlesslyretreat to the anesthetized comfort of oblivion, deny human particularity and create acommunity of victims who are not grounded in a context; in a history (Arendt, 1963).The existence of such thoughtless or unconscious mindlessness is the key tounderstanding how the "complacent repetition of 'truths' which have become trivial andempty" (1958/1998, p.5) perpetuates in popular ideology and through popular media. Iwould argue that pertinent examples of such 'truths' include popular conflations of girlpower and agency, individualism and freedom or perpetual reinvention of the self andhappiness.Crucial to an understanding Arendt's criticism of modernity's fascination with thepublic consumption of stories of suffering and victimhood is her juxtaposition of suchstories with the original function of ancient Greek theatre. Therefore, I first describe theorigins of Arendt's conceptualization of the importance of the Greek theatre to ethical25political engagements and then compare her understanding to the way gendered'tragedies - are produced in contemporary media. Arendt's invocation of Greek tragicdrama is tied directly to her unique phenomenological perspective on the meaninginherent to human action and to such action appearing amongst a plurality of spectators.In the tradition of Greek dramatic tragedy empathy is built through dramatic elements ofpathos and tragos and is fashioned through a catharsis, or. what Arendt called the"reconciliation with reality" between the audience and the narrative (1954/2006, p. 45).Pirro (2001) notes that, for Arendt, "...the achievement of emotional mastery in theatrecontributes to the achievement of political efficacy..." (p. 133). A relevant passage fromPirro's discussion of the importance of Greek tragic drama to an Arendtian notion ofethical politics clearly illustrates this point:It is the combination of Greek tragedy's imitation of the stories that arise fromaction in the plurality of human affairs and its conveyance of the intangibleidentities of individual characters through stage acting that establishes 'the political art par excellence'. Only in theater...'is the politicalsphere of human life transposed into art' (2001, p. 134)22Note Arendt's observation that, "[w]e may the poet's political function theoperation of catharsis, a cleansing or purging of all emotions that could prevent men fromacting" (Arendt in Pirro, 2001, p. 133). Furthermore, Arendt cites Aristotle's discussionof the political relevance of tragic drama to argue that, "...tragedy does not deal with thequalities of men [sic] but with whatever happened with respect to them, with their actionsand life and good or ill fortune (see Poetics, 1450a15-18). The content of tragedy,therefore, is not what we would call character but action or the plot" (1958, p. 187, fn12).Through the revelation of 'action' and 'plot', elements of constraint within society aremeant to be revealed through the unfolding of the dramatic narrative so that audiences22 Arendt's words within this passage are taken from The Human Condition (1958, p.188).26might gain a grounded and therefore meaningful understanding of the unfolding dramatictragedy and, by extension, of their own social positioning.In contrast, much contemporary popular media perpetuates individual and deeplygendered and classed narratives and representations of personal trauma (e.g., - low self-esteem"; difficulty attracting, or maintaining a relationship with, a male partner; beingunfashionable or unfeminine or not (never) beautiful enough; or as -disgusting or"lacking" (see Lawler, 2005a, 2005b; Skeggs, 2005)). Moreover, the equallyindividualized stories and representations of triumph which always attend such narrativesare attributed to a young woman's socially decontextualized and gender-specifictranscendence out of such personal trauma. 23 Such stories and representations areprolific, easily forgotten and often offered as no more than an advertising sound bite. Assuch, they are essentially disposable and serve only as crude entertainment whichconceals more than it reveals about the mechanisms of domination and oppression whichpersist throughout the social world (see Bourdieu, 2001).To illustrate this point I will briefly revisit the particular case of The Swan, itsdescendents (see Extreme Makeover) and other television programming which nowroutinely offers up stories of personal trauma to the commercial alters of theentertainment marketplace (see Oprah, America's Next Top Model, What Not to Wear,Survivor, American Idol and so on). Though not all of such television programming istargeted to teenage women, the media trend which feeds what Seltzer (in Nelson, 2006)describes as our modern 'wound culture' and its hunger for endless stories of personal23 For example, a young woman might "choose" to be happy by reinventing herself through fashion,makeup, personal relationships (see Teen People, 2005; Elle Girl, 2005) or by following "simple" steps toattitude adjustment and empowerment offered by pop-psychology or so-called self-help literature (seeRimke, 2002).27trauma is both dominant and ubiquitous (in Nelson, 2006, p. 88). Thus the essentialsignifiers of such narratives can be found in the stories. articles, quizzes and advertisingof gendered youth media. Moreover, I argue that regardless of whether (or not)disadvantaged young women watch a particular program or read a particular magazinethey must contend with the effects of the public consumption of gendered trauma andtriumph narratives because they are embedded in the world and the symbolic structures ofthe world are thus inscribed within them (see Arendt, 1958/1998; Bourdieu, 2000, 2001).And so, if we compare such media to Arendt's discussion of the purpose and benefit ofcatharsis through the publicly shared 'plot' of a narrative we might see that rather than"purging" those "emotions which prevent men [sic] from acting", the 'dramas' played outin so-called reality and talk show television (see examples listed above) focus on creatingpseudo-empathy with a seemingly interchangeable individual who is portrayed as havingtriumphed over personal suffering through her achievement of the current feminine idealsof beauty, confidence and a gendered version of empowered independence. Viewers areencouraged to either celebrate with individuals striving to achieve an ideal orcommiserate with those whose momentum toward perfection has been impeded bypersonal setbacks. To further complicate (or, more to the point, obscure) matters,dominant neo-liberal ideology depicts critiques of this form of entertainment as arestriction or criticism of a woman's free choice to participate in projects of perpetualself-improvement which, we are given to understand, endows her with both self-esteemand a higher social standing (see Griffin, 2004; McRobbie, 2004a).Building on the Arendtian theory described in this chapter, I argue that becausetrauma and triumph narratives are so proliferate, and ultimately so meaningless and28absurd, they offer no "reconciliation with reality" (Arendt, 1954/2006). We internalizesuch narratives and the sound bite discourse of such narratives without thinking,reproducing oppressive elements inherent within representations of femininity.Ultimately, the throwaway quality attributed to such decontextualized, individualrepresentations nourishes a "radical world-alienation" in which, ", wherever hegoes, encounters only himself [sic]"(Arendt. 1954/2006, p. 88). In other words, eachdisconnected narrative necessarily lacks a spectator; and therefore fails to offer the,"completion that takes place through evoked memory" (Kristeva on Arendt, 2001, p. 16)in a shared "web of relationships" (Arendt, 1958/1998, p. 181). Such media generatedand commodified stories remain disconnected from a contextualized history and, to useArendt's language, "...have no more meaning than is revealed in the finished product anddoes not intend to show more than is plainly visible at the end of the production process"(p. 180). Ultimately, such narratives become "seductive and paralyzing" (Dillabough,2004, course notes) creating holes of oblivion (Arendt, 1971) which obscure the largersocial structures and forces determining women's and young woman's social positioning.Consequently, the real existence of tragic social circumstances for entire communities islargely negated. 24 Moreover, decontextualized individual triumphs over personal tragedyare lauded as an attainable reality which all women ought to emulate. The implicitmessage that individual effort which follows deeply gendered formulas for selfimprovement and empowerment is the ideal solution to disadvantaged circumstancesbecomes ingrained within the habitus (Bourdieu, 2000).24 A phenomenon that Bourdieu identifies as the, "xenophobic discourse, which...has been working togenerate hatred out of the misfortunes of society — unemployment, delinquency, drug abuse..." (1998,p.16).29Thus, on one level and from an Arendtian perspective, such media can become atrap wherein action can be perpetually preempted by overwhelming (and illusory)emotional intimacy. In addition, popular critique of such media's treatment of femininityand of its effects on young women is complicated by gendered discourses ofempowerment which rest on positioning young women as powerful agents of choice in acommodified world who must empower and improve themselves in response to structuralinequalities (see Gonick, 2006; Griffin, 2004; Harris, 2004a; McRobbie, 2004a).Because of the popular dominance of such problematic framings of gendered agency itbecomes imperative for researchers to define their own understanding of the tensions andrelationship between young women's actions and experiences and the social, structuraland symbolically embedded "relations of domination" which operate within the world(see Bourdieu, 2001). Furthermore, if I aim to critique media proliferated 'relations ofdomination' on the grounds that their enduring but mutable presence in the lives ofeconomically disadvantaged young women contribute to the "externalization of thestructures of exclusion" (Bourdieu, 2001, p. viii), and thus to the closing off of publicspaces of appearance to such young women (Arendt, 1958/1998), then I must offer atheoretical framing of my own understanding of action in public space. In the followingsection I explore theories of action (Arendt, 1958) and generative agency (see Bourdieu,1997/2000; McNay, 2000) through which I frame and account for young women'sexperiences in the world and with which I critique the structures and processes thatconstraint their experiences.30Theories of Creative ActionIt is in the nature of beginning that something new is started which cannot be expectedfrom whatever may have happened before. This character of startling unexpectedness isinherent in all beginnings and in all origins.F...]With the creation of man [sic], the principle of beginning came into the world itself,which, of course, is only another way of saying that the principle of freedom was createdwhen man [sic] was created but not before. (Arendt, 1958/1998, pp. 176-178)On one level this thesis is concerned with how mass media representations ofideal (deviant) femininity might contribute to collective thoughtlessness (Arendt,1958/1998) and to "world alienation" which is indicative of what Arendt calls the"atrophy of the space of appearance" (p. 209). On a second level, I seek to understandhow young women living in economically disadvantaged circumstances (in other words,young women who already experience marginalization within a society framed by neo-liberal ideologies of economic citizenship and middle-class notions and values of"normal") reconcile such media in relation to their own experiences of exclusion. In thefollowing pages I outline the theoretical thinking which gives shape to my ownunderstanding of action in public space. I begin with an excerpt from McNay's criticaland theoretical engagement with Bourdieusian theories of "gender, subjectification andagency" (2000).McNay (2000) begins her discussion on Gender, Subjectification and Agency withthe observation that,one of the most pronounced effects of [...] macrostructural tendencies towardsdetraditionalization is the transformation of the social status of women in the lastforty years and the restructuring of gender relations that it has arguably initiated.The effects of these processes of gender restructuring upon the lives of men andwomen are ambiguous in that they do not straightforwardly reinforce old forms ofgender inequality; nor, however, can their detraditionalizing impact be regardedas wholly emancipatory. New forms of autonomy and constraint can be seen31emerging which can no longer be understood through dichotomies of maledomination and female subordination. (p. 1)With McNay - s account of the changed and changing nature of gender relations (and thusnotions of female 'agency in the many spaces of such a 'restructured' society) in mind. Ibegin this section with a series of questions. How do we conceive of a theoretical spacewhich allows for what Arendt calls the 'startling unexpectedness' of human action andwhere disadvantaged young women are not constructed as passive victims of normativeand hegemonic ideals of femininity 'imposed' upon them by mass media? A space wherewe might avoid reproducing our society's contemporary neo-liberal focus on hyper-individualism which conceals the oppressive and repetitive aspects of dominant socialstructures and closes off our common spaces of appearance? And finally, a space whereyoung women's experiences in difficult and disadvantaged circumstances might beacknowledged and taken into account without conflating the characteristics of suchcircumstances with the revelatory Who of each young woman (see Arendt, 1958)?An ethical beginning might be to borrow from theorists whose notions of humanaction account for pre-existing constraints inherent within the stratified social order whileat the same time positing space in which action to shift such constraints and creativelyalter the meanings of representations of dominant ideals can occur within a particularcultural context (see Bourdieu, 2000, 2001; McNay, 2000, 2003; Willis, 1990, 2004).Moreover, framing such theories from an Arendtian perspective shifts the terms ofdiscussion from what Arendt might have identified as the trap of gendered identitypolitics (which can immobilize action through a focus on the What traits of individuals)to a commitment to "representative thinking" (see the discussion of visiting offeredearlier in this chapter) (Dillabough, 2006, course notes). In other words, I would posit an32interdisciplinary analytical lens (unified and guided by Arendtian philosophy) throughwhich disadvantaged young women's narratives are positioned within an "unfolding","changing" and "moblile social narrative" (ibid.).I began this section with a quote from McNay because her discussions of"generative agency" (2000) reflect what Arendt (1958/1998, 1971) identifies as the"hopeful", "unexpected" and contingent qualities of human appearances in the world.There is a dialectical quality to McNay's notion of a "durable" self which neverthelessnever ceases to change, in part, through encountering the other within its sociallycontingent time and place:Through the temporalization of the process of subjectification, the generativemodel suggests that the self has unity but it is the dynamic unity of progress intime. In other words, the identity of the self is maintained only through aceaseless incorporation of the non-identical understood as temporal flux. (p. 19)Thus, building on Bourdieu's notion of habitus (see 2000, 2001), McNay posits agenerative notion of agency situated between possibility and constraint wherein, throughcreative action, individuals form coherent and "durable but not immutable" genderedidentities (2000, pp. 21-23). McNay's theories recognize the "deeply sedimented" andhistorically rooted nature of the reproduction of oppression while offering an explanationfor how, "...when faced with complexity and difference, individuals may respond inunanticipated and innovative ways which hinder, reinforce or catalyse social change"(2000, p. 5). Thus, McNay frames agency in a "generative paradigm" which allows for"a creative dimension to action [that] is the condition of possibility of certain types ofautonomous agency understood as the ability to act in an unexpected fashion or toinstitute new and unanticipated modes of behaviour" (pp. 22-23). Such a perspective33thus allows for a recognition of the enduring and shifting nature of the "relations ofdomination which intersect with economically disadvantaged young women' sexperiences in the world while also leaving space for identifying such young women'sagentic resistance to or "appropriation" of (Willis, 2003) dominant constructions offemale subjectivities.• As previously noted, McNay's understanding of the contingent, constrained andgenerative properties of agency is, however, built on Bourdieu's broad explanation ofhuman action as embedded within a social world. She builds upon Bourdieu ' sidentification of the "generative process", constitutive in action, to form a theory ofagency which focuses less on the aspects of domination that have been retained ingenerative actions of individuals, and with more emphasis on, " individuals areendowed with the capabilities for independent reflection and action..." (2000, p. 3).Consequently, the theory of constrained agency used in this investigation owes much ofits construction to Bourdieu's conceptualizations of individuals in society.I begin with Bourdieu's assertion that we literally embody the dominant structuresof what I previously referred to as Arendt's 'world stage'. We act, he notes, in a constanttension between stasis and change, and in predominantly unconscious ways, to bothreproduce and subvert the static scaffolding of the 'stage' (2000, 2001). Labelling theconditions of such embodiment our habitus, Bourdieu grounds notions of human agencyin a constrained but not determined existence. He argues that inherent to the condition ofhabitus is the notion that in living our culture we both reproduce the static structuralorder and also change it (cultural production). Thus a sense of mutability is attached toall notions of action. The changing of our world through cultural production is effected34through our engagement in a process of symbolic subversion (2001). Given the operationof habitus, symbolic subversion is not understood as a necessarily conscious act, thoughtor symbolic embodiment. It is instead an understanding of agency which combines bothreproduction and subversion of dominance through the processes of cultural production.In Bourdieu's words, symbolic subversion describes the constrained human agencywhich both embodies. "...a generating, unifying, constructing, classifying power" and,recall[s] that this capacity to construct social reality, itself socially constructed, isnot that of a transcendental subject but of a socialized body, investing in itspractice socially constructed organizing principles that are acquired in the courseof a situated and dated social experience. (2000, pp. 136-137)A similar notion of constrained and not entirely conscious subversion of dominantsocial structures is put forward in Paul Willis' classic study of youth culture, Learning toLabor: how working class kids get working class jobs (1977), and in his reflections on itsrelevance in the contemporary moment (1990, 2003, 2004). Willis offers aphenomenological understanding of human action in a stratified social world that isunique to an exploration of the meaning making practices in youth cultures and to theirrelationship with mass media. For Willis, any notion of human action must be firmlysituated in the tension between culture and structure (1990). Unlike Bourdieu's broadand interdisciplinary oeuvre, much of Willis' work focuses specifically on youth culturesand their mechanisms of rebellion against (and reproduction of) dominant socialstructures. He notes that although, "...young people respond [to dominant structures] indisorganized and chaotic ways", they are also responding, "...with relevance to the actualpossibilities of their lives as they see, live, and embody them" (2003, p. 391). Moreover,Willis (2004) notes that, "the whole point of [going to the field] is to try to understandhow particular subjects are making sense of themselves and their situations in ways that35cannot be prefigured and that might 'surprise' you (p. 173). Willis' observation lendssupport to Arendt's focus on the `'revelatory", unpredictable (in terms of outcome) andcontingent character of action and appearance (see 1958. 1971) and of the necessity ofgrounding theories about such action in material experience (1954/2006). AlthoughWillis - original study of youth culture has been criticized for its primary focus on maleyouth (see McRobbie, 1980 in Willis, 1977/1981) his notion of .symbolic crealivilv (1990)is not inherently gendered and is applicable to a study which seeks to understand howdisadvantaged young women might respond to media representations of ideal femininityin unexpected and creative ways.The concept of symbolic creativity (Willis, 1990) documents the "expressivemechanisms" in which youth engage as a means to address the imbalance of powerwithin society (Dillabough, 2004/2005, course notes). Through the consumption ofsymbolic elements of material popular culture, reproduced through contemporary media,youth create mutable and contested cultural identities that serve to make meaning withinthe world. Specifically, Willis describes such appropriation of symbols from thedominant culture as, "...the processes and activities whereby human beings actively andcreatively take up the objects and symbols around them for their own situated purposes ofmeaning-making" (2003, p.). Implicit within the concept of symbolic creativity is theidea that any notion of "agency" must be tied to the mundane actions of daily living.Willis (1990) argues that, "...there is a 'grounded aesthetics' in everyday practicewhereby meanings are attributed to symbols and artifacts, now mostly commodities, increative ways that produce new orders of symbolic meaning" (p. 402). Thus consumptionbecomes part of the production of a unique youth culture engaged in a dynamic and36dialectical relationship within dominant sociological constraints (Willis, 1990, p. 20).Similarly. we may understand the reflection of media representations of ideal femininityin young women's assertions of identity as both changing and reproducing such ideals,within the broader context of constraint, in an attempt to. " something abouttheir actual or potential cultural significance" (1990, p.1).While the recognition of both constraint and the idea that we are not necessarilyaware of the full meaning inherent in our beginnings (Arendt, 1958), symbolic andgenerative subversions (Bourdieu, 2001; McNay, 2000) or our generative appropriationof popular culture symbolism (Willis, 1990, 2003) is common to Arendt, Bourdieu,McNay and Willis, Arendt's conceptualization of action also offers a unique combinationof unbounded optimism and grave warning about socially cultivated thoughtlessness or"evil" (Canovan, 1998/1958). Moreover, questions of disadvantaged young women's"complicity" in reproducing the symbolism and structure of their own domination and"participating" in the relations of (masculine) domination (see Bourdieu, 2001) might bereframed from Arendt's perspective on the inherently unpredictable nature of action(1958). In other words, and to use Arendt's own phrasing,in any series of events that together form a story with a unique meaning we can atbest isolate the agent who set the whole process into motion; and although thisagent frequently remains the subject, the 'hero' of the story, we never can pointunequivocally to him [sic] as the author of its eventual outcome. (1958/1998,p.185)For Arendt, then, identification of "complicity" must be framed as a social or universalcondition of humanity which ought to spur us to think about larger examples of collectivethoughtlessness. Thus, Canovan (1998/1958) notes that although a large body of Arendt'swork reflects on the, "self-inflicted catastrophes" brought on by our lack of awareness37and our thoughtlessness in regard to the possible consequences of our actions" (p. xvi),Arendt asserts that we are not mere victims of necessity, that we can act in surprising andgenerative ways and that. ultimately. [a]ction is, in fact, the one miracle-working facultyof man [sic]'' (1958/1998, p. 246). In other words, we create our world anew with eachpublic action and it is only through such public action that we might understand freedom.It is on the grounds of an Arendtian definition of freedom and public action that Icritique popular media representations of ideally empowered, reinventing and consumingfemininities which, as Griffin (2004) notes, "operate to render the girl herself as animpossible subject" and stand in the way of economically disadvantaged young women'saccess to more public, political and inclusive subjectivities (p. 42). Kohn (2000) notesthat in Arendtian philosophy "...freedom, as the great and identifying gift of humanexistence, is manifest in the activities that distinguish human from other forms of life" (p.115). This is not illusionary "Freedom" as defined by a neo-liberal ideology whichserves, ultimately, to reproduce the stratified social order, but rather the freedomglimpsed when we engage in public life (see earlier discussion of Arendtian notions ofthe public). Therefore freedom cannot exist in individual isolation. Nor does it manifestin liberal identity claims. Indeed, an Arendtian argument would critique gendered liberalprojects of self-improvement (through avenues of consumer choice), self-esteem and self-empowerment (which underpin representations of ideal (deviant) femininity) on the basisthat such assertions of "free agency" are rooted in fallacious constructions of fixedindividual identities. Furthermore, such gendered projects of "reinvention" (see Harris,2004a) are private pursuits which occur outside of a political engagement within thepublic realm. And for Arendt, freedom through action manifests solely in the agonistic38"web of relationships" (1958/1998) and is always tied to a constrained social existence(1954/2006).Summary of ChaptersChapter One: Introduction and Theoretical GroundingIn chapter one I situate this investigation within the emerging field of girls'studies and describe my own intentions in terms of an approach to further contribution tothe field. I then present the central research questions which direct this investigation (andground them in a brief philosophical and methodological orientation). I then move on todescribe the interdisciplinary theoretical lens through which I will analyse both theinterview and the media data. Finally, I conclude with a summary of the content of thechapters to follow.Chapter Two: Literature ReviewChapter two offers a review of recent girls' studies literature. In this chapter Ireview the field in which I will position my own contribution to girls' studies scholarship.In a desire to engage in Arendtian "habits of thinking" (Young-Bruehl, 2006, p.10) I lookto past, present and (suggested) future scholarship to understand how we haveinterrogated, how we do interrogate and how we might best interrogate mass mediarepresentations of femininity in the context of exploring disadvantaged young women's"reconciliations" of such media within their everyday experiences (Arendt, 1954/2006).As such, I begin this chapter with a brief description of the second and third wavefeminist roots of girls' studies. I then move forward to review the most recent literaturewhich explores the intersections between young women and popular narratives of39empowerment and reinvention (see Gonick, 2006; Griffin, 2004; Harris, 2004a, Taft.2004): young women, media constructions of femininity and consumption; and, femaleyouth subjectivity and social class.Chapter Three: MethodologyIn chapter three I describe the methodological approach and its epistemologicalcontext which I intend to employ throughout this investigation. I begin with aclarification of the philosophical terms and concepts used to support my methods. I thenoffer a description of the Arendtian phenomenological and hermeneutical approach toresearch and analysis which guides this thesis. Finally, I move forward to describeWalter Benjamin's montage historiography and its specific application in presenting mymedia research and analysis in chapter four. In the final section of this chapter I firstoutline the methods of data collection used and then contextualize the investigation interms of both the social/physical location of the respondents and the range and historicallocation of documents selected for this research.Chapter Four: An iconography of exclusion: "Masculine domination", mass mediaand montage (see Bourdieu, 2001; Benjamin in Buck-Morss, 1989)In chapter four I adapt and apply Benjamin's montage technique to an explorationof the long history of contemporary media representations of ideal (deviant) femininity.Although, to some extent, this chapter stands alone in terms of style and method it hasboth a reflexive and a contextual purpose (see Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992; Arendt,1954/2006). Therefore, I justify such a break from a traditional style of analysis on thegrounds that the montage chapter represents an attempt to follow Goodman's lead inadapting Benjamin's montage historiography so that images, text and analysis might be40juxtaposed in such a way as to awaken "flashes" of recognition, memory and insight(2003).My argument for the necessity of such a chapter is based in two related lines ofthought. First, and as McRobbie (2005) notes, mass media is popularly positioned as ahighly disposable form of (consequently harmless) entertainment. Moreover, popularculture and popular media recursively and paradoxically reinforces the notion thatcontemporary young women are both free from the constraints of and savvy to themanipulative messages of media representations of objectified femininity. Thus thesecond point in my argument is based in theory which recognizes the embeddedness ofindividuals in a social world and which therefore insists on methods of analysis which, tosome degree, might enable a purposeful "alienation" (Arendt, n.d. from Action and thePursuit of Happiness [APH] 26, pp. 2-3) or "reflexivity" (Bourdieu and Wacquant. 1992)of the mind from the normalizing/socializing effects of socio-cultural submersion. Insaying this I do not suggest that my analysis (or my readers') can in any way transcendthe "inscribed" "habits and dispositions" of the habitus (see Bourdieu, 2000). Rather Iinterpret alienation and reflexivity as the result of a purposeful jarring of the mind (seeGoodman on the uses of montage, 2003, p. 159) which, in specific reference to chapterfour, I hope to effect through Benjamin's unique methodology.25 Calling such flashes "a pedagogical moment of awakening" Goodman (2003) describes her adaptation ofBenjamin's method and its unique and analytically significant application as follows:I 'brush' theory and historical data against each other for the spark to ignite my understanding in anon-linear process that circles back and forth between data, historiography and theory. (p. 159)26 In The Hannah Arendt Papers at the Library of Congress [HAPLC] (1923-1975) Essays and lectures---"Foreign Affairs in the Foreign Language Press," essay---n.d. (Series: Speeches and Writings File, 1923-1975, n.d.).41Chapter Five: Young Women's "Reconciliations" of Ideal (Deviant) Femininity inCircumstances of Economic DisadvantageIn chapter five. I will present an analysis of the expressed positioning and culturalpractices (see Bourdieu, 2001; Willis, 1990) of young women living in disadvantagedcircumstances in a large, urban centre in Canada in relation to their engagement withcontemporary media representations of ideal (deviant) femininity. Using the theoreticalframework outlined in chapter one. I will explore: how tensions between culture andstructure (i.e., the material realities of girls' everyday lives) are negotiated by these youngwomen; their accounts of how they reconcile (Arendt, 1954/2006) dominant notions ofideal and deviant femininity; and their resistance to and reproduction of thesymbolic/masculine domination embedded within popular female subjectivities inrelation to their "appropriation" of such symbols of media culture in their assertions of an"identity" of "cultural significance" (Willis, 1990, 2003).Chapter Six: ConclusionThe final chapter of this thesis project will be devoted to exploring both the globaland specific ethical ramifications of the proliferation of media representations of ideal(deviant) femininity and their specific relevance in the lives of young women whoalready experience exclusion because of their constrained access to social, economic and(popular) cultural capital. I follow an Arendtian line of argument which suggests that theproliferation of such gendered, dehistoricized, doxic (and toxic) media contributes to theconditions which nourish societal apathy toward the reproduction of gendered forms ofsocial and economic exclusion. I contend that such a collective apathy is, moreover, aform of dehumanization. In other words, and from a public and political perspective,42such apathy tacitly approves of the thriving and expansion of what Arendt calls holes ofoblivion though which the public recognition of human particularity is either erased orignored (see Curtis. 1999). Finally, beside such a global critique I explore the inherent,ever-present spark of possibility which is embodied within and tentatively revealedthrough the actions, appearances and insertions of the six young women who participatedin this research. With these arguments in mind, I will consider possible ways and meansthrough which social institutions (public schools, media, academia) which traditionallyreproduce dominant ideology, might create spaces for an ethical (and evolving) critiqueof the exclusionary effects of representations of ideal femininities. Following Arendt, Iimagine that in such spaces of evolving and adapting critique the diverse and mutablenature of humanity might be recognized in a public and political sense. And so we mightbegin to see a way to answer the challenge that Curtis has thrown down: "how to savehuman particularity, how to create a world in which it can appear and flourish, how tocultivate our passion for it" (1999, p.7).43Chapter TwoLITERATURE REVIEWIntroductionIn this chapter I review the research and arguments which support, critique andseek to complicate the associations between young women, popular culture. mass mediaand consumption. Specifically, I begin this chapter with a brief examination of the rise ofgirls' studies within what has come to be called feminism's 'third wave'. 27 I payparticular attention to how early work in this emerging field theorized and constructednotions of young women's relationship with popular representations of femininity withinthe media in terms of their identification (or not) as feminists. I then move forward tofocus more specifically on contemporary girls' studies literature which examines therelational links between young women, popular culture, mass media and the subjectivitiesavailable to young women in the contemporary moment. In particular, I focus on studieswhich interrogate the most popular phenomena of girl power28 and the reinvention of the(female) self (see Gonick, 2006; Griffin, 2004; Harris, 2004; McRobbie, 2004a, 2005)predominating within contemporary media depictions of ideal femininity. I examineresearch which looks at the links between young women, consumption and essentialized,27 While my intent is not to wade deeply into the turbulent waters of "third wave" versus "second wave"feminist debates, I believe it is important to provide a summary discussion of third wave feminism in orderto contextualize the girls' studies scholarship which I review here.28 The advent in the mid nineties of the British pop group The Spice Girls made girl power synonymouswith a highly commercial, sexualized and fetishized version of "empowered" femininity (see Gonick, 2006;Jackson, 2006). Though all were adults (if young adults), each woman embodied "girliness" and "fun"femininity (see Baumgardner & Richards, 2004) and the characters of each "Spice Girl" represented asexualized fetishization of stark stereotypes of young femininity: Baby Spice (blonde ponytails and a"sweet nature"), Posh Spice (White, middle-class and aloof), Scary Spice (Black and outspoken), SportySpice (the least attractive "girl"), Ginger Spice ("fiery", red haired and hyper-sexual). Dibben notes that inaddition to such stark fetishizing of femininity, "a particular story is being told about the acceptability ofdifferent types of femininity according to class and race" (1999, p. 345 in Griffin, 2004, p. 34).44fetishized and sexualized representations of young women's bodies. I focus in particularon the work of those scholars who seek to interrogate the classed and racialised nature ofsuch links (see Griffin. 2004; Levy, 2005; McLeod, 1998, 2003; McRobbie, 2004a, 2005;Reay, 2001; Skeggs, 1997, 2005; Weekes, 2004). Finally I explore research which offersa strong theoretical approach to examining the intersections between popularrepresentations of ideal (and deviant) femininity, social and economic disadvantage andfemale youth subjectivity (see Bullen & Kenway, 2004; Griffin, 2004; McRobbie, 2004a,Skeggs, 2005).The Roots of Girls' StudiesIn the preface to her 1997 publication of The Beauty Myth Naomi Wolf observesthat the beginning of the 1990s marked a "renewed conversation about feminism" whicharose largely in connection to "mass culture" and the associated media dissemination ofrepresentations of young women (p.3). Such a 'renewed conversation' implies somehistorical context. It therefore becomes necessary to review, and acknowledge, thehistorical and social context of those concerns taken up in feminist scholarship since suchnew conversations began. Thus, I begin this chapter with what is really a very briefreview of the origins of third wave feminist scholarship and girls' studies place withinsuch works.Wolf and many others note (see Gonick, 2006; Rasmusson, 2004) that the early1990s marks the generally accepted inception of the third wave 29 of the twentieth29 Though the designation 'third wave' is most frequently used in connection with American feministscholarship, its inception date (early 1990s) and its strong ties to popular culture, mass media and concernsabout female youth subjectivities in relation to consumption of media and cultural/racial/economicdiversity etc. are common to the 'renewed conversation' amongst feminist/youth cultural/social scholars in45century's women's movement. In the eighteen years which followed, third wave feministscholars have created a rich and vastly disparate body of literature which seeks to both"work with" and "talk back" to the work of feminists in the first and second waves(Rasmusson. 2004, p. 429). It is perhaps most important to note that the goals whichdefine third wave feminism are far more diverse and difficult to reconcile than those ofits earlier counterparts. Heywood and Drake (1997) contend that this is because "thirdwave feminisms are shaped by intersections of contemporary socio-political forces" and,consequently, contemporary feminist scholars must tackle an increasingly complex,"media saturated" society (p. 23). Yet, as Gonick (2006) points out, public and academicpreoccupation with exploring the effects of such 'media saturation' on young women isnot new. She notes that,the changing social world produced by modernity was met with a profoundambivalence. Both women and youth became the symbols for expressing thisconcern. The figure of 'woman' was employed by cultural critics to express thisunease by constantly drawing negative connections between mass culture and thefeminine. (p. 4 citing Johnson, 1993)And so it becomes important to recognize then that third wave feminist scholar's interestin the rise of popular culture and mass media is also strongly connected to their concernsregarding the exclusion of many women's experiences from first and second wavefeminism. Indeed, much of the scholarship of the past two decades denounces secondwave feminism's paucity of class, race, sexuality, disability or youth analysis. 3° And so,as Rasmussen observes, the "third wave can be seen as a push against all forms ofdiscrimination simultaneously" (2004, p. 429) As a result, Rasmussen notes that "nothe United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada as well (see Bullen & Kenway, 2004; Griffin,2004; McLeod, 2003; McLeod and Yates, 1997; Reay, 2001; Walkerdine et al, 2001).3° See Walkerdine et al, 2001; de Ras & Lunenberg (Eds.), 1993; Findlen, 1995.46large, distinctive activist mobilization of the third wave is occurring...activism is morelocal, specific, and private" (ibid.).Yet such differences do not (arguably. cannot) represent a complete schism infeminist ideology and scholarship. For, although many third wave feminist scholarsposition their work as a critique of the two prior waves of the women's movement. indoing so such scholarship necessarily draws into the contemporary moment the struggles,arguments and ideologies of past feminisms. Indeed, Gilley (2005) notes thatcontemporary feminist scholars "[do not follow] any unified stance" yet, "...definethemselves as the third wave, an appellation that serves to distinguish them from the firstand second waves of feminism while simultaneously marking them as a continuationthereof' (p. 188). Wendy Brown (2003) suggests that the phenomenon of contradictionand division which thus marks contemporary feminist studies is an example of, "bringingalong what we are after even as we locate it behind us" (p. 3). In other words, in our"post-modern" ("post-feminist", "post-structuralist" etc.) era we "live with" the ideasborn out of first and second wave feminism while simultaneously locating such notions inthe past. And, because such "living with' is uneasy work", feminist scholars findthemselves working within a field where, "the identity that bore women's studies intobeing has dissolved without dissolving the field itself (ibid.). 31 So, while many thirdwave feminist scholars might reject their second wave ancestors they mustsimultaneously ground their third wave writing in a rejection, reproduction orreinterpretation of second wave notions of feminism and feminist scholarship.This brief historical explanation of the catalysts, inspirations and broad goals ofthe newest wave of feminist scholarship highlights the fact that girls' studies has grown131  For more along this line of thinking see McRobbie, 2004a; Rasmusson, 2004.47out of fertile thinking ground which, in relation to the diverse focus of third wavefeminists. encourages an interdisciplinary perspective in this emerging field — aperspective I intend to engage in my own research. Moreover. the focus on popularculture, mass media and young women's consumption and reconciliations of such media-saturated culture in relation to their social and economic location within the worldestablishes the boundaries for the literature reviewed in this chapter. In the remainder ofthis chapter I explore some of the most recent 'conversations' taking place within such`boundaries' of feminist and social thought.Contested ground: Young women, popular culture and feminismPopular constructions of media savvy youth cultures position young people at thecentre of our pop culture dominated world. Of course, the idea that young peopleembody signifiers of popular culture in daily living is not a new development, nor is itunique to feminism (see Willis 1990); however, it seems that feminist scholars' interest inintersections between girlhood, feminism and popular culture is rapidly increasing (seeBaumgardner & Richards, 2000, 2004; Gonick, 2006; Griffin, 2004; Harris, 2004a; Levy,2005; McRobbie, 2004b, 2005; Taft, 2004). Rasmusson (2004) is perhaps justified inclaiming that contemporary feminism is creating a "new cultural territory"; albeitterritory in which the, "focus [is] on sex and pleasure, popular culture and the media,[and] activism is more local, specific and private" (2004, p. 429).In this section I review literature which investigates how young women arepositioned within popular culture and mass media. In relation to my own investigation ofeconomically disadvantaged young women's reconciliations of media representations of48ideal (deviant) femininity I focus in particular on literature which examines suchportrayals and provides a variety of critiques of the popular and academic use of femaleempowerment 32 narratives to understand young women' relationship to such images. Atthe same time, I also seek to highlight scholarship which explores young wome n'sreconciliation of such narratives from the perspective of such young women's social andeconomic location. I suggest that while there is much discourse analysis of girl powertogether with the spectrum of discourses which shift or oppose its assertions 33 , much lessattention is paid to the symbolic grounding of such discourses both in images offemininity and in young women's context-embedded embodiment of such symbolism.Therefore, in my own work, I seek to address this apparent gap by building on the workof those authors who engage with Bourdieu's theories of embodiment,symbolic/masculine domination and symbolic violence (see 2000, 2001) to explore howparticular notions of class and gender come to be ingrained within media representationsof femininity and inscribed on the bodies of women (see Bullen & Kenway, 2004;McRobbie, 2004, 2005; Skeggs, 2001, 2005). I review the work of these authors in thefinal section of this chapter.32 "Girl Power" and "Riot Grrrl" are familiar monikers which have a high profile in both academic popularculture circles. Popular "girl power" is characterized by the British pop band, Spice Girls whose young,hyper-sexualized dress code and dedication to the concept of being a "girl's girl" marked popular youngfeminism of the early 1990s (see Baumgardner & Richards 2000, Griffin, 2004). While the term "RiotGrrrl" is not as easily defined (in part because its political message was subsumed by the more popularmedia use of 'girl power'), riot grrrl culture rose out of the punk music scene of the early 1990s. Themovement rejected "passive girl" constructions and encouraged notions of girls as independent, combativeand antiestablishment (Rosenburg & Garofolo, 1998).33 See Gonick's (2006) critique of Pipher's (1994) "Reviving Ophelia" positioning of women as passive"dupes" of mass media and popular culture and Taft's (2004) cautiously supportive analysis of the politicalpossibilities inherent within girl power narratives.49Disputing the "power" of young women in popular constructions of femininityThere is a dangerous illusion that because feminine consumer culture 110\V endorses therhetoric of "girl power"_ endlessly celebrating high-profile women, and because manywomen's magazines take up equal-opportunities issues, feminine popular culture is nolonger harmful to women. Because women are understood to be able to make their ownchoices about what they buy or how they want to look, it is thought that the powers ofpersuasion or manipulation have been eroded. (McRobbie, 2005b, final paragraph)The concept of girl power has been the subject of much research on girls andpopular culture. For example, Griffin (2004) has argued that research which seeks toexplore young women's relationship to representations of femininity within popularculture must at the same time focus a critical lens on how such relationships are depictedwithin popular culture and how they have been investigated, portrayed and explainedwithin the academy. Similarly, Gonick (2006) identifies the seemingly competing andequally mutable and "multi-stranded" "Girl Power" and "Reviving Ophelia" narratives asthe most popular "truth" discourses about young women circulating within contemporarypopular culture (p. 1). As the name suggests, Gonick connects the Reviving Opheliadiscourse (and its attendant positioning of young women as passive and vulnerablevictims of mass media and popular culture) to Pipher's (1994) popular text, RevivingOphelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. Girl Power (under which most genderedand celebratory "empowerment" narratives are subsumed) counters such fear-mongeringwith idealized and highly commercial representations of young women's power andstrength in the world. Although Gonick's work examines these two narratives in terms oftheir similar constitution of a "neoliberal girl subject" (see discussion later in thischapter) I have briefly introduced her argument here in order to contextualize thecontemporary debate about young women's seemingly disinvested relationship withfeminism in relation to their investment with the troublesome commercial notions of50feminine "empowerment" circulating in contemporary, popular marketplaces to whichMcRobbie (2005b), cited above, refers.McRobbie (2004a) notes that the period of time which marks the dissolution offeminism's second wave (the early 1990s) also marks a time when popular manifestationsof feminism began to permeate mass media and popular culture. In response to what wasread as young women's unthinking embracement of popular feminisms which celebratedhighly commercial forms of sexuality and "girliness" accusations arose which targetedyoung women's seeming ambivalence toward (and recoil in response to) traditionalfeminist doctrine. In the early 1990s young women were widely reported as adhering toan "I'm not a feminist but..." argument when asked to describe their feminist or politicalstandings (Jowett, 2004). Although Jowett notes that such arguments are part of acomplicated and historically grounded "process Hof (dis) investment in feminist ideas" (p.91) and Eisenhauer (2004) argues that feminists must seek out understandings which"complicat[e] ...assumptions regarding young women's lack of interest in feminism" (p.79) popular responses to young women's seeming disinvestment in feminism reducedsuch complex processes to a "moral panic" about young women's flagging "self-esteem"(see Ward & Benjamin, 2004). At its most extreme, popular feminist work painted adesperate picture of contemporary young women as passive, "vulnerable and voiceless"pawns of mass media and popular culture (see Pipher, 1994 in Gonick, 2006, p. 2). And,as Gonick (2006) observes Pipher's popular depiction of the "crisis" state of young,contemporary femininity was picked up in public education and educational psychologycircles further entrenching it as a powerful, mass circulating "truth" about young womenand young girls.51Against such charges of passivity, Gilley (2005) notes that while third wavefeminism is inextricably intertwined with popular culture, it is grossly misleading tonarrowly define young women as uncritical reflections of their representations in popularmedia (p. 187). In her review of the influential authors of American feminism's thirdwave Gilley calls attention to the work of Baumgardner and Richards (2000) and Findlen(1995) among others who initially sought to position young women's relationship withpopular culture and mass media as one that is undeniably complicated but alsounavoidable and potentially positive and "empowering" for young women. Baumgardnerand Richards' (2000) popular Manifesta and Findlen's (1995) edited collection of youngwomen's biographical narratives each offer a view into the "new voice(s) of feminismwhich emerged in the 1990s. I link these works here because both texts have beenreferred to as "defining texts" within American girls' studies in terms of their respectivestands against accusations of feminist apathy (Rasmusson, 2004). Importantly, bothfoundational texts present 'being a feminist' as a more individual, personal pursuit andboth link such pursuits to emerging notions of female empowerment based on personalexpression and within the context of popular culture and mass media.Findlen's text is an edited collection of "consciousness-raising" feminist anddeeply personal narratives which brings together a selection of new-generation feministsfrom diverse social, cultural and economic backgrounds and purports to represent thevoices of young women who have 'found' feminism in the aftermath of the second wave.Findlen's collection focuses on deeply personal stories which often include youngwomen's use of multi media as a vehicle for personal empowerment (particularly internet`zines). Jensen (2000) notes that while such collections (she includes similarly52constructed texts by Heywood & Drake, 1997 and Walker, 1995 in her critique) seek tocorrect feminism's historical occlusion of women's differences (race, class, sexuality,religion, disability) they abandon theory and political argument in favour of "fetishizingcontradiction" (para. 1-3). And so, while intriguing, such biographical accounts run therisk of creating a kind of analytical paralysis which precludes a larger theoreticalunderstanding of the persistent yet shifting and paradoxical manifestations of idealizedand denigrated femininity within mass media and popular culture together with youngwomen's reconciliations of such images in relation to their own experiences within theworld.Baumgardner and Richards' first publication moves away from the biographicalapproach to feminist scholarship and explores, and claims an attempt to bridge, thegenerational divide existing between women of the second and third waves. 34 This texttogether with their later works (see 2003, 2004) celebrates individualized descriptions ofyoung women "embracing girliness" and "consumerism" as an expression of what hascome to be known as girl power (2004, p. 59). Such "girliness", the authors' argue is anupdated version of feminism which itself ought to be viewed as not "about what choiceyou make, but the freedom to make the choice" (2003, p. 450). Thus, the authors arguethat the feminist academy should neither disparage nor fret about young women who"choose" to embody the `girly' and girl power symbols prevalent within popular culture.Moreover, the authors claim that such girly feminine power is tied directly toconsumption, mass media and popular culture so, for example, "when little girls sing34 Jensen (2000) notes that while Manifesto in particular was advertised as a unifying feminist "call toarms", its authors rely on a "forced consensus" which falls short of offering a truly inclusive feminism forall women (para. 2 and 7). Though politically and historically motivated, Jensen argues that Baumgardnerand Richards' work, "isn't adequate for comprehending much less galvanizing, the actual class, racial,sexual and political heterogeneity of American women" (para 9).53Spice Girl songs and...women...celebrate this season's premier of Sex in the City or hostMadonna parties. it's a fierce, fun independence they're tapping into" (2004. p. 61).But in declaring that "under the guise of helping girls and women keep theirvoices, the women's movement inadvertently mutes them" (p. 65) the authors seem toplace any feminist scholarship which critically explores representations of femininitywithin popular culture and young women's relationship to such representations in thesame camp as those who depict contemporary young women as passive vessels oruncritical dupes of popular culture. This is not, I would suggest, a particularly helpful oraccurate conflation. Moreover, they fail to position notions of "choice" and "freedom"within economic, social and cultural constraints. Again, such positioning limits ratherthan expands our understanding of the many experiences of girlhood. But, the authors'work does highlight the important point that some young women do engage with thehyper-sexual and girly subjectivities which mark popular representations of girl power inways that are meaningful to them. Therefore, I would argue that in addition tointerrogating the gendered, classed or racial inequality inherent within such assertions of"choice" and "freedom" research in this area might be further informed by aninvestigation of the complexities of young women's symbolic embodiment (seeBourdieu, 2001; McNay, 2000; Willis, 1990) of popular girly feminism framed within abroader study of the reproducing and historical mechanisms of (masculine) symbolicdomination (Bourdieu, 2001).Having offered a general outline of the polarity existing within feminist researchinto contemporary young women's relationship with popular representations offemininity, I turn now toward a review of that research which seeks to complicate such54relationships whilst avoiding both the celebration and panic characteristic of moreessentialized and popular debates. In the following sections I review the work of scholarswho seek to interrogate the more uncomplicated popular depictions of young women"being whatever they want to be" (Baumgardner & Richards. 2004, p. 66) or. likeShakespeare's pathetic Ophelia succumbing to the inherent fragility of their gender (seeGonick's 2006 discussion of Pipher. 1994). In relation to the focus of my own work, Ilook specifically at the research and theoretical arguments of those authors who seek tointerrogate the connections between popular culture, mass media, consumption andyoung women's social and economic positioning within the state.Consuming ideals and the idealization of (female) consumptionAccording the Anita Harris (2004a), the young woman as 'consumer' is now seenas a legitimate (and legitimately "participating") citizen. Harris notes that, "consumptionhas come to stand in as a sign both of successfully secured social rights and of civicpower" and that "girls above all...are held up as the exemplars of this new citizenship"(p. 163). But such constructions of the legitimate female citizen immediately excludeyoung women whose economic circumstances preclude their "participation" in ourcommodified world (see Harris, 2004a; McRobbie, 2004a; Walkerdine et al, 2001).Moreover, via girl power, sexualized and fetishized representations of young women'sbodies have been rendered ideal and empowered commodities. Griffin (2004) notes thatthe ideals of femininity marketed for young women's consumption are, moreover, drawnlargely from White, middle-class, Anglocentric notions of ideal and deviant femininity.And so, as Skeggs (2005), Weekes (2004) and others have pointed out, when popular55representations of femininity do draw upon traditionally "Othered" femininities(historically excluded from the ideal based on class, race, sexuality etc.) they are oftenfetishized, sexualized or deeply derogatory and so subjugation has simply beenrepackaged as a new and empowering commodity for young women (also see Lawler,2005a on embedded signifiers of class-based "disgust"). Thus, Harris (2004a) argues thatin our contemporary, media saturated world "'liberation - is sold to girls through theconflation of feminism and consumption" (p. 167). Such a conflation is perhaps mostapparent in mass media and those feminist theories (see Baumgardner & Richards, 2000,2004) which laud young women's embodiment of highly commercial forms of deeplyclassed and racialised (hetero) sexuality as uncomplicated expressions of feminine power.Levy (2005) challenges hyper-sexual representations of empowered femininitythrough research which examines the intersections between gendered femaleempowerment narratives, consumption and the popularity of what she identifies as theemergence of a hyper-sexual "raunch culture". Levy interviewed female collegestudents, teenage girls and those entertainment personnel (camera persons, directors andfemale stars) who are part of producing both "soft" and "hard" pornography. Sheintegrates data from the interviews within a larger critique of popular media anddominant trends which reproduce representations of hyper-sexualized femininity as theideal for adult women, teenage women and even young girls. In her analysis the popularHBO programme Sex and the City Levy examines what she identifies as its exemplar ofcontemporary media idealization and conflation of girl power with an emerging, popularand deeply gendered raunch culture. Levy calls particular attention to the "playboybunny" and "mud flap girl" pendants that two of the "strong", "independent" and56"modern" female Sex and the City characters wore (p. 186). Levy notes that dominantdiscourses lauding the "fun", "sexy" and "sexually liberated" side of femaleempowerment were symbolized in Sex and the City by privileged White women whoregularly bought $400 shoes and who adorned their bodies with the iconic symbols of theporn industry (i.e., the playboy bunny and mud flap pendants). Expanding on this theme,.Levy questions the troubling tendency for contemporary young women to embodysymbols of "sex as a commodity" as a means to express their "girl power":The women who are really emulated and obsessed over in our culture right now —strippers, porn starts, pinups — aren't even people. They are merely sexualpersonae, erotic dollies from the land of make-believe. In their performances,which is the only capacity in which we see these women we so fetishize, theydon't even speak. As far as we know, they have no ideas, no feelings, no politicalbeliefs, no relationships, no past, no future, no humanity. Is this really the best we[feminists] can do? (p. 196)Levy's research offers a revealing window through which we might view popularculture manifestations of hyper-sexualized femininities. But her findings suggest thatthere is a general enthusiastic consumption and embrace of what she calls "raunchculture" by young women. Moreover, Levy ends her analysis of the 'rise of raunchculture' with a somewhat cursory class critique; her main concern lies with feministscholars who lay claim to the "liberating" choice of embodying symbols of pornographythus effectively ignoring the highly classed world of necessity which defines thepornography industry. Although she concludes that the mass circulation of such symbolscan only lead to further stratification and exclusion in the social world, the research lacksa strong theoretical grounding which might complicate young women and girls' seeming`embracement' of raunch culture and could strengthen her arguments regarding mediacontributions to the reproduction of exclusion. As an example, I note the research57findings of both Reay (2001) and Weekes (2004) each of which offer, in different butcomplementary ways. more critical insight into how and why some young women, whoare already socially or economically excluded from the popular norms of empowered andconsuming femininity might access aspects of sexualized girl power as ambivalent formsof resistance to dominant notions of ideal femininity.Reay's (2001) research in a primary classroom in London found that the brashand overtly sexual qualities of popular music group The Spice Girls were assumed byyoung, White working class girls as a way to "escape gender subordination from theboys" albeit along traditional, heterosexual lines of gender relations (pp. 160-161).Moreover, Reay cites Walkerdine's (1997) finding that such contemporary manifestationsof popular sexuality provide a "space of power for little girls" which she acknowledges isalso a "space in which they can be exploited...[and] subject[ed] to discourses ofdenigration" (p. 161). Moreover, and importantly, both Reay and Walkerdine note thatyoung girls' and women's embodiment of highly commercial sexual or girly symbolismcan be seen, particularly in relation to their own social positioning, as resistance to theinherently classed nature of dominant feminine ideals. But, and as Reay observes in herresearch, the "possibilities" for 'power' offered by such resistance are furthercomplicated by a young woman's race and ethnicity (p. 160).Weekes' (2004) research casts questions about the relationship between dominantconsumer culture and young women's rejection of and identification withcommercialized forms of femininity in terms of race and ethnicity. Specifically, I referhere to Weekes interviews with a sub-sample (from the main body of her research) ofyoung African-Caribbean women in which she explored such young women's58relationship with popular "ragga" and "rap" music which positions young Black womenas both sexual objects and (ideal/deviant) sexual agents. Weekes argues that mediarepresentations of hyper-sexualized femininity (positioned as always on the ideologicalline between deviant and ideal) are further complicated by racial stereotypes whichpathologize Black, female sexuality (pp. 144-145). As such, Weekes found that althoughthe young women in her study called attention to rap and ragga music's hyper-sexual(and sometimes degrading and misogynistic lyrics) she characterizes their relationshipwith such music as "ambivalent". She found that the young African-Caribbean womenused the sexual elements of such popular music to subvert the structures of racism withinsociety and within other popular media representations of ideal femininity. Therefore,Weekes' findings suggest that popular concerns about young women's seeminglyuncritical consumption of highly commercial (and often derogatory) sexualizedrepresentations of femininity must be contextualized by an analysis of young women'scultural practices of resistance in relation to their race and ethnicity in addition to classand gender. Finally, despite concluding that "the relationship [the young womeninvolved in her research] have to the cultural product they consume is an active one",Weekes ends her discussion with a warning about the increased ubiquity (and thusnormalization) of hyper-sexualized media representations of femininity:However, subverting music's more complex gendered messages for the femaleMTV generation becomes increasingly hazardous the easier it is for these imagesto enter the public consciousness. (pp. 150-152)Other feminist theorists have made similar observations. As Jowett (2004)(following Walkerdine et al, 2001) notes, the assumption of equality (gender, class, race)contained within girl power narratives closes off both the space for young women to59"speak about" real inequality and the opportunity to "feel a sense of social injustice" (p.95). Jowett argues that widespread media representations of gendered empowermentwhich are imbued with the language and symbolism of girl power prevent youngwomen's political engagement with feminism. Moreover, during her research withyoung British White and Asian women she found that when experience or knowledge ofinequality was acknowledged by the young women, such acknowledgment was counteredwith what Jowett calls "a sense of cheery inevitability" that social progress willeventually take care of such inequality (p. 95). Finally, following a similar vein ofargument Taft (2004) observes that girl power narratives are problematic because of apopular conflation between "Girl Power which relates to girls' political subjectivity" andgirl power which has been co-opted by "popular culture and the mainstream media in away that...excludes girls' political selves" (p. 69). Taft argues that such exclusionmanifests in popular representations of ideal young women who are engaged in deeplyproblematic 'pursuits of happiness'. 35 Thus, popular depictions of girl power containstrong overtones of individualism and, by implication, "free will" which "describe theworld as a meritocracy void of sexism, racism, classism, ableism, and heterosexism" (p.73).Taft offers a strong argument against feminism's popular engagement with girlpower on the grounds that it marginalizes experiences of femininity which are not White,Western and privileged whilst also "inhibit[ing] girls' political engagement" (p. 70). Butdespite this argument Taft concludes with the suggestion that feminist theorists might(very cautiously) engage with narratives of girl power in their effort to help to "encourage35 See Gonick, 2006 and Rimke, 2002 on the gendered links between happiness, self-help literature andgendered individualization in our contemporary social immersion in the ethics of neo-liberalism.60girls' political activity" (p. 77). Similarly, Jowett (2004) argues that despite what shecalls young women's "erroneous ideas about feminine freedom" (which she links to theirengagement with popular constructions of hyper-sexual girl power femininity) suchyoung women must not be positioned as "ideological dupes (p. 99). Jowett concludesthat. "given the space, young women will act as highly critical agents, challenging andcontesting the discourses which they clearly imbibe in a nonetheless discriminatingfashion" (p. 98). Moreover, there is little account in either text of how social class is bothmutable and embedded in the everyday cultural experiences of young women.It seems to me that in establishing a middle ground between positioning youngwomen as 'ideological dupes' and openly celebrating the troublesome conflation offeminine power with consumption and a highly commercialized sexuality, manyresearchers focus on exploring the ways in which girl power or popular culturerepresentations of feminine empowerment might be seen to be used by young women as a"toolbox" for "personal empowerment" and "self-esteem" (see Fritzsche, 2004, p.159) or"political activity", if only as such activity might challenge popular constructions of freeand empowered femininity (see Taft, 2004, p. 77). I would side more strongly then withthe work of such theorists as Gonick (2006) and McRobbie (2004a) who argue that the`personal empowerment' and 'self-esteem' focus of some researchers "participates in theproduction of the neoliberal girl subject" (Gonick, 2006, p. 2). Moreover, I would arguethat research which more cautiously endorses a "radical [and] sociological" feministengagement with girl power narratives as a means to understand how young womenmight engage in "political activity" (Taft, 2004, p.77), might also consider whether wecut off the possibilities for young women's political and public engagement in social61spaces if we continue to define such engagements in terms of their relationship withrepresentations of sexualized and fetishized feminine empowerment.Therefore, to return to Weekes' point in the citation above, I intend to argue thatthe current mass proliferation of representations of femininity throughout all areas ofpublic space has, to borrow Arendt's very specific use of the term, rendered suchrepresentations banal by virtue of their normalized status within the Western collectiveconsciousness (see 1963, 1958/98). And so, I would follow McRobbie, 2004a who callsfor research into young women's relationship with (and positioning as consumers within)popular culture which engages critically with social and political theory as a means toframe such research within a broader investigation of the social and politicalconsequences of normalizing the conflation of sexualization with genderedempowerment. I believe that one consequence of such a conflation is a version of whatArendt calls"atrophy" in the public spaces of appearance (1958/1998). In the finalsection of this chapter, then, I explore the connections between popular mediarepresentation and positioning of female youth subjectivities and young women'scircumstances of social and economic exclusion contextualized within sociologicalcritiques of such connections.Constructing the feminine in constraint: female youth subjectivities and "difficultcircumstances" 36In this section I review literature which has posed questions about popular cultureand media constitutions of female youth subjectivities, particularly in relation to howsuch media accounts of girls shape real experiences of socially and economically36 Bullen & Kenway, 200462disadvantaged young women. In particular I explore arguments and theories whichcritique mass media for its overwhelming failure to represent the social nature of whatBullen and Kenway (2004) refer to as the -difficult circumstances" of economicdisadvantage and social exclusion. Moreover, I review social and cultural theories whichseek to understand not only the discursive power of public constitutions of youngfemininity but also their symbolic and materially grounded existence in the lives andbodies of young women together with their symbolic existence and power over time (seeBullen and Kenway, 2040; McRobbie, 2004b; Skeggs, 2001).Anita Harris (2004b) observes that in the contemporary moment, constructions of`ideal' femininity are firmly situated in representations of young, beautiful, highlysexualized women whose girl (em)powered confidence and unremitting, "capacity forself-invention", are linked to discourses of empowerment, "success" and hope for thefuture (pp. 6-17). Griffin (2004) argues that such constructions create the "impossible[female] subject" (p. 42) and notes that, "the girl subject is constituted in an uneasy andshifting location between competing external demands and pressures, and the obligatoryexpression of internal desires" (p. 40). In addition, Gonick (2006) suggests that thoughseemingly contradictory in their representation of young women, such 'competingexternal demands' must be understood as having the same end. That is, Gonick arguesthat the multifarious popular notions of "girlhood", despite their outward differences, all"contribute to the 'psychological knowledge' constituting girlhood and can be seen toassist in the production of the new self-inventing, neoliberal girl subject" (p. 18). Finally,drawing upon (and critiquing) the theories of Beck et al (1994), McRobbie (2004a)further suggests that consumer culture, mass media and some popular feminist theories63position "young women as the ideal self-inventors in an individualized risk society" (inHarris. 2004a. p. xxi). Such positioning, she argues. is most "dangerous" because itconstructs young women as powerful (and "equal") agents of change whilst renderinginvisible the very real social and economic constraints which still exist in their lives (see1999. 2004a, 2005a also see Griffin, 2004).Implicit within such contemporary celebration of the complex, mercurial andabove all "empowered" young woman is the notion that her individualized reinventionsare based in "choice" and that the processes of perpetual reinvention are progressive andnecessary for the acquisition of personal happiness and empowerment (see Gonick, 2006;Harris, 2004b). This, Harris (2004a) argues is girl power, "constructed as a personalbelief system that makes girls smart and confident: to be girl-powered is to make goodchoices and to be empowered as an individual" (p. 167). But, as Gonick (2006) pointsout, constructions of contemporary young women as passive, naïve and "at risk" in ourcommodified world also assert that society must help young women to "make goodchoices" and so there seems to be little difference in terms of an end result of whatMcRobbie (2004a) identifies as the "processes of female individualization" (p. 11). 37It has been argued that girl power and the reinvention of the female self (using thecommercialized subjectivities of girl power) presents young women with a variety ofcompetitive choices in terms of empowering feminine identities (see Baumgardner &Richards, 2000, 2004; Fritzsche, 2004). But as many theorists have pointed out, equalityof choice is a dominant and deeply problematic illusion perpetuated within what Bullen37 In her contribution to Adkin's and Skeggs (2005) Feminism After Bourdieu, McRobbie describes "femaleindividualization" as follows:Female individualization is, then, a social process bringing into being new social divisions throughthe denigration of low class or poor and disadvantaged women by means of symbolic violence.What emerges is a new regime of more sharply polarized class positions. (p. 101)64and Kenway (2004) call the "popular imaginary" of our social world. And so the popularfemininities sold to young women fail to account for young women's diverse social oreconomic circumstances. Thus Griffin (2004) argues that,the subject position of the consuming girl is not of equivalent relevance for allgirls and young women: it is profoundly shaped by class, ethnicity, sexuality, anddisability...My sense is that the discourse of Girl Power, for all the ambiguity ofthe subject positions that it appears to offer girls, has very different levels ofconnection with the lives of many girls and young women. (Griffin, 2004. p. 36)Ultimately though, Griffin's work reminds us that how scholars have chosen to critiquepopular representations of girlhood contributes to young women's understanding of theirown relationship to popular culture and the mass media representations which bothsexualize them and position them as the ideal consumer (pp. 34-35 citing Skeggs, 1997).I would like to finish this chapter, then, by taking a look at the work of McRobbie,Skeggs and Bullen and Kenway who each engage with elements of Bourdieu s socialtheory in order to open new spaces for thinking about how young femininity isconstructed and how such constructions intersect with social and economic disadvantage.Citing a lack of political "feminist values" available within popular constructionsof empowered femininity, McRobbie (2004a) argues that girl power narratives act inpopular culture as a "trope of freedom" which relegates political versions of feminism toa "shadowed" past (pp. 5-6). Grounding her argument in an analysis of popular mediaMcRobbie argues that feminism is actually negated and derided by girl power boththrough the "choices" presented to young women (sexualizing, objectifying, trivializing)and through its assertion that young women are already apparently "equal" (see 2004,2005). In fact, McRobbie's prevailing concern is with those strategies of popular cultureand popular media (and the complicity of dominant scholarship with such popular65strategies) in which "feminism [is] taken into account" 35 as a means to separatecontemporary young women from a more public and political engagement with critiquesof media representations of femininity (2004a. p. 10). Through the application of suchdominant theories to popular media representations of femininity McRobbie contends andconcludes that,this kind of sociology [post-structural theory] fits so well with currentpreoccupations, especially with those which focus on young women as ametaphor for social changes, and...this in turn gives rise to the danger ofconfirming the young female subject as one who has no need for feminist politics.(p. 11)To guard against such confirmations, McRobbie (2005a) contributes aBourdieusian analysis of what she calls the new matrix of gender and class, articulatedmost clearly in and through the fields of culture and media" in which "new forms of classdifferentiation are being produced through processes of symbolic violence" (p. 106). Inher exploration of the media phenomenon of 'makeover' television McRobbie ties newpublic tolerance for explicit "class antagonism" (pitched as entertainment) to newpolitical models of "female individualization". She observes that during a makeoverprogram, class distinctions are purposely highlighted and literally inscribed on the bodiesof both the female "victims" (participants) and their middle-class, female critics (hosts).She explains that, "the victim...presents...her class habitus (including home, family,friends and neighbours, and social milieu) for analysis and critique by the [middle class]experts" (p. 103). The (predominantly) young, female 'victims' are then "reinvented"38 This is a key concept for McRobbie and so I have included her full description below:We have a field of transformation in which feminist values come to be engaged with, and to someextent incorporated across, civil society in institutional practices, in education, in the workenvironment, and in the media. This is what I mean by 'feminism taken into account" (2004a,p.5).66(via ideal middle-class feminine traits) as legitimate citizens of the neoliberal state. Withwry humour. McRobbie notes that there is. "little space for the resolutely unimprovedwoman to stake a political claim to remaining shabby" (p. 107). More serious, though, isMcRobbie's contention that such media disseminates throughout the publicconsciousness and thus, the female body becomes naturalized as a site of deeply genderedclass divisions. She calls this social process a "specifically feminine modalit[y] ofsymbolic violence" (p. 102).McRobbie's critical engagement with Bourdieu's theories of habitus, field andsymbolic violence explore what she identifies as the phenomenon of gendered "classrearrangement" in the contemporary moment. Her work opens space to think about hownarrowly circumscribed social narratives (e.g., girl power, reinvention) operate in thelives of young women and how economically disadvantaged young women might beparticularly marginalized within such symbolic and embodied narratives. Moreover, herresearch adds an understanding of how and why such young women might participate inwhat Kehily calls, "regulating gender-appropriate behaviour for [other] young women"(p. 209). But in this publication at least she seems to minimize masculine 'modalities ofsymbolic violence' and seems instead to argue that in the contemporary moment womenhave taken over the regulatory 'male gaze':No longer defined in terms of husbands, fathers or boyfriends, women and inparticular younger women have been set free to compete with each other,sometimes mercilessly. Public enactments of hatred and animosity are refractedat a bodily or corporeal level. (p. 100)While I might agree that some popular media certainly represents the continuedregulation of female subjectivity and the female body in this way, I would argue for amore nuanced perspective on what McRobbie presents here as a clear shift. In other67words, I would go back to Bourdieu (2001) to argue that it is possible to identify theoperation of symbolic/masculine domination even within what McRobbie calls the new"girl against girl" (albeit with a Class dimension) forms of symbolic violence. Moreover.and by her own admission McRobbie's analysis focuses on social class to the exclusionof how race, ethnicity. sexual identity or diverse abilities are represented within themedia she investigates.Skeggs (2005) also remarks upon what she observes is the new media trend whichcelebrates the inscription of classed and gendered deviance on the bodies of youngwomen. And. while she suggests that in the United Kingdom "anti-racist struggles havehad a positive impact to momentarily defend black women from representationaldegradation" (p. 978) she also observes that a similar pathologizing. fetishizing andhyper-sexualizing of femininity takes place in North American media "in more race-inflected ways" (p. 966). Skeggs' analysis looks at how neo-liberal social processes inthe UK (driven in part by economic and political policy and a new "moral ambivalence")intersect in the lived experiences of economically disadvantaged young women and in themedia which claims to represent their 'true' identities through hyper-sexual, pathologizedcaricatures of femininity. Following a line of argument similar to McRobbie's assertionof a new "class rearrangement" (2005a) Skeggs contends that "compulsory individuality"marks our contemporary moment wherein individuals are presented with a "plurality offorms of selfhood" but are then judged based on the public legitimacy of their "chosen""repertoire of the self' (p. 973). Most important to this analysis is the recognition thatsuch 'choosing' takes place on very unequal ground inscribed with the historically rootedsymbolism of class, race and gender. Thus she notes,68Class relations seep into the very production and performance of supposedlyprivate subjective construction. whereby access to resources, and the ability topropertize them, is one form that class struggle now takes. What is significant inthe use of culture as a resource in self-making is how different forms ofsubjectivity are made available to different groups: subjects with and withoutvalue; different forms of subjectivity therefore constitute and display classdifferences. (pp. 974-975)Referring to the contemporary sexualization of female subjectivities, Skeggs borrowsBourdieu's theories of symbolic capital (see 1987) to argue that in popular media (likeLevy, 2005 Skeggs also uses HBO's Sex and the City as a reference) such inequalities inchoice and judgment play out differently for "black and white middle-class women"whose bodies are inscribed with hyper (hetero) sexuality and "white and black working-class women" whose bodies "remain sexual objects; cleaved by respectability" (p. 969).Thus, though the Sex and the City characters are, as Levy (2005) notes, draped in thesymbolism of the pornography industry, Skeggs argues that their status as upper middle-class career women enables them to embody the hyper-sexual subjectivity as valuablesymbolic capital (pp. 969-971).Skeggs analysis offers insight into how disadvantaged young women are morelikely to experience exclusion based on their embodiment of the hyper-sexuality inherentwithin the girl power narratives which provide the most popular avenues of"empowerment" for young women. Moreover, in other publications (see 1997) Skeggshas noted that the subjectivities seemingly made available to young women throughconsumption are limited by their spending power (or lack thereof). Building on theseinsights, I would argue that in addition to recognizing how and why economicallydisadvantaged young women have limited access to "ideal" female subjectivities (andhow their embodiment of such subjectivities might carry different meanings than for their69more privileged peers) an associated analysis of what Adkins (2004) identifies as the(Bourdieusian) "cultural and media field" (p. 7) which (re)produces such subjectivities isalso necessary.In their critique of contentious "underclass - theories Bullen and Kenway (2004)frame their argument through an analysis of the way the Australian media participated in"reinforce[ing] social exclusion" through their pathologization of economic disadvantageand through conflating this pathologization with one young woman's expressions of griefin the wake of her son's disappearance (pp. 141-142). The authors argue that popularlycirculating characterizations of disadvantage as a mark of personal deviancy, though notin themselves gendered, are most often used to describe and to regulate disadvantagedfemale subjects. Thus, the authors propose an engagement with elements of Bourdieu'ssocial theory in order to move beyond what they describe as the similarly problematicends of both "culturalist" and "structuralist" "underclass theory" which offers deeplyproblematic constructions of disadvantage in relation to young women.Citing Skeggs (1997) Bullen and Kenway note that "femininity is always classed"and, therefore, young women "invest" in femininities which have been sociallyconstructed as "respectable" as a means of acquiring cultural capital (pp. 147-148). Suchan observation takes into consideration what Skeggs (1997) identifies as the "restrictedvalue" of femininity generally, and which Bullen and Kenway note is particularlyrestricted in disadvantaged circumstances. The authors argue that such a lens,allow[s] us to go beyond the version of underclass femininity that underclasstheory constructs; beyond the polarized discourses of victim and perpetrator,beyond patronizing and pathologizing. (p. 146 citing Sayer, 2001)70Moreover, the authors highlight the importance of contingency in the lives of youngwomen and emphasize a feminist theoretical lens which would recognize the"interaction" between structure and culture and view 'social space [as] the 'space ofpoints of view:" (p. 147 citing Bourdieu et al, 1999). Their work thus situates youngwomen as similarly located", geographically and/or socially (Dillabough. 2004) withoutconstructing all disadvantaged young women as similar subjects. And so, the authorsargue that Bourdieu's theories of capital allow for an understanding of the inherentambivalence ingrained within the subjectivities assumed by young women living in`difficult circumstances'.ConclusionIn this chapter, I have reviewed literature which assesses the relationship betweengirls and representations of idealized femininity in popular culture. Broadly speaking, thiswork shows that contemporary mass media and popular culture predominantly representthe "ideal" young woman as a sexy, playful, powerful and consuming agent of change(see Harris, 2004a). But such representations most frequently present young women withprivate, personal and/or trivial channels of power (see McRobbie, 2004a). Perhaps moreimportantly, they often say little about the material and symbolic constraints which existin the lives of economically disadvantaged young women (Griffin, 2004). Therefore,such constructions of power are illusory and their popular positioning as public "truths"contributes, I would argue, to the further exclusion of such young women. However, Iwould also insist that we must not fall into the trap of positioning young women either aswholly uncritical puppets of the discourses which permeate popular culture and media or71as perpetual victims of hegemonic forces of domination. Rather. I would suggest thatresearch in this area explore the grounded, embedded and contingent nature of populardiscourses which circulate constructions of femininity through an examination of thesymbolic reproduction of such symbolically infused ideas over time. At the same time, Iwould argue that such an approach would need to explore the experiences ofeconomically disadvantaged young women in relation to how such young women mightengage with, reconfigure and, where possible, act to subvert the symbolic and discursivepopular and scholarly narratives which seek to construct them.Following the Bourdieusian framed theoretical arguments outlined in the lastsection of this chapter. I would argue that in the contemporary moment, idealizedrepresentations of empowered, perpetually reinventing femininity represent a form ofwhat Bullen and Kenway (2004) call "respectable" capital (p. 147) for (some) youngwomen. As I have reviewed in this chapter, such representations are problematic onmany levels including: their conflation of 'power' and 'liberation' with a highlycommercial sexualization of young women's bodies; their focus on hyper-individualizedsubjectivities and consumption as the only legitimate forms of citizenship; their symboliclinks to historical class and racial division; and, their marginalization of any youngwoman whose social, cultural and economic circumstances or personal comfort level(with the "girly" or "sexy" female subjectivities) prevent their engagement with suchideals (see Griffin, 2004). I would note that the utterly banal existence of (girl)empowered, endlessly reinventing femininity as not only "ideal" but more importantly"normal" closes off spaces of political engagement for socially and economicallydisadvantaged young women even as they sermonize about young women's seeming72power and equality in the world. And so I would argue that research into economicallydisadvantaged young women's reconciliations of such representations be matched by acritical theorizing of the thought-occluding effects of such representations on the publicconsciousness (see Arendt, 1963, 1958/98).I would suggest, then, that the real strength of feminist research into theconnections between young women. young women's social and economic positioningand popular culture which engages critically with broader social theory is that, to borrowfrom Adkins, it "refuses an easy storyline of women's resistance to gender norms" andremains open to recognizing new forms of division and exclusion within society (seeAdkins, 2005) even while the doxic (see Bourdieu, 1998, 2001) nature of such divisionand exclusion is investigated.I move forward now to the methodology chapter in which I outline my ownArendtian ontological approach to examining the symbolic manifestations of whatBourdieu (2001) calls masculine domination in contemporary media representations ofideal (deviant) femininity in relation to socially and economically disadvantaged youngwomen's reconciliation of such proliferate representations with their daily andmeaningful experiences of reality. And, because I follow both Arendt's and Bourdieu'srelated cautions about our essential embeddedness in our social world (which is also,consequently, ingrained within each of us) I offer as part of the following chapter adescription of the method I have elected to use as a form of context-producing mediaanalysis in chapter four. Specifically, I delineate my rather experimental adaptation ofBenjamin's montage method of analysis in order to bring about a crystallization (seeArendt, 1958/98) and recognition of the doxic but shifting forms of symbolic/masculine73domination in contemporary media representations of femininity (see Bourdieu, 2001).Finally. I describe the geographical and social location of this research and explain mymethod of data collection and analysis together with an outline of my interview approach.74Chapter ThreeMETHODOLOGYIntroductionThis chapter describes the methodological design of this thesis investigation,including data collection and data sources. I also outline the methods used to bridge thehistorical and contemporary documents with the interview data emerging from researchinterviews with the young women who participated in the study. I draw upon anArendtian understanding of phenomenological hermeneutics in order to suggest that anadaptation of Benjamin's montage method might be used to trace doxic notions of thefeminine in contemporary media representations of ideal (deviant) femininity (seeBourdieu, 2001). I argue that the montage technique offers a unique reflexivity (seeBourdieu & Wacquant, 1992) in that, "the juxtaposition of images and text is meant toproduce a cognitive experience in readers, who can see the theoretical point in a certainway" (Buck-Morss, 2002, p. 326) and in a certain temporal moment (Dillabough, 2008,forthcoming). Before outlining my interpretation of Arendtian phenomenologicalhermeneutics and the montage method it is first necessary to ground such methodologywithin its philosophical and epistemological orientations. Therefore, in the first sectionof this chapter I explore both phenomenology and hermeneutics before moving forwardto outline the specific application of such traditions within my own work. Following theexplanation of the montage technique that will be used in this thesis I describe my datacollection and data sources.75Philosophical and Epistemological Orientation to MethodsMy research approach can best be described as a critical, hermeneutic inquirywhich offers a phenomenological understanding of the relationship between female youthculture, mass media and social exclusion. Furthermore, I ground my research in ahistorically informed analysis. Broadly speaking, then, the methodology for this thesisinvestigation is informed by two complementary philosophical traditions:phenomenology and hermeneutics. I link these two fields and employ them from withinan Arendtian theoretical framework as outlined in the first chapter. Furthermore, Idefend such linking based on a Ricoeurian understanding of their relationality. Againstthe argument that hermeneutics "ruined" phenomenology, Ricoeur illuminates the"mutual belonging" which exists between phenomenology and hermeneutics (1975). Hedescribes their dialectical relationship as follows:On the one hand, hermeneutics is built on the basis of phenomenology and thuspreserves that from which it nevertheless differs: phenomenology remains theindispensible presupposition of hermeneutics. On the other hand, phenomenologyis not able to establish itself without a hermeneutical presupposition. (1975, p. 85)Simply put, the phenomenological and hermeneutical line in this investigationoperates through the concept of interpretation as an attempt to reappropriate somemeaning of female exclusion through the interpretation of young women's materialexperience in relation to a historically and theoretically informed social and politicalcontext. In what follows I will briefly discuss the roots of both phenomenology andhermeneutics and then move on to outline the philosophical grounding for the historicalmethodology of this thesis.76PhenomenologyIn general terms phenomenology may be understood as the grounding ofacademic notions of meaning in raw. unprocessed experience. Simply put,phenomenology aims to understand the - lived structures of meanings (van Manen, 1990,p. 4). Such a general description. however, is limited in so far as it fails to offer anuanced characterization of the phenomenological discipline both as a research methodand as a philosophical outlook. Janicaud notes that since its establishment as a disciplinephenomenology "has taken on many forms and has never been reducible to the formalapplication of rules" (1996, p. 53). Characterized by Husserl as "the only way ofelevating philosophy to the status of a rigorous [rational as opposed to empirical (1929, p.16)] science", phenomenology took the form of a philosophical method through whichhuman experience might be observed and understood (in Gadamer, 1977, p. 130).Husserl labelled the emerging discipline of phenomenology as a "repudia[tion] of everyphilosophical 'renaissance', which would "transpose" philosophical "intuition" onto"the firm ground of concrete research" (ibid.).Nearly a full century prior to Husserl's establishment of phenomenology as adiscipline, Hegel connected meaning to experience but emphasized both the "mediated"nature of experience and the dialectical nature of existence. The former contention insiststhat meaning not be absolute while the latter refers to Hegel's related notion that the"truth" of existence is transitory and contains within it it's own negation. If Husserl'spursuit of a rigorous methodology is considered in conjunction with Hegel's assertionthat, "change...lies within the very nature of existence" (in Weiss, 1974, p. 8)phenomenological inquiry might then acknowledge (and reflect methodologically) the77mutable nature of experience, meaning and understanding. What does this mean interms of a working definition for phenomenology? French phenomenologist Merleau-Perly, offers the following:What is phenomenology? ...It is...far from being answered. Phenomenology isthe study of essences, and, according to it, all problems amount to definingessences: the essence of perception, the essence of consciousness, for example.But phenomenology is also [emphasis added] a philosophy which relocatesessences within existence, and does not think that one can understand man [sic]and the world otherwise than by starting from their 'facility'. (in Janicaud, 1996,p. 53)Phenomenology, then, is perhaps best understood as having the twofold characterof a scholarly methodology and a philosophical orientation. While, "phenomenologypractices...a highly reflective attentiveness to the concreteness of the ordinary things ofour world" it must simultaneously acknowledge that such concrete experiences are neverstatic, objectively constituted "truths". For, "even the most ordinary of humanexperiences soon turn enigmatic — and ultimately allusive — under this reflectivephenomenological gaze" (van Manen, 2002, p. 5). As such, the non-linear, dialecticalnature of hermeneutical inquiry is uniquely suited to a phenomenologically orientedinvestigation. It is to the radical orientation of hermeneutics and its capacity forrevealing elements of young women's experiences in relation to wider circulating formsof particular ideal (deviant) femininities to which I am committed. In the followingpassages I explore the hermeneutical tradition (and its suitability to a phenomenologicalapproach to research) in general terms and then move forward to outline the Arendtianframing of phenomenology and hermeneutics which will be used in this thesis.78HermeneuticsWhere. "phenomenology describes how one orients to lived experience.hermeneutics describes how one interprets the 'texts' of life" (van Manen, 1990, p. 4).Hermeneutical inquiry is an open-ended. continuous interpretative process which islimited neither to cognitive processes (human activity is always implied) nor to the searchfor an "absolute" interpretation (Rorty. 1982). It assumes that human experience cannever be reproduced (replicated) under identical circumstances and therefore argues thatno one interpretation can be generalized as 'fact' or 'truth'. Furthermore, hermeneuticspresupposes that all human actions/experiences are grounded in, and reflect, a history.Gadamer notes that hermeneutics is the practise of "...interpreting the context whichmakes something meaningful...", and specifically that, "[i]t is not [a] fact but just thecontext which defines the meaning and significance of a fact..." (1979, p. 76). As such,although hermeneutics is now widely characterized as a general philosophical system ofinterpretive analysis (Gallagher, 1997), its contemporary manifestation is situated in ahistory which demands an explicit, if only summary, review.Originally a method applying interpretive analysis to religious texts,contemporary hermeneutics has deep (and contested) 39 roots in Hegelian philosophy.Hegel viewed history as a continuous and fluctuating cycle of thesis-antithesis-synthesis(the Hegelian dialectic), with each era giving rise to its own 'opposition' (in Weiss,1974). While an ideology of historical progress seems implicit to the dialectic, Hegel39 While the nature of Hegel's contribution to contemporary hermeneutics is hotly contested, the link (`deeproots') to Hegel is not. See the henneneutically related criticisms of Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, Derrida,Haben-nas (summarized in Gallagher [ed.], 1997). I do not explore the arguments which exist in thephilosophical hermeneutical community with regard to Hegel's positive or negative contributions to thefield. I rely instead on Merleau-Ponty's observation that, "all of the great philosophical ideas of the pastcentury...had their beginnings in Hegel", and, Habermas' similar reflection that, "Hegel inaugurated thediscourse of modernity" (in Gallagher, 1997, p. 1).79was more concerned with progressions of understanding (a flux of ideas) which mightideally result in "full transparence" of phenomena under study (Gadamer, 1979, p. 76).Interestingly, the spirit of dialectical interpretation has been retained by hermeneutics tothe present day yet contemporary hermeneutics is linked more often to Heiddigger'shermeneutic circle -H) (see also Gadamer. 1975; Ricoeur, 1995; Rorty. 1982) than to theHegelian dialectic. Such a distancing is perhaps partly explained as a divergence onontological grounds. Whereas Hegel believed that the dialectical process wouldeventuate in a spiritual realization (the absolute), later hermeneutics denounced both theseemingly mystical and deterministic implications of Hegel's philosophy. Instead,'popular' hermeneutical inquiry became synonymous with a post-modern focus on the"essentially linguistic" nature of human experience (Gadamer in Rorty, 1982, p. 3). 41Twentieth century philosophers (see Foucault, Heidegger, Derrida) rejectedHegel's metaphysical thinking (see Hegel's Science of Logic) and argued that in thePlatonic quest for 'absolute' or 'perfect' forms, reason became simply a "surrogate" foran omniscient presence, or 'God' (Rorty, 1982). Furthermore, Hegel's "system of purereason" (in Weiss, 1974, p. 86) was criticised on the grounds that it lifted thought out ofits experiential context, effectively providing a "view from nowhere" (Gadamer inRedding, 1996, p. 49). In such a reading, "Hegel the hermeneutic philosopher is usurpedby Hegel the dogmatic metaphysician" (Redding, 1996, p. 49); a 'usurpation' whichserves to obfuscate the importance of Hegel's contribution to the field of hermeneutics.Indeed, I would argue that we might refute the characterization of Hegel as a philosopher40 The hermeneutic circle refers to the dictum that, "we have to refer to the whole to understand the partsand the parts to understand the whole" in terms of scholarly interpretation (Marshall [Ed.], 1998, p. 327).41 I depart from Gadamer, Foucault et al with the assertion that such linguistic analysis is necessary but notsufficient.80concerned only with the abstract (and thereby establish the essence of Hegel'shermeneutical phenomenology as a valid point of departure for bringing theory to bear onthe material study of girlhood) by turning once again to his phenomenological writings.In The Phenomenology of Mind (1807) Hegel speaks at length to the imbalancedseparation which exists between concrete experience and abstract theory:Time was when man [sic] had a heaven, decked and fitted out with endless wealthof thoughts and pictures. The significance of all that is, lay in the thread of lightby which it was attached to heaven; instead of dwelling in the present as it is hereand now, the eye glanced away over the present to the Divine...The mind's eye had to be directed under compulsion to what is earthly, and keptfixed there; and it has needed a long time to introduce that clearness, which onlycelestial realities had, into the crassness and confusion shrouding the sense ofthings earthly, and to make attention to the immediate present as such, which wascalled Experience, of interest and of value. Now we have apparently the oppositeof all this; man's mind and interest are so deeply rooted in the earthly that werequire a like power to have them raised above that level. (in Weiss 1974,Introduction).Although couched in admittedly provocative, spiritual language. Hegel's thinking notesquite clearly the limitations of either a purely abstract or wholly experiential philosophy.Far from providing a "view from nowhere" (Gadamer in Redding, 1996, p. 49), Hegelseems to regret the lack of philosophical middle ground. Indeed, Arendt observed thatthe "reconciliation" between thought and human experience (the "Divine" and the"secular" in Hegelian terms), "is at the center of the whole Hegelian system" (1971, II, p.46). Hegel would have philosophical inquiry ground meaning in moments of experienceand reflect the, "...equal necessity of all moments [which constitute] alone and therebythe life of the whole" (Hegel in Weiss, 1974, p. 7). 42 Such a reflection would necessarily42 This quotation is taken from the concluding lines of an analogy drawn from Hegel's preface to his work,Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) as found in Weiss, 1974. 1 have included the entire metaphor here:The bud disappears when the blossom breaks through, and we might say that the former is refutedby the latter; in the same way when the fruit comes, the blossom may be explained to be a false81entail a strong hermeneutical approach to research informed by both a theoretical and ahistorical lens. In the following section I explore an Arendtian pairing of phenomenologyand hermeneutics which reconciles the theory/experience dichotomy and provides thephilosophical foundation for this thesis investigation.Arendtian Phenomenological HermeneuticsArendtian phenomenology is distinctive in that it carries within it the assumptionof natality which, " the condition through which we immerse ourselves into theworld..." (Benhabib, 2000, p. 81). Arendt would "free" the study of human experience(action) from determined, causal or progressive analysis through a recognition of the"startling[ly] unexpected[]" nature of experience (1958/98, pp. 175-178). She argues thatsuch "unexpectedness" has a dual nature of inexhaustive hopefulness and "supremethoughtlessness" (ideas explored in the first chapter). Moreover, what Arendt titles "thehuman condition of plurality" is firmly rooted in her phenomenological method(1958/98). She directly links the meaning inherent in experience (common to allphenomenology) to the condition of plurality. Indeed, in an Arendtian phenomenologicalanalysis, meaningful experience presupposes plurality. In her own words:Action... corresponds to the human condition of plurality, to the fact that men, notMan [sic], live on the earth and inhabit the world...,and further;Plurality is the condition of human action because we are all the same, that is,human, in such a way that nobody is ever the same as anyone else who ever lived,lives, or will live. (1958/98, pp. 7-8)form of the plant's existence, for the fruit appears as it true nature in place of the blossom. Thesestages are not merely differentiated; they supplant one another as being incompatible with oneanother. But the ceaseless activity of their own inherent nature makes them at the same timemoments of an organic unity, where they not merely do not contradict one another, but where oneis as necessary as the other; and this equal necessity of all moments constitutes alone and therebythe life of the whole (p. 7).82Arendtian phenomenology, therefore. seeks to rectify the philosophical tradition of thesubordination of lived experience. In my own research this meant that if I wanted totheorize about the potential effects of media representations of ideal (deviant) femininityon economically disadvantaged young women I must first investigate how such youngwomen position themselves in relation to popular notions of femininity and to their ownsocial location. However, Arendt would not have scholars abandon all theoreticalpursuits. Arendt's search for the "originary character" of experience (the fact of natality)does not position theory before experience or vice versa, but rather uses theory to openspace for thinking about experience.Arendt sought to 'dismantle' philosophical traditions which subordinated livedexperience (vita active) to purely theoretical musings (vita contemplative) 43 without alsoengaging in a problematic rejection of abstract philosophical thought (1958/1998).Speaking to the connection between theory and experience she observes that "...nomatter how abstract our theories may sound or how consistent our arguments may appear,there are incidents and stories behind them which, at least for us ourselves, contain as in anutshell the full meaning of whatever we have to say..." (Arendt, n.d. from Action andthe Pursuit of Happiness [APH] 44, p. 3). Arendt would have scholars `visit' 45 such`stories' from multiple angles in a historicized context which, "...does not inspire orexhort us to specific deeds" (Kohn, 2000, p. 115). Rather, 'visiting' recognizes that,43 In The Human Condition Arendt credits Plato with this philosophical `error' of hierarchicalcategorization. See Arendt's analysis of Plato's "Myth of the Cave" (1958/98, pp. 20-21).44 In The Hannah Arendt Papers at the Library of Congress [HAPLC] (1923-1975) Essays and lectures---"Foreign Affairs in the Foreign Language Press," essay---n.d. (Series: Speeches and Writings File, 1923-1975, n.d.).45 A more thorough discussion of visiting is taken up in chapter one.83thought itself...arises out of the actuality of incidents, and incidents of livingexperience must remain its guideposts by which it takes its bearings. if it is not tolose itself in the heights to which thinking soars, or in the depths to which is mustdescend. In other words, the curve which the activity of thought describes mustremain bound to incident as the circle remains bound to its focus. (Arendt. APH.P. 3 ).What's more, human experience also presupposes a historical context; or, to useArendtian language, "[a]ction...creates the condition for remembrance. that is. forhistory" (p. 9). Thus, the media montage (see Buck-Morss. 1989 on Benjamin s montagetechnique) in chapter four (described in full later in this chapter) represents, I suggest, anexample of historicized visiting — a suggestion which is explained in the next fewparagraphs and fully described in the section which follows.Speaking to the way in which we seek to study human experience in relation tohistory, Arendt turned to the hermeneutical impulse to "go back to the sourcesthemselves" (Arendt, n.d., APH, p. 3). While Arendt acknowledged the limitations46manifest in the increasingly popular hermeneutical inquiries of her time, her approach tophilosophical analysis is hermeneutical in its design. Arendt equated the hermeneuticalprocess of analysis to the, "artificial alienat[ion] [of] our minds" from the study of"ordinary", "everyday" experiences (ibid.). 47 Such alienation, she argues, must occur inorder to, "repeat the wonder and surprise with which the common, which we constantlyand inevitably tend to overlook because of its familiarity, must strike us to assert its true46 See Arendt, n.d., APH47 Indeed, Kohn notes that, "...the faculty of judgment, with which [Arendt] ultimately hoped to resolve themost fundamental problems of action arising from her political thought — the judgment she had long sincepracticed but only turned to examine and analyze at the end of her life — depended on a degree ofseparation, on being situated at a certain remove from the world and its events" (2000, p. 117). Moreover,as Nelson notes, Arendt both advocated and lived a life of periodic 'artificial alienation'; she positionedherself as "alone" and "on the same side" as others in order to "embrace the discomfort of uncertainty andthe anxiety of unpredictability" which is a "precondition" for ethical, political analysis and social change(2006, pp. 86, 89).84significance" (ibid.; also see Bourdieu, 2001 on the paradox of doxa). 43 The mediamontage in chapter four attempts to effect an 'artificial alienation' of the reader's mindfrom its embeddedness within "commonplace assumptions (see hahilus, Bourdieu, 2000.p. 138) about media and about how media depicts particular kinds of femininity. Isuggest that the media montage will provide a better position from which to explore andunderstand how the young women who were involved in this research might make senseof or "reconcile" media representations of ideal (deviant) femininity within the contextof their own lives. It is important too, to note that while Arendt's hermeneutical methodof 'alienation' might appear to be in conflict with her phenomenological impulses,Canovan argues that a study of Arendt's metaphor of crystallization (discussed below)serves to reconcile the seeming conflict (1992). I take up this metaphor in chapter fourand use it as a frame for understanding how Benjamin's montage method might aid in theretrieval of memory "lost" through our 'commonplace' acceptance of the order of theworld.Arendt's Metaphor of "Crystallization"Arendt compares the complex, dialectical relationship between concrete humanexperience, theory, historical context and hermeneutical analysis to the process ofcrystallization. Her analogy at once recognizes the multi-faceted and mutable nature ofinterpretation of experience and also allows for momentary, situated clarity(solidification) of analysis, however fragmentary. The metaphor itself is built on apassage from Shakespeare's Tempest:Full fathom five thy father lies,Of his bones are coral made,Those are pearls that were his eyes.48 For discussion on McCarthy's understanding on the necessity for -self-alienation" see Nelson (2006).85Nothing of him that doth fadebut doth suffer a sea-changeInto something rich and strange. (I, ii, in Arendt. 1971. p. 212)Canovan notes that the. "pearl diver [scholar]... fishes in the depths of the past forremains that have suffered a sea-change'", in order to, "...pry loose the rich and thestrange, the pearls and the coral in the depths', guided by the belief that the process ofdecay is at the same time a process of crystallization' (Canovan, 1992, p. 4). 49 Arendtwould have the work of contemporary scholars "fed" by, "a fragmented past, which haslost its certainty of evaluation" (1971, p. 212). Such scholarship does not search for anabsolute. Instead, it is research which recognizes that,the only gain one might legitimately not a result, such as a definition,or the attainment of a goal, such as a theory, but rather the slow, ploddingdiscovery and, perhaps, the mapping survey of the region which some incidenthad completely illuminated for a fleeting moment. (Arendt, n.d., APH, pp. 1-3)It is the necessarily fragmentary nature of knowledge which Arendt addresses within thecrystallization metaphor. Canovan elucidates and extends the analogy, musing that,while it may be possible to see through a crystal to the ground in which it isembedded, it is in the nature of the same crystal to have many facets, reflecting light fromdifferent sources and glittering with inexhaustible significance" (1992, p. 5). Thus, themetaphor of crystallization incorporates both Arendt's hermeneutical argument that"alienated" reflection on experience might "completely illuminate[]" the meaningfulnessof an experience "for a fleeting moment" (Arendt, n.d., APH, p. 3) and herphenomenological focus on "recovering raw experience" (Canovan, 1992, p. 5).Arendtian phenomenological and hermeneutical analysis is, then, "...thinking, fed by the49 For the passages quoted within the Canovan (1992) quotation see Cape, Jonathan (1970) "WalterBenjamin 1892-1940" in Men in Dark Times (London: 205-6).86present, work[ing] with the 'thought fragments' it can wrest from the past and gatherabout itself' (Arendt 1968, p. 51).In chapter four I attempt to enact such an artificial 'alienation' of my ownthinking and that of my reader through an adaptation of Benjamin's montage technique(see Buck-Morss, 1989). I juxtapose contemporary media (described later in this chapter)with visual and textual samples drawn from literature and historical media. I suggest thatsuch a juxtaposition might open space for an expanded and "temporal" (Dillabough,2008, forthcoming) account of the signifiers of masculine domination embedded withincontemporary media representations of ideal (deviant) femininity. In chapter five, Isuggest that we might use Arendt's metaphor of crystallization to understand youngwomen's similarly 'temporal' and mutable but also inherently meaningful experiences oftheir reconciliation of mediated notions of femininity in relation to their own constrainedsocio-economic circumstances. I explore an Arendtian understanding ofphenomenology's experientially grounded approach together with the essence (if not thetotal philosophy) of Hegel's observation of the dialectical nature of all existence;particularly that of human experience. I will argue that such an approach might allow usto observe both the multi-faceted, crystallized experiences of young women and theshifting, 'temporal' ground in which such experiences rest. Thus, Arendt's metaphor ofcrystallization forms the philosophical base for the following exploration of a historicalmethod (montage) which seeks to illuminate the present through a "dismantling" oftraditional historical representations of idealized femininity. I begin with a description ofthe method itself and then offer my own interpretation and adaptation of montage as it87will be applied to my exploration of media representations of ideal (deviant) femininityand to economically disadvantaged young women' s relationships with such depictions.Historical methodIntroductionAs I have already outlined, this thesis employs a hermeneutical inquiry method inwhich cultural phenomena are understood to be contingent within not only theircontemporary but also their historical -5° context. In a discussion linking hermeneuticsand historical methodology Ricoeur noted that, "...historical transmission needs to bethought of differently than as succession as it is conceived by the natural sciences, andhistorical method must accordingly differ from the method used in these sciences" (1976,p. 688). Ricoeur goes on to clarify, arguing that it is "history's misfortune", rather thanits "primordial constitution", that, "...human relations throughout history are, to aconsiderable extent, reified to the point that the course of history is no longerdistinguished from the flow of things 51 ..." (pp. 688-689). In other words, rather thanrecognizing our dialectical and necessarily fragmented understanding of history,traditional historiography has worked from within a linear, progressive concept ofhistory. Ricoeur reminds us that "one consequence" of being "...separated in time fromour that history is knowledge by means of "traces" and the past isaccessible to us only through marks, inscriptions, documents, archives and themonuments of all kinds that play the role of "facts" for historical inquiry" (1976, p. 691).I use history both as an analytical tool and as a part of the theoretical grounding of this thesis but makeno claims to offer a comprehensive history of social exclusion or of young women's historical relationshipto socio-cultural representations of femininity.51 Ricoeur is building on Kant's analogy of a "ship descending a stream" through which "human events areinterwoven within the flow of things...descend[ing] the stream along with it" (1976, p. 687).88I contend that Benjamin's montage historiography offers an approach to researchwhich serves to illuminate the fragmentary nature of the "facts" of history to whichRicoeur refers. In order to disrupt linear (and causal) conceptualizations of history assuch notions are manifest within contemporary media representations of femininity, Iemploy a strategy of montage historiography borrowed from the work of Benjamin andinspired, philosophically speaking, by the writings of Hannah Arendt. Through montagehistoriography I am able to juxtapose selections of historical and contemporary mediawith interdisciplinary theory to create both a reflexive analysis and a context for theempirical research collected from my interviews with six young women. I am able to, inBenjamin's words, "brush history against the grain" (1968, p. 257) in order to reveal themechanisms and processes by which ideologically laden historical "documents"' 2 informyoung women's experiences of gender and exclusion in the present.Montage as contextWalter Benjamin...took seriously the debris of mass culture as the source ofphilosophical was precisely Benjamin's point to bridge the gap betweeneveryday experience and traditional academic concerns, actually to achieve thatphenomenological hermeneutics of the profane world which Heidegger only pretended(Buck-Morss, 1989, pp. ix - 3).Benjamin offers a unique, nonlinear 53 reading of history that that operates throughthe arrangement of fragments of the past and present alongside each other (collage) inorder to offer a contextualized understanding of conditions in the contemporary moment52 I use here, and throughout this thesis, the term "document" according to Benjamin's historical materialistnotion of "documents of barbarism" as described in his Theses on the Philosophy of History (1968) andelaborated in detail further in this chapter.Buck-Morns (1989) notes that, "Benjamin was ... convinced of one thing: what was needed was a visual,not a linear logic: The concepts were to be imagistically constructed, according to the cognitive principlesof montage. Nineteenth-century objects were to be made visible as the origin of the present, at the sametime that every assumption of progress was to be scrupulously rejected" (pp. 218, 71).89(montage). Shanks offers the following characterization of the differences betweencollage and direct quotation, literal repetition or citation of something taken out ofits context and placed in another. Montage is the cutting and reassembling ofthese fragments of meanings, images, things, quotations, borrowing, to create newjuxtapositions. Collage is a simple questioning of the notion of representation asfinding some correspondence with an exterior reality. ...The aim is to constructsomething new out of old, to connect what may appear dissimilar in order toachieve new insights and understanding. ..."(1992, 188-90).Whereas collage describes . the result of fragmented texts and images coming together toform a 'new' whole, montage reflects the method of the researcher who seeks to"illuminate" contemporary phenomena in an historical context. The montage methodallows a dialectical linking of contemporary and historical data to an overarchingtheoretical framework. To use Benjamin - s colourful, metaphoric language, the scholarwho adopts a montage method,stops telling the sequence of events like the beads of a rosary. Instead he [sic]grasps the constellation which his own era has formed with a definite earlier one.Thus he [sic] establishes a conception of the present as the "time of the now"which is shot through with chips of Messianic time. (1968, p. 263)While the effectiveness of the montage method may be "to suggest multiple andsingular temporalities that discursively unite past and present moments" (Curthoys,1999), it is important to note that such moments are not tacitly neutral. In other words,inherent to the montage method is the assumption that all such moments and documentsof history are embedded with cultural symbols of oppression. '` Like Arendt, Benjamin'swork is committed to establishing a political ethic and is therefore both concerned with54 While Benjamin would not have described himself as a cultural historian, his work reflects a "concernwith the symbolic and its interpretation" which Burke identifies as "the common ground of culturalhistorians" (2004, p. 3)90the transmission of culturally embedded symbols and informed by his own historicalmaterialist perspective. 5 The montage method was meant to ''awaken the politicalconsciousness" of his generation (Buck-Morss, 1989, p. 336) rather than to offer yetanother history of the class struggle (Benjamin, 1968). To that end, Benjamin argued thatwhile employing the montage method historians must recognize that "there is nodocument of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism" (p.256). As I have applied the concept, documents of barbarism both to texts analysed inthis thesis and to ideological symbols embedded in all observed social phenomena it isimportant to briefly define its central meaning.Benjamin argues that all celebrated social phenomena (e.g., architecture,literature, ideology, philosophy etc.) represent "documents of barbarism" (1968). That isto say, traditional history is the story of those who triumphed — those who produced,reproduced, represented and continue to benefit from the dominant ideology and socialcapital of any given era. Traditional historicism "empathizes...with the victor" and,Benjamin argues, perpetuates the dominance of the privileged "rulers" over those ignoredand marginalized within society. Building on a metaphor of war Benjamin writes:all rulers are the heirs of those who conquered before them. Hence, empathy withthe victor invariably benefits the rulers... Whoever has emerged victoriousparticipates to this day in the triumphal procession in which the present rulers stepover those who are lying prostrate. According to traditional practice, the spoilsare carried along in the procession. They are called cultural treasures...They owetheir existence not only to the efforts of the great minds and talents who havecreated them, but also to the anonymous toil of their contemporaries. (p. 256)55Also like Arendt, Benjamin was concerned with the dangers of disconnecting the present from its past andwarned that, "[f] or every image of the past that is not recognized by the present as one of its own concernsthreatens to disappear in-etrievably" (1968, p. 255). Such lack of recognition, he argued, was evident by,"[t]he current amazement that the things we are experiencing are "still" possible in the twentiethcentury"(p. 257). 1 take up these ideas in the Theoretical Framework outlined in chapter one under the sub-heading Thoughtlessness.91Furthermore, Benjamin reminds us that, "just as such...document[s] [are] not free ofbarbarism. barbarism taints also the manner in which [they were] transmitted..." (p. 256).Through historical montage Benjamin seeks to avoid the reproduction of barbarism viatraditional historiography and chooses instead to "blast open the continuum of history" inorder to illuminate static elements of dominance inherent in all historic and contemporarymaterial (p. 262). Such a methodology represents a shift out of traditional historicismwhich can, by accident or by design, privilege tales of victory over and above tales of"anonymous toil" (ibid.). By detaching such documents from their regimented place in alinear history of progress we might observe the, "...concrete, 'small, particular moments'in which the 'total' historical event' was to be which the origins of thepresent could be found" (Buck-Morss 1989, pp. 218, 71).Taking Benjamin's notion of oppression-laden historical documents as a startingpoint, I adopt the montage method to observe that which has been obscured by dominantrepresentations of unfettered, powerful feminine "freedom" in the 21 st century. Morespecifically, I employ an Arendtian framing of montage historiography to build acontextual chapter (chapter four) which will then inform the following chapter'sexploration of the relationship between the social location of the young women involvedin this study, their own meaningful and complicated embodiment and rejection ofsymbolic representations of femininity and the reproduction of such symbols throughouthistory. Broadly speaking, montage allows an examination of the data collected inrelation to larger issues of social exclusion. Specifically, montage analysis allowsenduring and mutable symbols of femininity to be traced through time without assigninga static interpretation of such symbols. Embedded cultural symbols in documents from92the past will be juxtaposed against both those of the present and then followed through totheir manifestations in the lived experiences of the young women interviewed for thisstudy. Furthermore. the dialectical nature of the montage method not only rejectsprogressive historicism but also guards against deterministic interpretations ofcontemporary data. In other words, while doxic and oppressive elements might berecognized in contemporary representations of ideal femininity, young women will not beportrayed as "trapped" or "helpless" victims of a stagnant, hegernonic history. Instead, Iexpand upon Walkerdine et al's specific observation that, "...class still insists upon itspresence even in the midst of its remaking" (2001, p. 4) to assert that I might observeevidence of embedded symbols of social exclusion which continue to 'insist on theirpresence' even as they are 'remade' in the contemporary moment. As Lindroos (2003)notes, Benjamin's montage method examines, " the heterogeneity of historicalknowledge forms an active background for constituting political knowledge" (p. 234).Thus, through a montage analysis of historical and contemporary media we may begin torecognize the stratifying and exclusionary socio-political practices which continue to beboth powerful and present in the lives of young, disadvantaged women in thecontemporary moment without positioning such young women as submissive prisoners ofhistory.Data CollectionWorking from within the theoretical framework explored in chapter one I employtwo hermeneutic devices (qualitative interviewing and multi media analysis) in order toexplore the relationship between disadvantaged young women and media representations93of femininity. Specifically, two primary sources of data were used during the course ofthis thesis study:i) semi-structured interviews with six young women attending high school inan urban centre in Canada together with research field notes and,ii) a wide variety of media documents including television programming andadvertising; newspaper and magazine advertising, images and articles;online articles, blogs, advertising and websites. In particular I examine:Maclean 's magazine January. 1, 2007. front cover; Marie Claire magazineMarch, 2005. "Married with Accessories" fashion photo array; VancouverSun articles November, 18, 2000, Al & November 21, 2001, Bl; TheSwan and Extreme Makeover selections of text from official web sites.Interview Respondents and ContextThis thesis investigation extends from a portion of a study conducted by Dr. Jo-Anne Dillabough titled, "Social Change and the Study of Economically DisadvantagedYouth in Canadian Schools", by including specific questions related to issues offemininity and the media. Interview data was collected from a sub-sample of six youngwomen drawn from a larger sample in the named study. The young women were locatedacross a range of ethnic, cultural and familial positions including "migrant" and "firstgeneration" Canadian Cambodian/Islamic, Chinese, First Nations, Polish and Vietnamesecommunities; and, "single parent", "blended" and "extended" family units which mightbe identified as economically disadvantaged. At the time of the interviews the youngwomen ranged in age from 15-17 and all attended one particular high school in an urban,inner-city community. The school has an ethnically and culturally diverse population ofstudents and is the oldest in its urban centre. It is a self-described "community school"which offers kindergarten to grade twelve education and shares property with a busypublic library and community centre. Because of its close association with an area ofconcentrated poverty, the school has an undeserved and external reputation for being94"dangerous" (defined as permeated with drugs and violence) and for providing sub-standard education.' 6Geographically, the school property flanks the boundaries of the mostmarginalized, pathologized and culturally diverse community in its city and many of thestudents live in the more affordable housing offered within this adjacent community. Atthis point it must be noted that in using the broad term community it is not my intentionto ignore the particularity of humans, nor to collapse the boundaries of the uniqueneighbourhoods with their complex, shifting relationships which exist within thisgeographical region. I employ the term for the sake of expediency (to refer to ageographical area) and I recognize that such language (if left unqualified) risksreproducing the highly classed stigma of social deviance which is attached to such areasof concentrated poverty. With this qualification in mind, then, in choosing to interviewyoung women who attend school in a deeply pathologized and economicallydisadvantaged urban location I hope to explore exclusion as it relates to class as well as toage and gender while also noting Madeleine Jowett's observation that "social class isnotoriously difficult to categorize" (2004, p. 92). •ProcessThe research questions posed to young women in this thesis project were drawnfrom six of the "Interview Topics For Case Study Sites: Youth (14-18)" from Dr.Dillabough's original study. Under section #3 I added specific subjects to be addressed56 This statement reflects opinions offered by staff and students and taken from interviews conducted withinDr. Dillabough's larger investigation as well as from the interviews with the six young women.95which extend the original topic, "Social Conditions and Issues of Exclusion BeyondSchooling". The additional topics are as follows:• issues related to gender. race. class and urban life.• questions about media, popular culture (fashion. music. technology. television,film) and young women's understandings of themselves and their future,• perceptions of femininity and race and class and their links to cultural/nationalidentity and inclusion in schools.Each young woman was interviewed in a private room within the school or, inone instance, in her own home at her request and with the written permission of herparent. The interviewer began each interview with a brief discussion dealing withconfidentiality, the voluntary nature of both the interview itself and each questionpresented. The young women were then asked a series of questions framed from thelarger study's interview protocol. As part of the protocol, the interviewer presented eachyoung woman with three pages taken from magazines marketed to teenage girls anddrawn from the larger sample of documents collected and analysed in this thesis (seechapter four). The interviewer initially asked each young woman to respond to thesymbols of femininity represented on the magazine page. Then a range of questions wereasked including:• what is your definition of a "normal" (or "perfect" or "ideal") girl?• what is your definition of an "abnormal" (or "deviant") girl?• what influences your ideas about such definitions?• how does your definition compare to what you might have seen/read about inmedia (generally) and to the sample magazine documents we are looking at here?• what do you think or how do you feel about the way young women are beingportrayed in the sample magazine documents we are looking at here?As in Dr. Dillabough's study, questions related to the additional thematicstrands were asked in an open-ended manner and were asked as an extension of theinterviewing procedures for and questions related to the larger study. Because of the96open-ended design of the interview protocol, discussion about popular culture, media,femininity and exclusion was moved forward with questions which were drawn from theyoung women's responses.Such questions (and the open-ended way in which they were posed) draw theirunderpinning purpose from both theories of cultural production and young people'sengagement with popular culture. media and consumption which arise out ofethnographic studies of youth culture (see Willis, 1977, 1990); and, the previouslydiscussed Arendtian imperative to ground thinking in actual experience and to understandthat experience (and thus also the associated theorizing) is mutable. While my ownproject was not a true ethnography, I attempted to ask questions which helped me to "getthe inside story" (Willis, 2003, p.393) on how these six young women make sense oftheir world in relation to how media represents their world and their age, gender, sociallocation and economic circumstances. Moreover, the purpose behind the questions wasfurther informed by Bourdieu's theories of habitus and symbolic/masculine domination(2000, 2001) in terms of the embeddedness of such symbolism and of Bourdieu'sperspective on young women's participation in the "relations of domination" (see 2001).And so I understand the young women's answers to such questions as contingent andparticular moments related to the 'inside story' rather than as static "truths" which implya "correct" interpretation of an isolated account. The interaction between the interviewerand the young women constitutes such moments of appearance, of observation andinsight and moments of semblance57 which hang together in the common spaces andagonistic tensions of larger unfolding social narratives.57 Arendt's concept of semblance accounts for the "errors" of observation and interpretation which"correspond" with the "perception" of appearance. Arendt explains,97DocumentsThe documents analysed in this thesis are drawn from a range of media (includingmagazines, internet and television) which represent an approximate span of 200 years. Ifollow Driscoll (2002) in choosing to consider media within this time period (the modernto late modern Western world) as it represents a "period of Western history that focuseson the person' as the knowing centre of the world" and also a period when "girls andyoung women seem to have become increasingly visible in public life and takenincreasingly diverse public roles" (p. 2). Furthermore, this time period also encompassesa shift in Western ideology, again from a social to an individual focus and, most recentlyas social impqatives of hyper-individualism borrowed from neo-liberal economictheories (see Bourdieu, 1998). Thus it becomes important to consider the intersectionsbetween the lives of young women, mass media and critical social theory in relation tosuch a social shift (see theoretical discussions of such intersections in chapters one andtwo).Within the media montage in chapter four the following media were examined:advertising and articles from issues of Marie Claire (2005) and Maclean's (2007)magazines; newspaper articles from Vancouver Sun (2000, 2001); a selection of popularand contemporary "self-help literature"; internet discussion blogs (2004-2008), officialwebsites and television programming for The Swan and Extreme Makeover; and,advertisements from issues of Chatelaine magazine (1949) and Ladies Home JournalSemblance is inherent in a world ruled by the twofold law of appearing to a plurality of sensitivecreatures each equipped with the faculties of perception. Nothing that appears manifests itself to asingle viewer capable of perceiving it under all its inherent aspects. The world appears in themode of it-seems-to-me, depending on particular perspectives determined by location in the world.(1971, 1, p. 38)98(1938)' 8 . Where applicable references to representations of dominant notions offemininity in the novels 1984 (Orwell. 1949), The Penelopiad (Atwood, 2005). Lolitu(Nabokov, 1970/91) were juxtaposed with the samples drawn from mass media. Suchtexts have been selected for their symbolic representations of, or textual references to,ideal and deviant femininity as well as for their mass production and consumption withintheir particular time period.Arrangement and analysis of DocumentsThe arrangement of such a vast array of media documents using Benjamin'smontage methodology constitutes what Goodman (2003) refers to as an "experimentalform of writing" (p. 157) which follows the work of an author whose own experimentalmontage was never completed. Within the montage I do not engage in a straight-ahead,in-depth analysis of each document. Contemporary representations of femininity sitalongside historical documents which seem to be part of an outmoded past until they sitbeside their recycled or reproduced contemporary counterparts. Such 'sitting beside' ismeant to bring about the "dialectical thinking" which best perceives the"superimposition" or "embeddedness of the present in the past — or the vibration of thepast in the present" (Eiland, 2007, p. 126). Thus, I arrange such documents according toBenjamin's desire to create the "critical stops and jarring interruptions" (see Goodman,2003, p. 159) which best facilitate new thought or insight and then employ Arendt's58 All contemporary images reprinted with permission. Although I attempted to receive permission toreprint the two advertisements from the mid-twentieth century, one company is no longer active and theother no longer makes the product as advertised. I will not reprint these two images beyond this thesis forthat reason.99hermeneutical and phenomenological approach to theorizing (discussed previously in thischapter) the relevance of such arrangements.Although we cannot know what the final draft of Benjamin's unconventionalcultural study might have looked like, I have relied upon and been guided by hisdiscussions on the fragmented and non-linear nature of history. of the need to "brushhistory against the grain", and of the embedded symbols of oppression and domination(see 1968) which exist within even the smallest and seemingly most insignificant "debrisof mass culture" (see Buck-Morss on Benjamin, 1989, p. ix). Moreover, I considered thework of Buck-Morss, 1989, Eiland, 2007 and Szondi. 1961 who suggest interpretations ofBenjamin's intent and purpose in the Arcades project and possible applications ofmontage as a method of analysis. At this point, then, it seems best to move into themontage chapter itself and thus begin the analysis stage of this research.100Chapter FourAN ICONOGRAPHY OF EXCLUSION: "MASCULINE DOMINATION", MASSMEDIA AND MONTAGEIntroductionIn the previous chapter I outlined Walter Benjamin's montage technique andargued that his experimental approach to studying mass culture might offer a usefulmethod for tracing doxic notions of the feminine in contemporary media representationsof ideal (deviant) femininity (see Bourdieu, 2001). Furthermore, I called attention toBenjamin's treatment of the cultural "debris" of society as "documents of barbarism",that is, as documents inscribed by a long history of class oppression (1968, p. 256). Iindicated that such a conceptualization informed my own intention to adapt the montagemethod in order to uncover the gendered and classed symbolism of a seemingly distantpast as it has been "remade" (Walkerdine et al, 2001) in the contemporary momentthrough media representations of ideal (deviant) femininity and obscured by genderednarratives of empowerment (see discussion of girl power discourse and symbolism inchapter two). My key argument here, as it has been throughout this thesis, is that suchembedded and obscured symbolism contributes to the conditions in which socialexclusion along gender and class lines is perpetuated even as the social nature of suchexclusion is obscured by gendered narratives of individualism, free choice and personalaccountability.In this chapter I examine how a selection of contemporary mass media (drawnfrom mainstream magazines, newspapers and television) depict femininity, and I explorethe symbolic connections such representations might have to the "historical structures ofthe masculine order" (Bourdieu, 2001, p. 5). I use the technique of montage to offer a101critical exploration of visual, textual and discursive media representations of ideal(deviant) femininity circulating in the contemporary moment.' ` Although there areundoubtedly many more themes which could have been drawn from the media samples Ihave selected, I have divided this chapter's montage into the following two thematicsections: (1) Sexualizing and fetishizing the feminine; and. (2) Constructing ideal anddeviant gendered need through private trauma. Each section begins with a collage inwhich I position samples of contemporary media against fragments of historical andcontemporary literature, and/or against a historical image from one of two mid-nineteenthcentury women's magazines. "The juxtaposition of images and text is meant to producea cognitive experience in readers, who can see the theoretical point in a certain way"(Buck-Morss, 2002, p. 326). I then move forward in each section to analyse acontemporary media sample through the theoretical lens drawn up in chapter one. 60 Theaim of such purposeful juxtaposition is to provide a "jarring" of the mind (Goodman,2003, p. 159) which is, I would argue, a necessary condition of "reflexivity" or theintentional "alienation" of analytical thought from what Bourdieu (2001) calls theparadox of doxa. 61 In other words, I use the juxtaposition of multi-media images,59 In order of appearance in the chapter the media samples are as follows: Maclean's magazine front cover,January, 1, 2007; Marie Claire magazine "Married with Accessories" photo series, March, 2005; TheVancouver Sun articles on "Sherry Cowx", November, 18, 2000 & November 21, 2001; textual referencesto The Swan, 2003-2004 and Extreme Markeover, 2003-2006.60 My inspiration for this adaptation of Benjamin's method comes from Goodman (2003) who describes heruse of montage as, "cbrush'[ing] theory and historical data against each other for the spark to ignite myunderstanding in a non-linear process that circles back and forth between data, historiography and theory"(p. 159). Although obviously not a historiography, this thesis chapter does attempt to 'brush' theory, dataand historical media and literary observations against each other in order to 'ignite' the same sort of critical`spark'61 For "reflexivity" see Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992 and for intentional and analytical "alienation" (asdistinct from her discussion of "world alienation") see Arendt, n.d. from APH in HAPLC (1923-1975), pp.2-3. As I stated in an earlier description of this chapter (see Chapter one, Section III "Summary ofChapters", Chapter four), it is not my intention to suggest that the montage method can in any way removeanalysis or knowledge from our deeply embodied (Bourdieu, 2000) understanding of the world. I suggestonly that montage can help to disrupt such "habits of thinking" (Young-Bruehl, 2006, p. 10 on Arendt's102discourses and texts to call attention to particular markings of gender and socialstatus/location as they manifest in new ways within particular samples of contemporarygendered media.Thus the montage in this chapter serves two interrelated purposes. First, itprovides an analysis of doxic symbolically embedded notions of gender, of how historicalclass divisions are frequently inscribed through gender (see Lawler. 2005a, 2005b;McRobbie, 2005b; Skeggs, 2001, 2005) and of how our awareness of such repetition istransformed into "acceptance" (see Bourdieu on the paradox qf doxa, 2001, pp. 1-2).Secondly, this chapter contextualizes and historicizes the smaller sample of genderedyouth media which was used during the interviews with the six young women involved inthis research. Finally, and in relation to the key argument that I wish to make in thisthesis, I note that the fundamental importance of historical memory underlies bothpurposes and is Arendtian in its foundation. That is to say, I tie Arendtian concerns withradical thoughtlessness (as such thoughtlessness can render otherwise intolerable notionsbanal), social conditions within which humanity becomes superfluous, and worldalienation to what I suggest are the potentially anesthetising effects of the 'piling-up' 62 inconcerns with how we think about issues and events in the world). And so, with specific reference to thisinvestigation, such disruptions in thinking might help us to identify those notions of femininty which wemight otherwise accept as natural or normal.62 In his discussion of the world's collective desensitization to violence in the media reporting on the 1994genocide in Rwanda Philip Gourevitch (1998) notes that:"Nile piled-up dead of political violence are a generic staple of our information diet these days,and according to the generic report, all massacres are created equal...except for the names and thelandscape, it reads like the same story from anywhere in the world... These stories flash up fromthe void and, just as abruptly, return there. The anonymous dead and their anonymous killersbecome their own context. The horror becomes absurd (p.187)His phrase, "piled-up" stuck with me as did his description of the "void" (void of thought, void of feeling,void of context and therefore void of connection to reality) to which such "piled-up" media images return.Although the phrase literally describes piles of human bodies as well as an allusion to the parallel 'piling-up' of related media reports I have used it here because it so effectively suggests the making of our publicand collective desensitization to horrific or offensive/oppressive media images.103public memory of sexualized. fetishized, pathologized and deeply class-inscribed mediarepresentations of femininity.My understanding and use of Arendt's conceptualization of historical memoryand its relationship to the notions I have just mentioned requires some explanation.Therefore, I begin this chapter with a brief discussion of the notions outlined above (andtheir connection to Arendt's articulation of the importance of collective memory) inrelation to their particular relevance to this thesis investigation of economicallydisadvantaged young women's reconciliations of media representations of ideal (deviant)femininity. I then move on to explain the connection between such Arendtian concernswith public memory and Benjamin's theoretical understanding of the inherentlyrecollective nature of the montage method. Following the discussion on `remembering' inpublic spaces, I move into the main body of the montage itself.On memory, the "paradox of doxa" and combating "human superfluity"[T]he path paved by thinking, this small track of non-time which the activity of thoughtbeats within the time-space of mortal men [sic] and into which the trains of thought, ofremembrance and anticipation, save whatever they touch from the ruin of historical andbiographical time (Arendt, 1954/2006, p. 13).My central point in this thesis is that doxic "social relations of domination"(Bourdieu, 2001, p. 8) embedded within ubiquitous contemporary media representationsof ideal (deviant) femininity (together with dominant discourses of genderedempowerment which frequently underpin such representations) contribute to the socialconditions which negate human particularity and in which the "distinct and equal" statusof all humans fails to be recognized within plural, public spaces (see Arendt, 1963,1958/2006 and Curtis on Arendt, 1999). These are the conditions, I suggest, that104reproduce exclusion along the interconnecting lines of gender, social location andeconomic status. In Arendtian terms, these are the conditions of a radical and collectivethoughtlessness which is connected to a kind of cultural memory loss (see 1971. pp. 3-16).I proceed from the argument that we might understand the now entirely ordinarymedia proliferation of representations of sexualized, fetishized and pathologizedfemininity as contributing to the rendering of femininity superfluous in public spaces (seeCurtis on Arendt, 1999). Furthermore, I would argue that the thoughtless or banal'acceptance" (see Bourdieu on the paradox of. doxa, 2001, p. 1) of such representations inmainstream culture belies the significance of the continued reproduction of such imageswithin the world. Moreover, I would suggest that the banal ubiquity of suchrepresentations is of particular significance to young women whose daily experiences incircumstances of economic disadvantage are enmeshed with popular discourses whichconflate consumer choice with gendered empowerment and freedom (see Gonick, 2006;Griffin, 2004; Harris, 2004a; McRobbie, 2004a). On one level, the prolific and oftencontradictory media representations of femininity can mark such representations (withinthe public imaginary) as disposable forms of innocuous entertainment (see McRobbie,2004a). In addition, dominant discourses of gendered empowerment paradoxicallysuggest that prolific media representations of doxic femininity are alternately harmless orempowering to a media-savvy generation of young women who have grown up under the(problematic) aegis of girl power or are evidence of young women's status as equalcitizens (Griffin, 2004; McRobbie, 2004a). From an Arendtian perspective, the real105conditions of exclusion, of the rendering of some humans superfluous in public space, arethus forgotten.Arendt would have us 'pave a path' through such spaces of occluded awarenessby way of "thinking [which] delves into the depths of the past" in order to see howfragments of the past appear or "crystallize" in the present (1968. p. 38-51). As Idiscussed in chapter three.. Arendt's metaphor of crysialliattion explains how a dialecticalengagement with the complex relationship between experience, theory, historical contextand hermeneutic analysis might briefly illuminate a crystallization of the past in thepresent (ibid.) . 63 Thus, from an Arendtian perspective the 'fragmented' recollectioneffected through montage might open interesting spaces for thinking about the potentialconsequences of the symbolic reproduction of doxic 'relations' of masculine domination(Bourdieu, 2001) in media representations of ideal (deviant) femininity in particularrelation to the experience of young women living in difficult social and economiccircumstances. Therefore, following Buck-Morss (1989), I would argue that Benjamin's"reconstruct[ion] [of] an experiential world through the montage method offers thepossibility for "a coherence of vision necessary for philosophical reflection" (Buck-Morss, p. 23).63 I have quoted more of the passage here for reference:"...this thinking, fed by the present, works with the 'thought fragments' it can wrest from the pastand gather about itself Like a pearl diver who descends to the bottom of the sea, not to excavatethe bottom and bring it to light but to pry loose the rich and the strange, the pearls and the coral inthe depths, and to carry them to the surface, this thinking delves into the depths of the past — butnot in order to resuscitate it the way it was and to contribute to the renewal of extinct ages. Whatguides this thinking is the conviction that although the living is subject to the ruin of the time, theprocess of decay is at the same time a process of crystallization, that in the depth of the sea, intowhich sinks and is dissolved what once was alive, some things 'suffer a sea-change' and survive innew crystallized forms and shapes that remain immune to the elements..." (Arendt, 1968, pp.50-51 ).106Buck-Morns (1989) notes that the allegorical mode allows Benjamin to makevisibly palpable the experience of a world in fragments, in which the passing of timemeans not progress but disintegration" (p. 18). Speaking of his own desire to "reconstructan experiential world' through montage, Benjamin wrote: the eternal is in every case fit•more the ruffle on a dress than an idea (in Buck-Morss. 1989, p. 23). For Benjamin, the`ruffle' stands as a metaphor - a symbol in which traces of our fragmented histories andideologies are embedded. Accordingly, his methods rest on the supposition that that anexamination of such concrete and transient cultural items disrupts the sense ofprogression common to a traditional academic study of "ideas". Thus montage seeks to`remember' (or locate) the collectively forgotten past in the present and also, importantly,the future. In other words, in reclaiming such forgotten fragments of the past Benjamin'smethod is able to tease out and pull forward those threads of historically repeatingoppression (as they appear in material 'documents of barbarism' or media representationsof ideal (deviant) femininity) which otherwise weave unremarkably through the largerpatterns of the world's perceived history. 64Although the montage presented in this thesis has been (necessarily) adapted, Ibelieve it follows Benjamin's essential intent to recognize and reveal "fragmented"glimpses of the "eternal" and enduring in contemporary social moments of experienceand representation (see Buck-Morss, 1989). To use Bourdieu's sociological language, Iuse montage, with its purposeful cutting and juxtaposition of the past and the present, to64 Buck-Morss describes the practical application of Benjamin's method as it appears in his essay,"Naples":[In the essay] an experiment is underway, how images, gathered by a person walking the streets ofa city, can be interpreted against the grain of idealist literary style. The images are not subjectiveimpressions, but objective expressions. The phenomena — buildings, human gestures, spatialarrangements- are "read" as a language in which a historically transient truth (and the truth ofhistorical transiency) is expressed concretely, and the city's social formation becomes legiblewithin perceived experience. (p. 27)107"spark" (Goodman, 2003, p. 159) an analytical recognition of doxic femininities as theyare symbolically reproduced, naturalized and rendered disposable in the world and as partof the world's "inheritance" of symbolic/masculine domination (2001). Finally I suggestthat with this chapter's montage operating as a contextual backdrop. our own 'memories'of progress might be disrupted so that in the following chapter we might identifyseemingly outmoded femininities appearing in contemporary media even as they are`remade' (Walkerdine et al, 2001) in contemporary culture and "appropriated" (Willis,2003) by the young women who participated in this research. I now move forward intothe first thematic section of this chapter.108Sexualizing and fetishizing the feminine: the banality of (symbolic) violenceTime deepens definition and contrast. but the imprint of the image has been there fromthe start (Buck-Morss on montage.1989, p.7).In this section I explore two primary media depictions of femininity which reflectand reproduce what I suggest is a historically significant, contemporary social trend tosexualize and fetishize femininity and the female body (see McRobbie. 2004a). I drawupon Bourdieu's work in Masculine Domination (2001) and the related work ofMcRobbie (2004, 2005) and Skeggs (2001, 2005) in order to trace the "symbolicdimension of male domination" in the social field of media (Bourdieu, 2001, p. 3) and toobserve contemporarily "rearranged" class divisions symbolically ingrained in mediarepresentations of particular ideal (deviant) femininities (also see Lawler, 2005a, 2005b;McRobbie, 2005a; Skeggs, 2001, 2005). In addition, I argue that the two mediadepictions which I have chosen to explore in this section seem to reflect an increasedsocial tolerance toward (or obliviousness to the effect of) images of gendered violence. 65I suggest that the fact that representations of sexualized/fetishized femininity (marked byviolence) are "still possible" (Benjamin, 1968, p. 257) and are perpetuated through massmedia can be understood as an example of what Bourdieu (2001) calls the paradox ofdoxa or,the fact that the order of the world as we find broadly respected...that theestablished order, with its regulations of domination, its rights and prerogatives,privileges and injustices, ultimately perpetuates itself so easily. (p.1)Furthermore, I connect Bourdieu's notion of this 'paradox' of our social condition toArendt's concerns with thoughtlessness and the potential effects of our unconscious65 I base this argument on the location of both the Maclean's magazine (2007) image (see fig.1) and theMarie Claire magazine (2005) series of images (see figs. 3-7) in popular, mainstream magazines.109acceptance of the now banal (see 1963, 1958/1998) saturation of our public spaces with`doxic' and essentially superfluous images of the sexualized and fetishized female form(see 1963. 1958/1998 and Curtis, 1999). Finally. following McRobbie (2004a). I callattention to how elements of contemporary discourses of gendered empowermentunderpin particular representations of ideal (deviant) femininity and operate to set theideal or deviant terms through which young women are seen to respond to suchdepictions (see Gonick, 2006; Harris, 2004a; McRobbie, 2004a).I begin the first section of this theme with a visual collage of text and imagewithin which text taken from Nabokov's Lolita (1970/1991), and Atwood's Penelopiad(2005) is "brushed against" (see Benjamin, 1968) a 2007 Maclean 's magazine coverphoto (fig.1). I then move into the main discussion for this section. Following thediscussion, I introduce the second section of this theme with the juxtaposition of anadvertisement from a mid-twentieth century Chatelaine magazine (fig. 2), selectedimages from a 2005 Marie Claire magazine fashion photo spread (figs. 3-8) and texttaken from Atwood's Penelopiad (2005) and from a translation of the epic poem TheOdyssey (Lattimore, 1967).110kJ 12 1,^ 3^1 4 17,^7^JFigure I. lbciecm s magazine front em cr, January I. 2007 (u d With permission)Kiddie Mourn, A Lament by the Maids:We were told we were dirty. We were dirty. Dirt was ourconcern, dirt was our business, dirt was our specialty, dirtwas our fault. We were the dirty girls. If our owners or thesons of our owners or a visiting nobleman or the sons of avisiting nobleman wanted to sleep with us, we could notrefuse...if we were pretty children our lives were worse...wewould never have a wedding feast of our own, no rich giftswould be exchanged for us; our bodies had little value...The Penelopiad (Atwood, 2005, p.13-14)Another, fanciful Lolitaperhaps more real than Lolita;overlapping, encasing her...and having no will,no consciousness —indeed,no life of her own.Lolita (Nabokov, 1970/1991, p. 62)By challenging Humbert's mythical and literaryinterpretation(s) of Lolita's sexual awakening, Nabokov, likecontemporary feminist critics, rewrites and reinterpretsmyths about female sexuality, "deviance," and"normalcy."...Nabokov shows how the arbitrary concepts of"deviance" and "normalcy" can be used as a means ofmanipulation-and exploitation. (Goldman, 2004, pp. 101-102) 111Girls' bodies as fetishized and pathologized "bait"The horror, the horror...this was the expression of some kind of belief, it had candour, ithad conviction, it had a vibratiml, note of revolt in its whisper. it had the appalling face ofa glimpsed truth-the strange commingling of desire and hate. (Conrad, 1999, p. 88)Nayak and Kehily (2008) note that "a feature of consumer culture is the increasedhyper-sexualization of girls; soft porn images, playboy logos and lewd slogans existalongside 'girl power' messages and feminist themes" (p. 68). In this section I analyse arepresentation of hyper-sexualized femininity and I note that the image reproduces thecommercial hyper-sexualization and fetishization of femininity which its headline (andthe article which accompanies it) repudiates. First, I attempt to account for the tensionwhich exists between the article's intention to critique the conuriodification andsexualization of very young femininity. I then examine what I propose are thefragmented, symbolic and doxic markings of gender and class embedded within theimage and text. I suggest that through an examination of such symbolism we might beginto see how media representations of sexualized, fetishized and pathologized femininitycome to stand as 'true representations of particular femininities in the public imaginaryand thus the 'regulations of domination' of 'the established order' are perpetuated(Bourdieu, 2001, p 1). Following Arendt, I would argue that representations like the onefound on the front cover of a national news magazine (fig. 1) (and the text whichaccompanies the image) contribute to "the ongoing circulation of 'truth cults' or forms of`mere appearance' in relation to particular femininities (Dillabough, 2008, forthcomingon Arendt). Over time, the 'mere appearances' become static and banal — renderingparticular femininities superfluous in public space (Arendt, 1963, 1958/1998).112On January 1 st. 2007 Canada's dominant national newsmagazine, Maclean's, ranthe cover headline, "Why do we dress our daughters like skanks?" across a disturbingphotograph of a pre-pubescent female model (fig.1). Her long hair is tousled andpartially obscures her face. She is posed with her legs spread, clothed in fishnetstockings and a denim mini-skirt. Her cropped, hot pink tank top says, 'made you look'.In the photo which accompanies the article inside, the tank top has changed: it reads,"jailbait". A selection from the text which accompanies the cover photograph declares:The eroticization of girlhood-once the stuff of Russian literature, Atom Egoyanfilms, Japanese comic books and good old-fashioned American porn-has beenseeping ever more into the larger culture. Now it is one of our dominantaesthetics. In a Lolita-tinged culture, whether the sell is "my body is under-developed, but I am precocious" or "my brain is underdeveloped, but I amstacked," the message - is the same: exploit me. (George, 2007, p.36)On one level it might be noted that although the author of the article directs astrong critique against media marketing strategists who capitalize on the commercialpower of hyper-sexual young femininity, in dressing a very young girl in clothing andaccessories which are symbolic of the pornography industry and placing her on the frontcover next to a stark and sensational headline, Maclean's magazine itself has participatedin such exploitation in the name of selling magazines. 66 Moreover, the symbolicreferences within the image and the text draw upon discourses of "moral panic" (seeGonick, 2006) to describe the dangers of `dress[ing] our daughters like skanks'. AsPomerantz (2006) notes the moral panic over hyper-sexual feminine fashion and style66 According to Canadian Magazines review website, Maclean's January 1, 2007 magazine "had one of itsbest single copy sales". As Pomerantz (2006) points out, such images, accompanied by headlines whichfuel "moral panic" over girls' dress frequently play out on the front pages of mainstream newspapers andmagazines and have prompted some Canadian schools to adopt dress codes which seek to regulate youngwomen's clothing (p. 1-5).113frequently plays out on the front pages of mainstream newspapers and magazines.Bourdieu (1998) identifies the increasing tendency for political and intellectual newsmedia to advance an agenda of "self-serving.. attention seeking...headline grabbing . 'ahead of an "unspectacular devotion to the collective interest as part of a dominant ethosof neo-liberal individualism (p. 4). Sex. as 'they say, sells and the market is ruled by a"moral Darwinism which...establishes the struggle of all against all and cynicism as thenorm of all practices" (p. 102). What I find most interesting, though, is that although thejournalist is clear in her condemnation of the permissive extension of our Western cultureof commodification to the sexualization and fetishization of very young girls, she adoptswhat I would call misogynistic tones when she describes the young girls who embody the1014a-tinged culture' of female fashion.In the sample from the article cited above, young girls who consume and embodythe symbolism of the pornography industry are `precocious"skanks', their bodies are`stacked' and present dangerous 'bait' for an unwary consumer of such fetishized images(`jailbait') (pp. 37-39). Later in the article and as part of a strong condemnation ofcompanies that fetishize and sexualize girlhood to market their products, the authorsuggests that marketers are "grooming [young girls] to be promiscuous consumers" (p.40). I suggest that taken together, the language and the photographs in this article createthe impression that young girls who embody the hyper-sexual symbolism popular in thecontemporary moment (and perpetuated by mass media) are asking to be exploited(`exploit me', p. 37). Those young women who resist such fashion trends are implicitlyframed as "empowered", as having built up enough "self-esteem" or as having parentswho have the moral fortitude to resist such fashion trends (pp. 39-40). Though,114paradoxically, the success of "twenty years" of gendered "empowerment programs" andyoung women's "empowered" sexuality is also implicitly implicated in the "surfacing" ofthe ''Lolita moment - in contemporary consumer culture (p. 40). By comparison. theauthor's initial reference to the pornography industry seems rather benign. 'Good old-fashioned American porn' is positioned beside references to arty films and a well-known(if controversial) work of literature. A work of literature, incidentally, whose initialcritics were also divided between understanding Lolita as either a desperate victim or "anabnormal sexual deviant deserving or inviting exploitation" (Goldman, 2004, p. 103).Following Skeggs (2004), Nayak and Kehily (2008) note that "categorizations ofclass, gender and race" are best understood as cultural "processes [which] work at thelevel of the body to produce cultural characteristics that fix and constrain some socialgroups, while enabling others to become resourceful and mobile" (p. 131). Moreover, theauthors note that symbolic signifiers of "feminine excess" or "excessive sexuality" areconnected to the bodies of working-class women (ibid.). But as Lawler (2005b) notes,within media representations of "pathologized" femininities class divisions are notalways invoked as "explicit[]...signifiers of class... but [can be] a kind of second-ordersignifier that invokes an innate atavism, ignorance and lack" (p. 124). She explains:The drawing of class divisions is displaced and individualized. It is displacedonto individuals (or families) who are approved or disapproved, normalized orpathologized. [...] Gender is central here, as one axis around which classdivisions are drawn and maintained (and, of course, vice versa). (ibid.)And so, in the Maclean's article we come to understand a particular category of youngwoman, one with "strong" (good) parents or for whom "empowerment programs"`worked' (but not too well), and one who is implicitly and symbolically marked as idealor legitimate via a middle-class judgment of normal (see McRobbie, 2005a; Skeggs,1152005). Though class is never mentioned within the Maclean's article, I suggest that inthe symbols inscribed on the body of the model and in the language and tone used todescribe young women who adopt such fashions we can observe a thoughtless (Arendt.1958/1998) or doxic (Bourdieu, 2001) invocation of "an overly abundant and unrulysexuality that places them dangerously close to the reviled figure of the prostitute"(Nayak & Kehily. 2008, p. 132). And, following Lawler (2005a), I would argue thatreaders are meant to feel "disgusted" by the notion that the "other" (the 'skank') hasentered dominant culture to become "the little deadly demon among the wholesomechildren" (Nabokov, 1970/1991, p. 17). Thus, we can see how the "social relations ofdomination" (Bourdieu, 2001) come to be perpetuated in the public imaginary eventhrough media which positions itself as critical of the sexualization and fetishization ofyoung femininity and which is not, ostensibly, addressing issues of "class".As I have shown, media representations of ideal (deviant) femininity can operateas (implied) narratives of exclusion signified by 'normalized and pathologized' feminineidentities which are embedded in class divisions (see Lawler, 2005a, cited above andBourdieu, 1986). In other words, through such representations we come to know 'what'is ideal and 'what' is deviant (see Arendt, 1958/1998 on the difference between 'what'and 'who'). The problem from an Arendtian perspective is that, over time and throughrepetition, fixed (and socially constructed) characteristics of ideal and deviant femininitycome to elide the "unfolding 'who' (Dillabough, 2008, forthcoming). We becomehabituated or accustomed to the fetishizing of the female form and begin to conflatefemininity with a series of static, sexualized and pathologized images. Moreover, suchconstructions of female identity come to circulate as "symbolic goods" (Bourdieu, 2001)116which, in this case, are used to sell a particular idea about young girls (moral panic,excessive sexuality, threats to middle-class values) and to provide a competitive edge inthe business of selling magazines. At one point in the article the author asks. -what doesit mean for little girls when the very things of their lives - kilts, puppies, angels, pink.princesses - become fetishized to the point of rendering them obscene" (George, 2007,p.36)? I would answer that femininity itself is rendered banal - or superfluous (Arendt,1958/98); that we come to act as though it may be possible to treat [femininity] as onetreats other 'material — (p. 188) and that, ultimately, the commercialized and sexualizedfetishization femininity reinforces the "elision of the person behind the sexuality"(Goldman, 2004, p. 102).In the following passages I move forward to explore a series of images taken froma mainstream women's magazine (Marie Claire, 2005) in which a similar 'elision of theperson' and inscription of class divisions on female bodies occurs throughout therepresentation. In a nine page fashion photo series, material goods (clothing, accessories,cleaning products) and symbolic goods (the female body, a particular kind of femininityleading a particular lifestyle, children as accessories of lifestyle "choice") combine toform a sexualized and fetishized image of femininity which is explicitly inscribed with acrude violence, emblematic of an ancient misogyny. I begin this segment of analysiswith a collage in which I juxtapose: one of nine images from a fashion photo array titled,"Married with Accessories" (Marie Claire magazine, 2005); a dish towel advertisementtitled "HUSBAND BEATS WIFE with this fast drying dish towel" 67 (Chatelainemagazine, 1949); and, passages taken from Atwood's reframing of Homer's Odyssey(Penelopiad, 2005) and Lattimore's (1967) translation of the Odyssey.67 Font differences in the original.117lAkIS13•01,1)., BEMS *Iff.WITVI 114IS FAST DRONG DIS4-I 'TOWEL r.Wr1/1.7 1, ,t1IT DRYS SO FASTIT WON A PATENTN (LP UrL:r.•^ jorltsc,Figure 2. Chatelaine magazine, 1949 — Husband^ Figure 3. Marie Claire magazine, spring 2005, "Married WithBeats Wife" Dry-Me-Dry dish towel advertisement Accessories" fashion photo series (used with permission)we are the maids/the ones you killed/the ones you failedwe danced in air/our bare feet twitched/it was not fairwith every goddess, queen, and bitch/from there to here/you scratched your itchwe did much less/than what you did/you judged us badyou had the spear/you had the word/at your commandwe scrubbed the blood/of our dead/paramours from the floors, from chairsfrom stairs, from doors/we knelt in water/while you staredat our hare feet /it was not fair/you licked our fearit gave you pleasure/you raised your hand/you watched us . 4111we danced on air/the ones you failed/the ones you killed,The Penelopiad (Atwood, 2005, pp. 5-6)68Odysseus: "...lead all the maidservants out of the well-built palace„ and hew them with the thin edge of the sword...". So hespoke, and the women all in a huddle came out with terrible cries of sorrow, and the big tears falling. First they carried away thebodies of all the dead men. „Odysseus himself directed them and hurried them on. They carried the bodies out. They had to. Then,after they had done this, the women washed the beautiful chairs and tables clean„.Now the thoughtful Telemachos began speaking among them" "1 would not take away the lives of these creatures by any clean death,for they_. have slept with the suitors" So he spoke, and taking the cable of a dark-prowed ship...the sleep given them wass hateful, sotheir heads were all in a line, and each had her neck caught fast in a noose. so that their death would he most pitiful. They struggledwith their feet for a little, not for very long." (Lattimore, 1967, p. 332)118Women's bodies rendered "superfluous"Figure three (see collage above) is part of a series of photographs 69 whichshowcase the latest accessories for the spring 2005 fashion season (Marie Claire. 2005).In each of the photographs a woman's body is dressed in expensive designer clothing,ornamented with even pricier accessories and posed carrying out a domestic task(laundry, dishes, gardening, sweeping etc.). Three enormous gold and turquoise ringsadorn the impossibly manicured hands of a woman who, we are meant to believe, isscrubbing the bathroom floor on her hands and knees whilst wearing a short, tight skirtand an equally tight low cut tank top ("top, $575. skirt, $650...St.John"). She has beenposed so that her right breast is exposed and her neck and back arch unnaturally. Herhead has been cut out of the frame of the photograph. In the following image we seeanother example of the stiltedness which marks all of these images:Figure 4. Marie Claire magazine, March 2005,"Married with Accessories" (used with permission)69 Most of the photographs from this series appear throughout this section119In one of two photographs which are not marked by a commercialized sexualization (seeLevy, 2005) of the female form, the model's stiffly posed body is wedged between twolaundry appliances (fig. 4). Her positioning bears little resemblance to the experience of`doing' laundry. As in all of the images, she is a headless mannequin for the clothing(and cleaning products) on display. The images seem to treat people as "symbolicgoods" (Bourdieu, 2001) to be accessorized (the female model) or to accessorize alifestyle (the children in the images). In the next image (fig. 5) three little boys stare pasttheir headless mother — their own heads displayed on a window ledge like pearls on asting.Higure 5. Marie Claire magazine, March 2005,"Married with Accessories" (used with permission)In most of the images, spring 2005 fashion trends adorn a headless female bodywhich is posed in a parody of sexual pleasure (neck and back arched, legs spreadunnaturally) or from the perspective of an 'absent' voyeur (camera angles shot 'up' theskirts the model wears). The model's body becomes the visual embodiment of120Benjamin's "gaily decked-out corpse" (in Buck-Morss, 1989, p. 101) and the "life forceof sexuality" is transferred onto a stylized image of a headless 'wife' symbolicallyreproducing a commodified and "inorganic" illusion of sexuality.The overt sexuality embedded within these images seems to be indicative of whatNayak and Kehily (2008) have observed is a contemporary "re-valuation and re-coding ofthe relationship between morality and the feminine" (p. 69). Levy (2005) calls attentionto what she calls our contemporary fascination with "raunch culture" which _is marked bythe rise of mainstream fashions and trendy activities which co-opt the symbols of thepornography industry (e.g., playboy bunny pendants, stiletto shoes, pole dancing classes)and by a message that celebrates a woman's "right to look at get Brazilianbikini waxes [and to] no longer worry about objectification or misogyny" (p. 4). Hyper-sexual commercialized femininity thus labels feminism irrelevant by normalizing theobjectification and sexualized fetishization of femininity (see McRobbie, 2004a, 2005a).We might observe, then, that this fashion photo array taps into the `raunch culture'sensibilities of the marketplace throu gh which "the repudiation of feminism is invokedonly to be summarily dismissed" (McRobbie, 2005a, p. 259). 70 McRobbie (2005a)explains:The shadow of disapproval is introduced...only to be instantly dismissed asbelonging to the past, to a time when feminists used to object to [exploitive]imagery...objection is pre-empted with irony...feminism is invoked so that itmight be undone; for male viewers tradition is restored...while for girls what isproposed is a movement beyond feminism, to a more comfortable zone wherewomen are now free to choose for themselves. (p. 259)70 In several discussions which address the objectification of women in media advertisements and suchadvertisements' implicit dismissal of feminism, McRobbie explains that just as rising popular knowledge ofleftist social and political critiques of oppression has been mistaken for their irrelevance, so has the massproduction and consumption of hyper-sexualized femininity been conflated with the 'empowerment' ofwomen (1999, 2004, 2005).121Thus any critique of the violent subjugation of femininity and feminine sexualityon display in the "Married with Accessories" photo array can be 'pre-empted with irony'.Implicit within these commercial images of a sexualized female body on her (its) knees.scrubbing floors is the assumption that the modern, empowered woman is free — nolonger a slave, real or metaphorical. But if, as Nayak and Kehily (2008) suggest,dominant culture is experiencing a 're-coding' of sexual norms and values in mediated,popular spaces, such 're-coding' also (as the authors point out) works to reproduce classdivisions along gendered lines (see Lawler, 2005a, 2005b; McRobbie, 2005a; Skeggs,2001, 2005).Like the image of "deviant" femininity discussed in the first section of this theme(see fig.1), the body of the Marie Claire magazine (2005) model is marked by classedand gendered symbolism which invokes the "reviled figure of the prostitute" (Nayak &Kehily, 2008, p. 132) through "excessive sexuality" (Skeggs, 2004, 2005). Skeggs(2004) explains how media marks the bodies of women in particular ways which invokeor "give[] symbolic shape to the meanings of class" (Nayak & Kehily, 2008, p. 132):Understanding representations is central to any analysis of class. Representationworks with a logic of supplementarity, condensing fears and anxieties into oneclassed symbol...The proliferation and reproductions of classed representationsover such a long period of time demonstrates the understated ubiquity of class,showing how it is continually references, even when not directly spoken. (2004, p.117 in Nayak & Kehily, 2008, p. 132)In most of the images, the model is posed in a caricaturised representation of prostitution(i.e., with her legs spread, back arched unnaturally, breasts partially covered and thrustout by the arching back). In all of the images her body is 'accessorized' with symbols ofgendered domestic labour (brooms, mops, rubber gloves, cleaning appliances, smallgardening tools and young children). In the following image, the model is positioned, as122in the collaged image (fig. 3), on her knees (this time to sweep). One hand grasps herankle so that her back curves awkwardly and one partially exposed breast is presented forthe viewer's consumption alongside the "$515 Sonia Rykiel pumps"(2005, p.177).Figure 6. Marie Claire magazine March, 2005, - Married With Accessories"(used with permission)"Narciso Rodriguez ($580)" stiletto heels adorn the feet of the woman in figure seven.She rests her foot on an open dishwasher, arches her back and bends over to the kitchencounter affording the viewer a partial view up her full, "$3500" skirt.123Figure 7. Marie Claire magazine March, 2005,"Married with Accessories" (used with permission)The same upward angle is used in figure eight so that the image offers another partialview up the back of the model's skirt as she poses in high-fashion, high-heeled shoes, ashort skirt, hedge sheers and a purse full of gardening tools.Figure 8. Marie Claire magazine [March, 2005,"Married with Accessories"(used with permission)124So, while social class is not the stated subject in this photo spread, the symbolicreferences inscribed on the body of the model "...rely]] on the process of interpretation todo the work of association" (Skeggs, 2005, p. 965).But if these symbolic references to gendered forms of class division are open to`interpretation' then the text on the first page of this fashion photo array leaves little roomfor doubt:Good help may be hard to find, but spring's crop of acid bright accessories aren't.Glossy handbags...candy-coloured sandals and day-glow jewellery have landed insuburbia and beyond. There goes the neighbourhood. (Marie Claire, 2005, p.174)The first sentence conjures up anachronistic aristocratic complaints about the 'inept'domestic servant. We are given to understand that the well-dressed woman in this photoarray is cooking, cleaning, gardening and mothering because she has not found domesticlabour which meets her 'superior' standards. The symbolism of a select society closed to`undesirable' or "disgusting" Others (see Lawler, 2005a) is reinforced in the second linewhich locates the photo shoot within 'suburbia' and invokes the fear of 'less desirable'elements of society 'invading' the enclaves of middle-class:[fashions portrayed as slightly vulgar and definitely garish] have landed insuburbia and beyond. There goes the neighbourhood. (Marie Claire, 2005, p.174)Thus, these transparent references to traditionally marginalized populations are"superimposed" (Buck-Morss, 1989) onto the accessories on display - the symbolism ofwhat were once freely called the "dangerous classes" (Fregier, 1840) both co-opted fortheir forbidden allure and, by implication, presented as deviant to the normative ideals ofthe privileged classes. We understand that while the gaudy colours and fabrics described125may be 'beneath' the women in this suburban neighbourhood they are also the height ofspring 2005 fashion and are therefore, briefly. legitimated. The model might be wearingexpensive. 'couture' clothing but her body is draped in a highly classed (andcontemporarily commercial) "excessive sexuality" (Skeggs, 2004, 2005), worn for itsfashionable titillation and as easily discarded once spring 2005 fashion madness haspassed. And so deeply classed forms of exclusion are given symbolic shape' in thisidealized representation of "middle-class women...who retain the ability to appropriateand transform working-class style at the expense of working-class women who remainfixed by their class position and the negative associations of earlier meanings" (Nayak &Kehily. 2008, p. 69). Curtis (1999), drawing on Arendt, describes such processes ofexclusion, memorably, as the "active conditions that nourish oblivion on the part of thosewho benefit and the radical enclaving of those who do not" (p. 3).Following on this notion of 'oblivion', I would argue that Marie Clairemagazine's (2005) representation of the fashion (and fashionable 'appropriations') for`spring 2005' is an example of what Bourdieu (1998) calls the "labour of symbolicinculcation" through which "real belief[s]" are forged out of dominant ideologies andmythologies (p. 29). In the "Married with Accessories" fashion series, the "safe" enclaveof middle-class 'suburbia' (see Curtis, 1999 on the "radical enclaving" of society) and ofgendered and idealized domesticity intersects with both "the reiteration [of] oneparticular — and particularly commercial-shorthand for sexiness" and explicit symbolicmarkings of brutality. Violence is repackaged and sold as sexy and so the images evokeboth horror and fascination - a "fascination [with] the abomination" (Conrad, 1999) —whilst the appeal to irony obscures our 'recollection' of gendered violence as126contemporarily relevant. Furthermore, class divisions are explicitly and implicitlyinvoked, 'remade' (Walkerdine et al. 2001) and inscribed on the body of the femalemodel through the symbolism of 'dangerous or 'excessive' sexuality (Skeggs. 2004.2005).Finally, I note that Benjamin's fascination with the "metaphysics of transiency"inherent to fashion was an acknowledgement of the "true face" of fashion as both a,, ...reified, fetishized commodity and as a class ideology" (Buck-Morss on Benjamin,1989, p. 23). Fashionable representations of the 'powerful' and 'unfettered' woman thusmake a paradoxical claim to progressiveness whilst maintaining a social status quo.Ultimately, this dichotomy renders the representation of fashionable signifiers (thenewest 'look', the trendy 'attitude' or 'lifestyle') as "objective expressions" of ourstratified social order (Benjamin in Buck-Morss, 1989). In Bourdieu's language, we can`see' the 'social relations of domination' inscribed on the accessories and clothing, andon the body of the model in the Marie Claire magazine (2005) fashion spread. Over time,the proliferation of such representations reinforces the stratification in the social world. Iwould argue that through these images the subjugation and sexualization of 'real' womencomes to be both fetishized and forgotten. Thus, media proliferation of commodifiedimages of femininity begin to render such deeply gendered 'relations of domination'(Bourdieu, 2001) banal (Arendt, 1958/98). In the second thematic section of this chapterI build on this argument by exploring two examples of mainstream news andentertainment media in which dichotomous constructions of gendered dependency revealour prevailing notions about 'what' (in the Arendtian sense, 1958/98) kinds of femininity127are ideal and thus included in legitimate society or deviant and therefore renderedillegitimate and excluded.Dichotomous dependency: legitimate and illegitimate constructions of gendered`need' through private traumaThe second theme of this montage explores media representations of femaledependency. I suggest that such depictions are framed as either ideal or deviant femalesubjectivities via the popular rhetoric of individualism, choice and self-improvement andsymbolic references to archetypal divisions between public/private, masculine/feminineand good/bad ways of being female within such divisions. As in the first section of thismontage, I draw upon the related theoretical work of Bourdieu (2001), McRobbie (2004,2005) and Skeggs (2001, 2005) to observe how, within the media samples to follow,seemingly outmoded class divisions are reinscribed on female bodies and reproducedthrough the traumatic narration (Arendt, 1963) of young women's experiences.Furthermore, I apply Arendt's concerns regarding the potentially anesthetising (orcollective memory obliterating) effects of the repetition of decontextualized andprivatized accounts of trauma in public spaces (1963) to these sociological observations.On one level the proliferation of media representations which connect particular sociallyconstructed markers of class to traumatic narrations of "deviant" feminine dependencyrenders such connections "natural" in the public imaginary through the operation ofhabitus (Bourdieu, 2001; Bullen & Kenway, 2004). Thus the essential Who of youngwomen living in disadvantaged circumstances comes to be publicly conflated with mediaconstructed What characteristics (see Arendt, 1958/98) and the structures of the "socialrelations of domination" are rendered invisible (Bourdieu, 2001). On another level, I put128forward the argument that because such trauma accounts are not (generally) positionedwithin a corresponding political and social context 71 they become disposable orsuperfluous in public space (see Curtis on Arendt. 1999). Finally. I call attention torecent work in feminist and youth cultural theory which, among other observations, notesthat.[in] contemporary [media] constructions of new femininities [.. .] women arepresented with the need for transformation and self-improvement in order to besuccessful in personal relationships...autonomous selfhood is produced as aproject of self-transformation and personal development... [and] thepsychopathology of contemporary femininities is culturally produced...bypresenting women's experiences as dilemmas that can be resolved throughpersonal development. (Blackman, 2004 in Nayak & Kehily, 2008, p. 144-145)I suggest that through an examination of the two examples of contemporary media whichwill be analysed in this section (Vancouver Sun, 2000/2001 and The Swan/ExtremeMakeover, 2004/2005) we might observe how different media sources with seeminglydivergent aims participate in the reproduction of naturalized notions of ideal and deviantfeminine dependency and are informed by gendered discourses of empowered,`autonomous selfhood'. My intention in both discussions is to reveal the contemporaryrelevance of seemingly outdated notions of femininity as a private, dependent subjectivityand to connect such observations to the theoretical and ethical concerns outlined above.I preface this thematic section with only one collage 72 of visual and textualimages which are (I believe) embedded with doxic symbolism relating to a theme offemale dependency. I 'brush' a contemporary Vancouver Sun newspaper photograph,accompanying headline (fig. 9) and text taken from official online advertising for ABCand FOX television network's respective reality makeover programs, Extreme Makeover71 See Bullock, Wyche & Williams (2001)72 Although this second theme has one collage, I refer to other sample texts and images throughout theanalysis as in the first thematic section.129and The Swan 'against' an advertisement in a 1938 edition of Ladies Home Journal (fig.10). I then move into the first discussion of this thematic section.130Check these facts with your doctoFticelor ,"Ly,cr brond^Ft 10 K,Kti,!,,1,1,-cu,1 it,^ ty;ar'I Is 4..,1474.. inehrowclisslppeor,.h.,ssoncnntrsited -LYsni"si I in soliition.Foilow east d^tns =or^9n ohno^an.numrsA MEMORY A HA. for SherryCan01„,,Jr,Vancouver11011T111'1 1 get its actthd " togetherlit „intto help thisdrug addict?' 1ti Maya' Philip ()twatosrcagiyouswdia“►niveraial action plan.G ittr apecii report Itvits attwOmtiown East de."^lit dirt tftmtraer.lo stutratoj,:xklg=h1=VIA^rgochlr Flu=Illroglitimtutrals.4%11g111., orwr brXriftw.watra- 1_.;,.sid^'ow^fird ••-•,J;.!^r".AV POWRIOW* trolata0I*^arta, r Id. 'au sowniaa1::=Zs,fzulrir ikadfriz =A^7preadurs sh44422141!".Figure 10 The 'all(' over SI117. hri^uttail- lodn. Novemner i^'MOO(t.„ed Nitll permiss.on)Vc4 socnno/ hot', Why do you deserve the Extreme Makeover? HowtlYt 'CI 101lion,^will it change your life? Besides altering yourpa I. iontL appearance, what is your biggest dream? Extremear d"IiSr1:r5V ii1 livcr,„„-^II Tis ,^woman, and she looks her best -rolyIndrr10t1^relaxed and radiant, as you can seefrom this picture - in the minutes afterW^she has injected herself with heroin.HY 4 ouIf s stlfc F,r^ (Nuttall-Smith, 2000, Al)hod the MC,ftsssitsn‘1:0"..C7;;;:1)Q0Sil. After years of floating aimlessly and being thrown„7„17',, life's crumbs, a gaggle of self- proclaimed "ugly,,°:,1",,„Nn, ducklings" will swim upstream to be transformed"N into a bevy of graceful beauties. THE SWAN, theMakeover, 2005Sherry Cowx is a beautiful youngFigure 9. Ladies Home Journal magazine, 1938,^new series that turns a fantasy into reality by'Lysol feminine hygiene' advertisement mirroring the classic fairy tale, premieresWednesday, April 7. The Swan, 2004131"Deviant" need and gendered "hope": "Fixing" Sherry Cowx 73About a year ago. Sherry Cowx could hardly get up without a flap of heroin. She knewthen, as she must know now, that she had no education, few job skills, no hobbies. fewusable social skills. She knew than that if she hoped to clean up and to stay clean, shewould have to change all that. She knew she would fail sometimes, and sometimes shehas. But Sherry Cowx is cleaning up her act (Nuttall-Smith. 2001, B1 "Sherry hasHope").In this section I begin with an analysis of the manifestation of dominant notions offemale deviancy and dependency which I identify as embedded within the imagery andtext of the two Vancouver Sun (Nuttall-Smith, 2000, 2001) media reports which claim topresent the life story of Sherry Cowx. I suggest that within these two mediarepresentations of gendered "deviance" and "dependency" we might observe the"dehistoricization and eternalization"74 of classed and gendered "relations ofdomination" (Bourdieu, 2001) and the conflation of geographic space and personhood(see Dillabough, 2004; Massey, 1994; Wright, 1997). Moreover, I call attention to howthe article frames Sherry Cowx's life story through archetypal divisions of good and evil(or good/bad) which "give symbolic shape to the meanings" of gender and "class"(Nayak & Kehily, 2008, p. 132). Finally, I discuss the Vancouver Sun articles usingArendtian political concerns about the potential consequences of a repetition ofdecontextualized traumatic narratives (infused with individualizing choice rhetoric) inpublic spaces (see 1963, 1971)."Sherry Cowx is a beautiful young woman, and she looks her best—relaxed andradiant, as you can see from this picture—in the minutes after she has injected herselfwith heroin" (Nuttall-Smith, 2000, Al). The photograph which accompanied this text71^•^•This image and some of the analysis was part of a joint presentation put together and delivered with Dr.Jo-Anne Dillabough at the Canadian Association of Geographers conference (2005) in London, Ontario,Canada.Italics in original.132(fig. 9) was reproduced again in the 2001 follow-up article. On one level we mightobserve that, taken together, the image and the text seem to paradoxically tie idealizedbeauty to dependency. In this case, a drug dependency which, from a dominant socialperspective, is a mark of deviancy (see Graham. 2007). But, we are told, her needinessmakes her beautiful which lends mainstream legitimacy to the otherwise deviant, non-citizen status bestowed upon her by virtue of her "unclean", 'drug-dependent'homelessness. As the articles progress, symbolic references to dependency and deviancyare repeated and "rearranged" (McRobbie, 2005a) as doxic (Bourdieu, 1998, 2001)gendered, classed and personalized commentaries on Cowx's homeless circumstances.In large, bold font the first lines of the introductory "A Fix for Sherry" (2000)article label Cowx a "drug addict". We are told she has a "beggar's voice", "rotted teeth","festering sores" and an abandoned son. She "uses" and "shoplifts", engages in "pettycrime" and sleeps in "flophouses". She once "fenced her mother's [belongings and]trust" and wears "bubblegum press-on nails" (2000, 2001). On the street she issurrounded, not by other humans, but with "an old junkie", "a strung-out man withgreaseball hair and scars on his face" and a "crowd of the desperate, the coked-up, thestrung-out" (2001). Such descriptions lift the Who (Arendt, 1958/98) of Sherry Cowx(and those in her community) out of any contextual social/historical framework andsimultaneously conflate her body with the characteristics of urban streets described as"fetid with the animal stench of urine" (2001). Thus, the social structures of poverty andhomelessness are obscured by a litany of "crude" words ingrained with a history ofstereotypic notions of gender, class and homelessness (Dillabough, 2008, forthcoming).Moreover, through such imagery, Sherry Cowx's body becomes a site of contagion,133disease and degraded morality. As such, the classed and gendered -disgust-producingregister to which Skeggs (2005) refers is invoked and "attached to the representation ofCowx  (p. 966: also see Lawler. 2005a. 2005b). And so, Cowx.  and those with whom sheshares the visible spaces of the urban streets are, on one level, conflated with those spacesand on another level we might observe the operation of the language of class division asit is inscribed through the 'disgust-producing' body of a young homeless woman.With unsubtle allusion to archetypal divisions of good and evil (or good/bad)Nuttall-Smith writes that "[t]he sun shone on the litter-strewn street" on the day thereporter learned of Sherry Cowx's "rebirth" into a "clean" life (2001). Her "rebirth" ismarked by a blending of the imagery and language of the private realm with symbolicreferences to a market `meritocracy'; Cowx's personally earned worth through good(though deeply gendered) choices. In the second article, Sherry Cowx is positioned as ayoung woman learning to make such good choices. At one point the reporter observesthat she has "put all of her energy...all of her hope, into her man" (2001). Motivated by"her own disgust" and by her "hope" to be reunited with her son and to find "a man whocould love her" we are told that Sherry Cowx acquires "pride", sheds her street identity,and decides "go[] home". In other words, the ideological assumption is that Cowxdeserves to be 'reborn' (but to a private, not a public life) by virtue of her passivity,75 I would like to note that such attachments of 'disgust' (based in class divisions) to female bodies are notlimited to media representations of female homelessness. Although space constraints prevent a fullcomparison in this context, I will briefly refer to data I collected on media representations of pop musicicon, Britney Spears. Regularly described as "trashy" ("white trash" and "trailer trash" are the nastiestepithets used), Spears is frequently vilified along gender and class lines. Moreover, and in comparison tothe 'disgust-producing' language used to describe Sherry Cowx, there seems to be an obsessivephotographic and textual media documentation of Spears' personal hygiene. As just one example,following a list of Spears' activities during the week of a music awards show, US magazine observes,"[Britney] dipped her unwashed hand in a plate of bathroom mints"(2007). I suggest that as is the casewith the media representation of Sherry Cowx, such references operate as a metaphor for Spears'contamination of public space; her body is presented as a site of 'disease' and, as such, invokes collective`disgust' (Skeggs, 2005).134beauty. contrite maternal feelings and, importantly, through the strength of her "hope fora man who could love [and thus redeem] her". Thus. the inscribed order of masculinedomination (Bourdieu, 2001) is revealed in this construction of freedom from one privateneed (a socially unacceptable drug dependency) to freedom through anothermanifestation of gendered dependency (the love and protection of a man). Moreover.readers are left to believe that Sherry Cowx is only able to leave the streets and attain ameasure of legitimacy" and "public" status because of her personal desire to -clean upher act" (see Dillabough & VanDerMeulen, 2006). 76The presentation of the conditions of 'homelessness' as a series of individualgood and bad choices (removed from any social/historical context) renders the subject ofsuch representations either deserving or undeserving of public interest, approval, pity andconsideration. Through language which presents a sensational lament to, and celebrationof ideal femininity (beauty, maternity, love) readers of the Sherry Cowx story areencouraged to be fascinated by the personalized tragedy (and possible triumph) of anindividual over her circumstances. Moreover, because the social/historical conditions ofhomelessness are removed from the narrative, readers come "face-to-face with the Other"rather than "face-to-face with reality in the presence of others" (Nelson on McCarthy andArendt, 2006, p. 88). Thus, an individualized, traumatic (Arendt, 1963) (and deeplygendered) account of homelessness, attended by a corresponding narrative of 'triumphthrough hope', is presented for public consumption. In the final passages of this section I76 Dillabough and VanDerMeulen (2006) note that "...reproductive codes are entrenched in an ontology ofthe subject or, to put this more literally, in images of helpless impoverished mothers who must essentially`clean up' in order to enter the public realm as legitimate citizens of the state" (p. 15).135ask what might be the effects of such media accounts 77 , particularly as they accumulate inthe public imaginary over time.Arendt once warned that. "...with populations and homelessness everywhere onthe increase, masses of people are continuously rendered superfluous if we continue tothink of our world in utilitarian terms" (1966, p. 459 in Kristeva. 2001, p. 5). Rather thancalling attention to the insult of oblivion" (see Curtis on Arendt, 1999, p. 86) whichmarks such a rendering, the repetition of decontextualized personal trauma in publicspaces has the potential to numb or mute our embodied sense that young women likeSherry Cowx are "people like us" (Bourdieu, 1998). 78 'People', in other words, whoshare a common world but neither an in-common positioning within, nor perspective on,that world (Arendt, 1958/1998). Therefore, media which offers personal stories oftragedy and trauma whilst failing to stimulate a critical engagement with the social andpolitical structures of the state feeds the conditions for a social or collective ethic ofthoughtlessness (Arendt, 1958/1998). In other words, the "human particularity" (Curtis,1999) of Sherry Cowx, a young woman who is homeless, is lost amid traumatic imagesof 'fetid', 'dangerous' streets and 'desperate', `strung-out', `coked-up' `junkies' with`rotted teeth' and 'festering sores' (Nuttall-Smith, 2000, 2001). In addition to the starkugliness of the words themselves, the language used to describe Sherry Cowx and herenvironment is ingrained with the 'relations of domination' which mark the dominanthierarchical structures of our world. Bourdieu (1998) argues that mass media has become"7 Though I have drawn here from only two media samples, research suggests that news media is markedby a consistent lack of focus on the social and economic structures of impoverished circumstances (seeBullock, Wyche and Williams, 2001 on the "context and political function" of "stereotypic media imagesof the poor" in the United States).78 Bourdieu attributes this "extra-ordinary", "exceptional" and reflexive comment to a Paris metro driverwho, following a bombing connected to the Parisian-Algerian community, "...warned against thetemptation to take revenge on the Algerian community. They are, he said simply, people like us" (p. 22).136complicit in reproducing these structures through sensational reporting whichessentializes and dichotomizes "problems of society" (p. 22) and fails to contextualizepublic issues and debates. Furthermore, he suggests that "ordinary citizens" "passively"participate in the exclusion of Othered citizens from material and symbolic spaces oflegitimacy, particularly through the consumption of mass media (pp. 6-9, 29). Bourdieuexplains,historical realities are always enigmatic and, while appearing to be self-evident,are difficult to is infinitely easier to take up a position for or againstan idea, a value, a person, an institution or a situation, than to analyse what it trulyis, in all its complexity. People are all the quicker to take sides on whatjournalists call a 'problem of society' ...the more incapable they are of analyzingand understanding its meaning..." (pp. 22-23).And so, as "`absent-minded' examiners" in a media saturated world we oftenreceive media in a "state of distraction" (Schwartz, 2001, p. 1735). Thus, withoutreference to what Bullock et al (2001) call the "social and economic structures...theantecedents and consequences of poverty" (p. 242) we might slide thoughtlessly intorecognizing Sherry Cowx (and similarly positioned young women) only as the sum of herpathologized and sensationalized traumas and hopes. For example, we learn to recognizedependency as a feminine quality and particular forms of constructed dependency aseither deviant (poverty) or ideal (that which leads to beauty or reliance on a heterosexualrelationship) personal traits. We might 'absently' accept the class-based "taste" bias (seeLawler, 2005a, 2005b; Skeggs, 2001 on Bourdieu, 1986) inherent within the derogatorydescriptions of Sherry Cowx's appearance (`bubble-gum press-on nails') (Nuttall-Smith,2001). And finally we understand that a young woman who lives in economicallydisadvantaged circumstances will succeed or fail on her own merit as a worthy or an137unworthy citizen amidst a mass of other individualized citizens who are "free to choose"a good or bad lifestyle. When these ideas about young women and about genderedcircumstances of disadvantage become entrenched and naturalized within the publicimaginary, exclusion along class. gender and economic lines is perpetuated (see Bullen &Kenway. 2004). We create the conditions. in Arendtian terms, in which some people arerendered superfluous to society, or at least to the public and political realms of society(see Curtis, 1999).From an Arendtian perspective, then, media which seeks to move its audience to"compassion" must also do the work of "publicly fram[ing]" stories like that of SherryCowx "in terms...of 'the relationship of men [sic] to their world — (Arendt. 1955, p. 29 inCurtis, 1999, p. 91). Arendt cautions that "compassion", although very important in apersonal sense, "is politically pernicious if it becomes the foundation of politics - andtakes the form of pity" (ibid.). In other words, the pity invoked for Sherry Cowx'straumas (or joy for her triumphs) is framed in isolation, outside of theappearing/observing reality of plural public space (Arendt, 1958/1998). Accordingly,"suffering from the insult of oblivion is eclipsed" and pity becomes, instead, "anemotion-laden insensitivity to reality" (in Curtis, 1999, pp. 86-87). In other words, the`piling up' (see Gourevitch) of media representations which present decontextualizedtraumatic narratives of gendered social and economic disadvantage can have ananaesthetic effect on the public imaginary. Thus media stories of personalized andpathologized trauma offer their readers no way to engage publicly with the narration. Onits own, 'compassion' (though important) does nothing to alter the dominant structureswhich perpetuate gendered social exclusion. Arendt suggests that these are the conditions138of a radical "world alienation" in which we begin, as Arendt notes, to "encounter onlyourselves" (1954/2006, p. 45). 79 I now move forward to document another mediaexample in which the repetitive baring of private "wounds" (see Seltzer, 1998 in Nelson.2006 on contemporary "wound culture") in public spaces, in order to both "fix" andreproduce gendered dependency along new lines. forms the central purpose of theprogramming."Traumatic" narratives of need: self-help and self-invention through surgeryWomen have long been invited constantly to remake themselves as the (changing) objectof male desire...women have long had to face the recognition that the unitary subject is afraud and that constant and perpetual self-invention is necessary. (Walkerdine et al, 2001,13 . 9)Kerra is a dedicated wife to a Special Forces hero and loving mother of threesons. Bitten by a poisonous spider that came from her husband's duffle bag, she --rather than him -- bears the deep facial scars of war. As her husband fights inextreme conditions overseas, she undergoes extreme surgery and laser andchemical treatments as well...Dr. Ava Shamban performs her most challengingcase yet, as she teams with plastic surgeon Dr. Harvey Zarem and attempts torestore Kerra's former beauty and self esteem. Will she be successful?"After years of floating aimlessly and being thrown life's crumbs, a gaggle of self-proclaimed "ugly ducklings" will swim upstream to be transformed into a bevy ofgraceful beauties. THE SWAN, the new series that turns a fantasy into reality bymirroring the classic fairy tale, premieres Wednesday, April 7. 81The Swan (Fox Television Network) and Extreme Makeover (ABC TelevisionNetwork) are two of the most radical examples of what Nayak and Kehily (2008) call79 The 2001 article on Sherry Cowx did convey a strong sense of the "desperate, lonely separation"(alienation) which exists, Arendt argues, when we lose the "common world which would at once relate andseparate [us]" (1954/2006; 1958/1998). The Vancouver Sun reporter captures this sense of loss (thoughwhether this insight is deliberate or accidental is unclear) with the final comment that in leaving the streetSherry Cowx because less visible in the world. Nuttall-Smith (2001) writes that a friend notes that Cowx"stays homes when her boyfriend goes to work... she doesn't come to the phone" (B1).80 From 2007 Season 4, Episode 1 Extreme Makeover ABC promotional website, "patient bios"( From 2004 Promotional Press Release for FOX Television's reality television programme, The Swan("gender makeovers" or the contemporary trend of "reality television programmesspecializing in the personal 'makeover"' (p. 70). In this section I begin with a briefdescription of the premise of each program. I then move forward to suggest that suchprogramming participates in the reproduction of gendered social exclusion through thesymbolic division of "legitimate", middle-class "ideally" dependent femininity from the"deviant" dependence of subordinate(d) classes (see McRobbie. 2005a; see previousdiscussion in the section above). I argue that in invoking doxic classed and genderedsymbolism as the basis for exclusion 'gender makeovers' create what Bourdieu (1998)calls a "deliberately fostered...sense of unworthiness" (p. 99). This 'sense ofunworthiness' thus becomes fertile ground for discourses of self-help which "enlistsubjects in the pursuit of self-improvement and autonomy" (Rimke, 2000). Finally, Icontend that such programming embodies contemporary Western culture's uninhibitedfascination with stories which render human pain a private (politically disconnected)affair even as such traumatic narratives (Arendt, 1963) are presented for very publicconsumption (see Nelson, 2006).Imbued with the sermonizing and the moral rhetoric of meritocracy, The Swancalled its participants "contestants" and in each episode pitted two women against eachother who were described as "finally" and "bravely" choosing to seek a better lifethrough plastic surgery. In the initial press release announcing the premiere of The Swan,Fox network proclaimed,Two women will be featured in each episode, but only the most beautiful andtransformed one will be selected to compete in the Swan Pageant and further herchances of being crowned 'The Swan'. 8282 exaggerated 'Barbie' doll beauty (large breasts, very long hair, heavily made-up eyesand lips) and total reinvention of the self paved the only avenue to successful"transformation". Thus each episode focussed on the competitor's dedication to hersurgical and psychological alterations, commitment to an imposed fitness routine andwillingness to live in isolation from her friends and family. In fact, each woman's`psychological transformation' was explicitly linked to such isolation. Finally, thejoyfully emoting "winner" of each episode was put forward to compete in the seasonfinale beauty pageant while the distraught "loser" was portrayed as ultimately too weakin her ambition and will to reinvent herself She had, the audience was given tounderstand, "chosen" to fail and therefore did not deserve to move forward in thecompetition.Like The Swan, the theme of bestowing 'happiness and self-esteem throughplastic surgery' to deserving (largely) female participants forms the premise for ExtremeMakeover. 83 On the front cover of the Extreme Makeover application form potentialcandidates are instructed to create a video which answers the question, "Why do youdeserve the Extreme Makeover? How will it change your life?" (2005). Furtherinstructions follow:Go from head to toe explaining what you would like changed. You do not need toknow the exact procedure, just tell us what you don't like about your currentfeatures...Please watch the video after to make sure the lighting is good and wecan accurately see your problem areas...Besides altering your appearance, what isyour biggest dream? (ibid.)The language used in this application form positions potential participants as abnormal bydefault and asserts a thinly veiled implication that the most victimizing accounts will be83 Where The Swan maintained its focus on women exclusively, Extreme Makeover expanded its audienceand offers makeovers to entire families, children included.141deemed the most deserving. Participants are thus encouraged to divulge their 'deepest'heartbreaks and desires in an environment of intense false intimacy (see Nelson, 2006 onArendt).In paradoxical fashion, the selection of deserving candidates is based upon theirown expressions of unworthiness' invoked through symbolic references to naturalizeddoxic notions of gender and class (Bourdieu. 1998. 2001). At the beginning of eachprogram, the young female participants are cast as needy. tragic women trapped (like themid-twentieth century woman in the Lysol advertisement, fig.10) by (physical) feminine"deviance", 'ignorance' and unhappiness. Although the women participating in themakeovers perform these characteristics for the camera, I do not believe this is evidenceof an "unfettered" (McNay, 2000) "choice" made by these women. Rather, I turn toBourdieu's explanation of "self-depreciation" and "self-denigration" as markers ofsymbolic violence wherein we can observe how "the dominated apply categoriesconstructed from the point of view of the dominant to the relations of domination, thusmaking them appear as natural" (2001, p. 35). Moreover, the format of the programs andthe procedure/conditions for becoming a participant reinforce a sense of personal`unworthiness' (Bourdieu, 1998) which is later positioned against the "new" woman'striumphant "chrysalis-style rebirth" (Nayak & Kehily, 2008, p. 71).Bourdieu's observations on the mechanisms of symbolic violence work as acritique of classed symbolic domination as well. As Bullock et al (2001) note, those wholive in disadvantaged circumstances (particularly women) are disproportionatelyrepresented in 'reality' media which has as its premise the exposure of "deviance" and"dysfunction" (pp. 231-232). 'Deviance' and 'dysfunction' thus come to be associated142with a particular (gendered) social location in the public imaginary (see Bullen &Kenway, 2004). So, where the woman in the Lysol advertisement overcomes herfeminine deviance by submitting to the authority of her doctor and the sensibilities of herhusband, participants on The Swan and Extreme Makeover often are additionallypositioned as having to "overcome" the disadvantages of their class positioning andeconomic circumstances through a personal transformation. Thus their bodies becomesites where class divisions are reinscribed through the gendered habitus (see McRobbie'suse of Bourdieu's notion of symbolic violence (2001) in 2005a; also see Skeggs, 2001). 84And so, as in the media story of gendered homelessness (see "Sherry Cowx" in theprevious section) female dependency is naturalized, and classed and gendered "relationsof domination" are reproduced without reference to their social/structural origins(Bourdieu, 2001). Personal transformation becomes the only publicly legitimized avenuefor "happiness'.In `gendered makeovers' expressions of feminine unhappiness are linked to lowself-esteem (see Gonick, 2006) and so the assistance marketed to women in The Swanand Extreme Makeover draws upon self-help discourses of reinvention (also see Nayak &Kehily, 2008). Rimke (2000) notes that,self-help is an activity presumed to be voluntary and individualistic. Based uponnotions such as choice, autonomy and freedom, self-help relies upon the principleof individuality and entails self-modification and improvement. (p. 62)In both programs, plastic surgery is held out as a means to achieving isolated,personal happiness through empowerment, self-esteem and a resultant (and paradoxical)social acceptance. In fact, in its allegorical title The Swan forges a direct link between84 Skeggs (2001) also notes that sometimes "feminine appearance may be a 'solution' to lack of access toother routes of material security, or a means of deflecting class pathology". But she notes that such a'solution' "can only be used by certain women" (p. 298).143the ideal appearance. acceptance within legitimate culture and. most importantly, aresultant. private happiness. And. like the media depiction of Sherry Cowx, success andfailure are defined in individual, personal terms, completely removed from a socialcontext. I would argue, then, that the most damaging aspect of these representations ofmarkedly feminine forms of unhappiness and dysfunction is their disconnection from ahistorically grounded reality. Both The Swan and Extreme Makeover sensationaliseunhappiness and sell particular kinds of gender and class-inscribed suffering asentertainment.With the premise of both programmes resting on themes of 'self-improvement'and the acquisition of 'self-esteem' a large portion of each episode was dedicated topresentations of the pain, suffering and desperation of its participants. Like the deeplygendered and class inscribed media representation of Sherry Cowx, such programscultivate a pseudo-intimacy (abhorred by Arendt for its anaesthetic effect on anawareness of reality within public spaces) between victimized, traumatically portrayedyoung women and the viewing public. The representations of the women who appear onthe show become interchangeable. Their essential appearing and unfolding 'Who'rendered superfluous to the repetition of a (now familiar) storyline of tragic need, willingdependency on the surgery and lifestyle "experts" and final, personal triumph over deeplyclass and gender inscribed "failings". Thus viewers are given to understand that`successful' participants are those who have 'chosen' to be unaffected by their tragiccircumstances even as such circumstances are used as a foil for their final triumph.Viewers are encouraged to either celebrate with individuals striving to achieve an ideal orcommiserate with those whose momentum toward perfection has been impeded by144personal setbacks. To further complicate (or, more to the point, obscure) matters,dominant neo-liberal ideology depicts critiques of this form of entertainment as arestriction or criticism of a woman's free choice to participate in projects of perpetualself-improvement which, we are given to understand, endows her with both self-esteemand a higher social standing (see Griffin, 2004; McRobbie. 2004a).ConclusionIn this chapter I have drawn upon Benjamin's montage method in an attempt tocreate a fragmented, but nevertheless interconnected series of snapshots of mediarepresentations of ideal and deviant femininity. This adaptation of montage is inspired byan Arendtian impulse to think fundamentally differently, and through a historicallyinformed lens, about the nature and significance of what I have described as the 'pilingup' of proliferate and particular images of femininity in the public consciousness. Saul(1992) remarks that, "[m]emory is always the enemy of structure. The latter flourishesupon method and is frustrated by content" (p. 14). Accordingly, the 'content' of thischapter was selected and deliberately arranged to interrupt normalized mythologies ofideal (deviant) femininity. Following Benjamin's lead, this chapter interpreted symbolicrepresentations of femininity found in contemporary media "against the grain" (1968) ofhistory, literature and the dominant social and political rhetoric which so often (and sosuccessfully) veils the processes and "relations of domination" (Bourdieu, 2001). Thecollected fragments of text and image which formed the basis for analysis in this chapterwere arranged to do the work of Arendt's metaphorical 'pearl diver' by salvaging and`dismantling' elements of the past in their present crystallization'. In other words, this145chapter is wholly concerned with both an analysis of the gendered symbolism embeddedin media samples from 'Now' and 'Then - and, moreover, in a recognition of 'traces'(Benjamin) of the 'Then' in our 'Now' Arendt. 1971, pp. 202-213). 85 In practical terms,contemporary media constructions of femininity were read against selections historicalrepresentations of femininity, theory, literature and poetry. The intent of such ajuxtaposition was to reveal what Bourdieu calls the "dehi.sloricization and eternalizationof the structure of the sexual division and the corresponding principles of division"(2001, p. viii). Moreover, through such a juxtaposition the deeply pathologized symbolsof class manifest through the 'sexual division' inherent within media representations ofideal (deviant) femininity were also revealed.The montage relies on an analytical framework which draws upon scholars andwriters whose work opens new spaces in which to think about the broad (and broadlystudied) topic of women, popular culture and media. The chapter, therefore, stands as ahermeneutical navigation within such newly created spaces of thought. Finally, it formsthe backdrop for the next chapter in which young women's experiences in the world areread alongside the symbolism of those socially constructed (and historically relevant)norms, values and ideas which exclude or "alienate" (Arendt, 1958/1998) young womenwho fall outside such normative distinctions. For Arendt, such alienation becomes acatalyst for "...the atrophy of the space of appearance..." (1958/1998, p. 209).85 For a full elucidation of Arendt's concepts of the "Now", the past, the future and the particulars of therelations between these conceptualizations cf. 1971, specifically IV. Where Are We When We Think? "Thegap between past and future: the nunc stans" and 1961.146Chapter FiveYOUNG WOMEN'S "RECONCILIATIONS" OF IDEAL (DEVIANT)FEMININITY IN CIRCUMSTANCES OF ECONOMIC DISADVANTAGEIntroductionIn this chapter I explore the data collected from interview questions which wereposed to a sub-sample of six young women during the larger interviews conducted (andwith reference to the field observations made) during the course of Dr. Jo-AnneDillabough's SSHRC funded ethnographic research, "Social Change and the Study ofEconomically Disadvantaged Youth in Canadian Schools", involving young people wholive, work and attend school in an urban location in BC., Canada. I begin with a briefreview of the elements of feminist social theory which offer a particular frame for thefindings and arguments which will be explored and made here. I then review my centralarguments from chapter four. I then move forward to provide an outline of the structure,central arguments and theoretical framing of this chapter and then move into the contentof the chapter itself.ReviewSocial structures and cognitive structures are recursively and structurally linked, and thecorrespondence that obtains between them provides one of the most solid props of socialdomination (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992, p. 14).In chapter two I explored the work of feminist theorists who draw our attention tothe dominant gendered discourses at play in contemporary young women's lives (girlpower, reinvention) whilst also connecting such discourses to larger prevailing ideologiesof neo-liberal individualism (and individualization) and its construction of the ideal,147consuming and "choosing" (female) citizen. Furthermore. I highlighted how the moresociologically oriented work of Bullen and Kenway (2004), McRobbie (2004. 2005) andSkeggs (2001. 2005) links class positioning (and a contemporary "rearrangement"" ofhistorical class values and structures) to all such "readings of the feminine" (Skeggs.2001, p. 305). Finally. I also argued that dominant media representations of idealizedfemininity regulate and reproduce gendered exclusion along class lines in the followingtwo ways: first, in its representation of ideal femininity (and thus legitimate femininecitizenship) 87 as perpetually capable of reinventing girlhood in sexual ways throughconsumption and (narrowly circumscribed) choices, such media alienates young womenwhose economic" circumstances constrain her ability to engage in such neoliberalprojects of reinvention; and secondly that media reflects the dominant trend to "read"disadvantaged circumstances "as a value of personhood" (Skeggs, 2001, p. 295).In chapter four I used an adaptation of the montage method (see Buck-Morns onBenjamin, 1989) to analyse and expose the classed, gendered and historically relevantsymbolism embedded within contemporary media representations of ideal and deviantfemininity. In so doing, I sought to expose the "durable", "arbitrary", "paradoxical" and"contingent" structures, symbols and mechanisms of masculine domination (Bourdieu,2001, pp. 1-5) which live on within such media representations (despite ideologicaldenials to the contrary) and I attempted to reveal examples of such longevity through a86 McRobbie, 2005a87 See Gonick, 2006; Harris, 2004a; McRobbie, 2004a.H I want to call attention here to Griffin's (2004) argument that such constructions of ideal femininity alsoalienate and thus operate to exclude young women whose race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, diverse abilityand/or personal comfort level constrain their ability or desire to achieve such ideals. And so, while I don'tsuggest that I explore all aspects of, for example, race or disability theory in relation to feminist critiques ofgendered media, I do, where possible and appropriate, make note of such distinctions in relation to eachparticipating young woman's location and positioning as a young woman living in disadvantaged economiccircumstances.148modified montage which combined contemporary media samples, theoretical analysiswith the juxtaposition of a small sample of relevant historical media. I also used anArendtian theoretical perspective to further and broaden my thinking about how and whyand with what result such media proliferates within our common spaces. Finally, I usedsuch Arendtian thinking to argue that the mass dissemination of popular mediarepresentations of ideal (deviant) femininity (viewed as embedded with doxic butcontemporarily 'rearranged' and ideologically laden gendered and classed symbolism)"itself combines to create the conditions in which the following ideas about femininitymight be revealed and exposed: first, that femininity is rendered superfluous (see Curtison Arendt, 1999); second, that young women's exclusion along classed and genderedlines is naturalized and normalized to the point of public obliviousness"; and, third thatpublic consciousness of such a rendering and naturalization is often occluded bygendered narratives of empowerment which, through their affiliation with neo-liberalnotions of individualism and choice operate to personalize the symbolic markings of suchexclusion (see holes of oblivion, in 1971 and in Curtis, 1999).In this chapter I move forward to suggest that the very preliminary field research 91I conducted drawing upon Jo-Anne Dillabough's research on youth and social exclusionmight reveal the presence of the following two emergent but significant themes in thelives of economically disadvantaged young women in relation to their reconciliation of89 See Bourdieu, 1998, 2001 and the discussion of the paradox of doxa (2001) in chapter one of this thesis.90 See "repetition of truths" (Arendt, 1958/98, p. 5) and the "doxic experience of the social world"(Bourdieu, 2001, p. 9).91 Because this research takes its data from a very small sub-sample (N=6) of young women who wereasked more specific questions about ideal and deviant femininity during and the larger study's (Dillabough,forthcoming) interview protocol (see chapter three for full explanation of methods) 1 suggest that thischapter displays themes which emerged from the data as preliminary findings. In other words, while thedata findings are insightful they are also suggestive in nature and so point to areas of research which couldbe further explored. I take up this line of thought at the end of this chapter and more thoroughly in the finalchapter of this thesis.149media representations of ideal (deviant) femininity: (1) young women's ambivalence,identification and creation of meaning in pathologized neighbourhoods; and, (2) youngwomen's reconciliations of mass media, consumption, and notions of the "impossiblegirl" (Griffin, 2004) in circumstances of socio-economic disadvantage.Within both thematic sections I suggest we might observe the resilient presence ofstructurally inscribed and symbolically embodied forms of symbolic/masculinedomination and its effect, symbolic violence (Bourdieu, 2001, described in the theoreticalframework in chapter one). Moreover, I suggest that we can identify fragmented butsignificant "flashes" (Goodman, 2003, p. 159)92 of gendered empowerment andindividualization narratives (e.g., girl power, reinvention) as they manifest in youngwomen's reconciliations of popular notions of ideal (deviant) femininity in relation totheir own economically disadvantaged circumstances and as such circumstances intersectwith their specific social and cultural location(s). Furthermore, I suggest that suchdominant social narratives also provide the young women involved in this research withwhat Willis (2003) identifies as "an instant social and cultural imaginary for resistance"to the various social judgments, injustices and constraints they experience in relation toeconomic disadvantage and to their location within a publicly pathologized urban space.Finally, I link the presences of such 'flashes' or dominant narratives to a theoreticalexploration of the processes of exclusion using Bourdieusian theories of the specificallygendered and classed operations of symbolic/masculine domination and symbolicviolence (2001) which I connect to larger Arendtian concerns with isolation andreconciliation (see "reconciliations with reality", 1954/2006, 1958/1998), the92 See the discussion of "'flashes' of recognition, memory and insight" in chapter one of this thesis (chapterfour outline).150significance of appearing in [and the dangers of closing off] public, agonistic space (see1954/2006. 1958/1998)).More specifically and guided by Arendtian political concerns I engage in asociological critique of how such spaces are closed to these young women because of therelationship between their gender and social/economic location and the popular massmedia which claims to represent and empower them. I would argue that social, culturaland political theory opens space to think about the ideological and structural forces atplay in young women's daily lives. And so I first note that in our media saturatedmoment in history we (largely unconsciously) construe so many of our "judgments"93 as`true' depictions of 'the everyday' when in fact (through the workings of the habitus)they are infused with the values of dominant society which feed recursively through thepopular media (see Bourdieu, 1998, 2001). Therefore, I suggest that a discussion whichexplores young women's descriptions of where their daily experiences occur in relationto how such young women draw upon dominant symbolic narratives embedded withinmass media as they seek to reconcile such experiences also stands as a critique of thosemedia representations which most often pathologize, sensationalize and personalizedisadvantaged circumstances. 94 Finally, although my central aim is to both highlight thesocial processes which underpin popular perceptions of gender and gendered economicdisadvantage as the embodiment of personal choices and the possible politicalconsequences of such processes and conflations, I ground this aim in an exploration of93 I refer here to particular characteristic of judgment as dominantly equated and conflated with dogmatic`truths - which Arendt calls to our attention. Arendt argues that in order to combat exclusion in all of itsforms we must separate our concept of judgment from any notion of truth and at the same time recognizethat judgment is best revealed in an agonistic, public space so that the blinders which render suchjudgments as 'natural' or 'true' might better be removed (see 1971).94 See Bullen and Kenway (2004), McRobbie (2005) and Skeggs (2001, 2005) who contend that sucheconomically circumstances are always deeply gendered as well as classed and racialised.151six young women' s real and contingent experiences and reconciliations of gender normsand the social, cultural and material conditions of economic disadvantage.Willis (1990) suggests that those seeking to understand youth cultures "try tounderstand the dynamic, precarious, virtual uses of symbols in common culture, notunderstanding the everyday through popular representation but understanding popularrepresentation through and in the everyday" (p. 6). Moreover, he argues that for youngpeople the "appropriation" of popular representation reflects their need to matterculturally" and to be "visible" within the larger social realm (2003, p. 404). FollowingHarris (2004a), I would argue, in relation to young women, that 'visible' legitimacywithin contemporary society is tied to gendered forms of consumption and to adherenceto dominant narratives of gendered empowerment. And so, I read the experiences,expressions and responses within these narratives as young women's "active process[es]of 'meaning-making' [of] 'making sense' of their world and their place in the world inrelation to both dominant media constructions of ideal (deviant) femininity and to "their[own] economic positions and relationships" (Willis, 2004, p. 171).Lives in context: young women's ambivalence, identification and creation ofmeaning in pathologized neighbourhoods[The neighbourhood] is what some people would describe as the sinful place. You gotthe prostitutes, the drugs, you got stealing, beating, whatever you can think of, it's there.I've been on Main and Hastings at one in the morning coming back from a rock concert,not always the best feeling, you're trying to keep yourself to yourself, most importantthing you have to worry about when you're walking down the street. If there is somedrug dealings going on, just ignore it, just walk right by. If you get your nose stuck in it,they will be pissed. [...][...] Do you want to live somewhere else?No, maybe deeper into [the neighbourhood], but other than that I love it there [...](Anne, age 16)152The young women who participated in this study live, work and attend school in aneighbourhood which abuts and blends into Vancouver's downtown eastside - one of themost pathologized urban spaces in Canada. Arendt argues that constructions ofsubjectivity must be understood as "unfolding" (Dillabough, 2006, course notes) andsituated within complex and inherently social relations (1958/98). Moreover, Walkerdineet al (2001) remark that, "[i]t is the situated and specifically local character of howpeople live and transform their lives that is important" (p. 15). 95 With these words inmind, I begin this exploration of the narratives of the young women involved in thisresearch.I suggest that in the text cited at the beginning of this section we can see howdominant understandings of (gendered) disadvantaged circumstances can take shape asimaginary 'truths' embedded within the habitus of the young women who share suchmedia pathologized urban spaces 96 with those who have been pushed to the margins ofsociety. Cara's account of her daily experiences in her neighbourhood was similar toAnne's,Int.: Do you like your neighbourhood?Cara: No! [...] It's kind of dangerous, well scary 'cause I live near [street name]in the project area.• .]Yeah, like prostitutes are around the corner and sometimes I'm embarrassed totell people where I live too.[• • .]But it's ok because quite a few of my friends live around there too.1. • .]It's just dangerous to walk at night but during daytime it's alright. (age 15)95 Emphasis added.96 In the montage chapter I thoroughly discuss one such media representation of the downtown east sideand of a young woman who lives there. See pp.133-140.153In both narratives, prostitution is linked to personal morality without reference to thosesocial forces which both normalize and necessitate the literal commodification of thefemale body. Another young woman sought to distance her own connection to a Chineseheritage from the "bad citizenship" 97 she has observed in her neighbourhood by drawingupon dominant representations of gendered deviance as they intersect with dominantracialised narratives of deviance:Val: [...] these single mothers they lied and they get extra money, those moneycome from us, not a good citizen.IM.: Welfare fraud.Val: yes [...] some of them keep on having babies to get more money, they get$200 for a baby until they are 15 or 16, especially people from China, they have abad reputation. (age 15)Here we see the intersection between racialised narratives of deviance and dominant"processes of class differentiation now thoroughly projected onto and inseparable fromthe female body" as a "specifically feminine modalit[y] of symbolic violence"(McRobbie, 2005a, pp. 101-102). Moreover, and in relation to all of the examples ofgendered distancing from the publicly patlaologized Other, Skeggs explains that whensexualization of the female body intersects with disadvantaged economic and socialcircumstances, a "moral limit" is enacted and old class stereotypes are (re)confirmed. 98And so historical class hierarchies are legitimated through the back door as young womenstruggle to assert an individualized identity which might separate them from the publiclyde-legitimized and gendered Others with whom they share their urban space.97 The phrase "bad" or "good citizen" is used in this selection of data during a discussion of an activityconducted by Dr. Dillabough as part of the larger ethnographic study which asked the young peopleinvolved in the research to write about and draw a representation of "good citizenship".98 For example, while representations of privileged female bodies draped in the adopted symbolism ofprostitution (skimpy clothing) can be heralded as exemplars of 'empowered' femininity, the samesymbolism marks a female prostitute's body as deviant and confirms her as 'immoral' in the publicimaginary through a conflation of her social/economic positioning with her worth as person.154It would seem then that the language the young women use to describe theirneighbourhood is drawn from symbolic and discursive media representations whichpathologize this urban space and the people who are most marginalized within it. In fact.when asked to describe their neighbourhood all of the young women who participated inthis study made use of media disseminated language of "deviance" (e.g., "ghetto","hobo", "dirty", "scary". "disgusting", "sinful"). Moreover, such terms also reflect youngwomen's' embodiment of social and economic forces as personal "bad choices" (seeSkeggs, 2005) and bad subjects as can be best observed in Cara's personalization of hersocial location: "I'm embarrassed to tell people where I live" (age 15). I would argue,then, that disadvantaged young women in particular might seek to distance themselvesfrom those whose bodies and essential personhood are most often represented as deviantand conflated with the pathologized spaces in which they live. As Skeggs (2001, 2005)(extending Bourdieu's theory of cultural capital and "taste" 99) notes, the language ofgendered deviance draws upon class-inscribed expressions of "disgust" and allowsindividuals who live in difficult economic circumstances to gain cultural capital bydescribing such deviance as separate from themselves. Following this line of argument, Isuggest that the young women's use of such language to distance themselves from thevisible signs of poverty and necessity in their neighbourhood signifies their desire toreject an associated judgment of their own bodies and lives as deviant.At the same time I also want to posit that we might read such a distancing asyoung women's unconscious embodiment and personalization of the "historicalassociation [of pathology] with the term class" or as a class denial which Skeggs (2005)99 See Bourdieu, 1986. Citing Bourdieu (1986), Skeggs notes that "historical class positioning is read asindividualized volition, a matter of taste" (2001, p. 303).155argues is -re-circulated" within media even when such media claims to be addressing the-problem . ' of pathologization (pp. 966-967; also related discussions of media complicityin Bourdieu, 1998). I call attention here to the work of Bullen and Kenway (2004) inorder to examine the role of media representation of gendered disadvantage in shapingthe publicly imagined deviance which these young women are seeking to reject. Theauthors note that media depictions of marginalized women as a "threat to social.economic and moral order", reflect and recursively garner popular support for publicpolicies which subject disadvantaged women to either vilification or pity (pp. 142-143).The economically disadvantaged are thus constructed on one hand as entirely responsiblefor their circumstances and on the other as helplessly dependent victims of the dominantorder. In either case, the authors note, "the 'underclass' is constructed as a 'moralcategory'" (p. 144 citing White, 1996, p. 132). Blame is attached to the individual who isjudged to have deviated from the moral 'norm' whilst the dominant structures of oursocial world are bestowed with a naturalized veneer of moral superiority. Popular mediathus circulates the dominant perspective that the prostitution, homelessness, theft anddrug use to which the young women refer are inherently "cultural and moral rather thaneconomic" in nature (p. 143 citing Murray, 1999). And so we can observe how thesymbolic violence of media disseminated pathologization and personalization of thesocial structures of economic disadvantage is reproduced at the cultural level as theseyoung women attempt to classify themselves as not deviant and thus different andseparate from the "sinful", "embarrassing" prostitutes who are marked as morallydeviant. The dominant public representation of prostitution is thus reaffirmed as a156personal, sinful "bad choice" made by a classed and racialised body (see Skeggs use ofBourdieu's theories of taste and embodiment. 2005).Such notions of personal deviancy and pathology, which, through mediaproliferation have come to stand as 'truths' about the people whose lives are played outon the streets of beleaguered neighbourhoods permeate public consciousness as a whole.Such imagined truths, then, also exist outside of young women's embodied consciousnessand manifest as measurable consequences in the lives of those young people who live inpathologized neighbourhoods. Note one young woman's response to a question about thereputation of her school:Anne: In elementary school we had a problem with substitutes or student teachers`cause they won't want to come to an eastside elementary school, they are younghooligans, they are starting their life of drug addicts, I find it very insultingbecause it was not like that [...]. (age 16)We see here an example of an account of the particular conditions of exclusionthrough which students in school were denied access to important educational resourceswhich, we can assume, would not have been denied to those students who attend schoolsin neighbourhoods which enjoy a better reputation in the public imaginary. Movingforward, I suggest that this passage also reveals this young woman's frustration, oftenexpressed by others during the interviews, of being associated with the perceived"dangers" (sensationalized and connected within popular media to the visibility of druguse and crime) in her neighbourhood.But though in this passage Anne rejects the public representation of her peers asdangerous and deviant, she and the other young women identify and account for howthey contend with both media depictions of their neighbourhood's sensational157"dangerousness and the very real and gendered risks encountered whilst traveling thestreets of their neighbourhood alone or at night ("it's kind of dangerous, well, scary"Cara. 15). I suggest that their accounts reflect a certain ambivalence which, in thecontemporary moment is part of the psychic cost of navigating urban space'(Dillabough, 2008, in conversation). Furthermore, I suggest the young women'sexpressed ambivalence also relates to their entirely human need to derive meaning fromeveryday experiences which intersect (usually below the level of consciousness) withthose social, political, economic and ideological forces over which they have littlecontrol.In relation to such expressions of ambivalence I now move on to explore severalaccounts of actual and perceived gendered violence which emerged during the interviews.I discuss the young women's comments about how they reconcile both the real andpublicly 'naturalized' and sensationalized risks associated with those they (might)encounter in the spaces they inhabit. Borrowing from Arendt (1954/2006) I argue thatmedia which sexualizes and fetishizes young femininity ultimately alienates us from theessential humanity of all young women i°° and thus contributes to creating the conditionsin which such imagined gendered risk becomes (more) real. Following this thematicsection on context and urban space I move forward to document a sample of suchrepresentations together with young women's specific responses to the sampled mediaand their more general reconciliations of media(ted) representations of ideal femininitywith their own lives.100 Arendt likely would have said "all humans" instead of 'all young women' as her perspective was muchbroader than mine is here. Having said that, I would argue that Arendt's central concern with how therendering of humanity superfluous occurs is particularly relevant to this discussion of gendered violence(see 1958/1998, 1963, 1971; also see Kristeva, 2001; Curtis, 1999).158Acquired invisibility: young women navigate and reconcile public spaces marked by(sexual) violenceIn this section I explore how the young women involved in this study account forand reconcile both their material experiences of sexualized violence and their heightenedsense of threat of sexualized violence which, as I have previously documented (seeanalysis of "Married with Accessories in chapter four), is sensationalized within popularculture and the public imaginary and so becomes an extraordinarily ordinary"(Bourdieu, 2001, p. 2) part of our social world. Furthermore, I have suggested that wemight read the 'extraordinarily ordinary' commodification of the female body has havingled to its being rendered banal (see Arendt, 1963, 1958/1998). Therefore, in this section Iargue that we might observe the results of such a rendering in young women's strategiesfor reconciling their 'fears' and experiences of such violence. Furthermore. I suggest thatyoung women's accounts of remaining invisible are a key element of their strategicnavigation of their spaces and that such strategies might be read as a form of symbolicviolence (Bourdieu, 2001) which reveals the banality of objectified femininity and theresulting superfluity of feminine bodies in public spaces (Arendt, 1963; Curtis on Arendt,1999). I begin by recounting the young women's stories which I have separated into twosub-sections: imagined dangers and reconciling acts of gendered violence. Although Ihave separated the young women's accounts of a sense of violence and experiences ofviolence into these sub-headings I have done so for ease of analysis.159Reconciling (imagined) dangers on the streetsNote Kate's instinctual expression of the deeply gendered -rules" (Bourdieu andWacquant. 1992) which govern the streets of her neighbourhood.Kate: This neighbourhood is not that good. Ifs kind of ghetto, but not really.There is lots of scary people at night. You can't wear a skirt in the summer andcome home alone. You always have to be with a friend or else guys will drivearound in a truck and pick you up. People will deal drugs. If you walk by theyoffer you some.Int.: Is that frightening?Kate: I'm used to it. (age 16)Cara expressed much the same sort of mental shrug of acceptance when asked toelaborate on her characterization of her neighbourhood as "dangerous", - scary" and"embarrassing": its ok because quite a few of my friends live around there too [...] it'sjust dangerous to walk at night but during daytime it's alright" (age 15). But she alsoobserved the 'rule' that precludes being female on the street at night and alluded toKate's more explicitly conveyed understanding that belonging to a friendship groupoffers protection.With a similar display of acceptance, Anne qualified her initial description withher discomfort with walking home at night ("not always the best feeling") with thereflection that she is able to "be relaxed" because she is both accustomed to the "danger"and has acquired the symbolic capital (Bourdieu, 2001) of "street smarts" and thus,"know[s] what's going on" (age 16). She described her knowledge of the 'rules' of thestreet as follows: "you're trying to keep yourself to yourself, most important thing youhave to worry about when you're walking down the street"(ibid.).Implicit within each of these accounts is that such risk-generated 'rules' are bothpart of the naturalized order of the "dangerous streets" and entirely ordinary in their160necessary existence ("Is that frightening?": "I'm used to it"; "it's ok, it's alright"; "[I]know what's going on"). I suggest that the most important rule seems to be, for theseyoung women at least, to acquire what I think of as a gendered invisibility achieved byavoiding the streets altogether at night, knowing to never wear a skirt when alone on thestreets, traveling in a group or 'keeping yourself to yourself . I suggest that all of thesestrategies are underpinned by the imagined "truth" that the female body (particularly theclass inscribed female body, see Skeggs, (2001) is a superfluous (see Curtis on Arendt,1999) commodity and, as I have argued throughout, I would connect such superfluity toits publicly degraded, traded and proliferated image in mass popular media. And finally,I would argue that from a sociological perspective we can observe (in these youngwomen's acquisitions of invisibility) the basis for symbolic violence (Bourdieu, 2001)whereby the publicly imagined superfluity of classed and gendered bodies is inscribed onthe habitus of such young women or, to use Bourdieu's words, inscribed on their,"...dispositions attuned to the structure of domination of which they are the product"(2001, p. 45).Reconciling (normal) acts of gendered violenceDescribing an otherwise peaceful protest she attended one young woman recalledan incident where another young woman was sexually assaulted in front of a largegathering of people on the steps of a public building:Anne: [...] It never becomes violent. I mean like other than one guy whograbbed some other girl's tits. Her guy friends are going to get pissed off,obviously.IM.: Her guy friends got...?Anne: Yeah. Yeah. Her guy friends would get mad and be like what did you justdo and you know, there'd be a fight. But that would happen at any place, too,right? [...] (age 16)161Anne's question here was rhetorical and so I suggest that it reveals the extent to which, inher experience, gendered, sexualized violence has become normalized within dominantculture.I suggest that Anne's unconscious embodiment of such normalization (as a formof symbolic violence) is at play in her depiction of a passive female 'protected' from onemale by another group of 'guy f'riends' as implicitly 'normal'. Thus, the embedded,structural and habitual nature of symbolic/masculine domination (Bourdieu, 2001)accounts for such instinctual subordination of femininity by a young woman who, inother sections of the interviews seems to embody elements of popular narratives ofgender equality and female empowerment. But, as many feminist theorists point out.such popular narratives problematically present gendered empowerment as a return to`girliness' or compulsory (hetero) hyper-sexuality (see McRobbie, 2004, 2005b) and thusreinforce the structures and dominance of masculine domination (Bourdieu, 2001). Andso, I suggest that in such a seeming paradox we find evidence of the complicity ofdominant, media proliferated narratives of female empowerment in nourishing youngwomen's unconscious sense of being "at home in [a] world" in which males (and themasculine social order) might have a proprietary relationship with the (commodified)female body (Bourdieu, 2000). Borrowing from Arendt, I would suggest that thenormalization of such acts further reflects the superfluity of the increasinglycommodified female form and thus reinforces such superfluity within the popularimaginary. Keeping this perspective in mind I now describe another young woman'sreconciliation of an experience of symbolic violence (Bourdieu, 2001) which played outin a public, seemingly safe space and in the presence of many other people.162In the cultural "field" of the classroom (see Bourdieu & Wacquant„ 1992) it wasobserved that male 'teasing' was often distinctly sexual in nature. Though the youngwomen in the classroom never engaged in these periodic bouts of sexualized/genderedtaunting, on one occasion it was observed that Sarah was the subject of explicit, sexuallyaggressive remarks directed at her by an outspoken male leader in the classroom. 101Using stark sexual language he asked Sarah several times to confirm another (absent)young man's boast that she had "let him [do something sexual]" to her. Sarah lookedmortified and grew flushed but gave no verbal response. She kept her eyes focused onthe ground, her head down and left the classroom with her female peer group.When asked (in very general terms) about the interviewer's and field noteobservations of the sexual nature of classroom pestering Sarah responded with adismissal of such derogatory, sexualized comments as normalized bids for "attention":Int.: There's a lot of sexual name calling in the classroom [...] and references togirls with their boyfriends. What do you think about that stuff? That can be aform of exclusion for some kids too.Sarah: Most people do that for attention, they say things like that so that they canhave attention to themselves, that's what I think.-•1I have noticed a lot in this school, but not in other schools, usually the guys acttough but not think tough. [...] (age 15)Although it is unclear what Sarah perceived as the difference between 'acting tough' and`thinking tough' (as she did not elaborate in this section of the narrative) in an earlierconversation she remarked,101 My intention in relaying this experience is in no way to judge the behaviour of the young man involved.And, although an analysis of young male embodiment of symbolic/masculine domination falls outside thescope of this investigation I note Arnot's (who cites Nayak and Kehily (2001)) observation that suchaggressive and sexually charged 'teasing' "reinforces hypennasculine egos" and suggest further that it is anunconscious and bodily-recognized part of the normalized dominance of "heterosexual masculinity" (2004,p. 31). Moreover, I cite Bourdieu's explanation that the perpetuation of such essentially ritualisticbehaviour is also part of our inheritance of masculine domination in which the condition of being a manmust be "felt before others" and "validated by other men" (2001, p.52).163Sarah: [...] people in the group that I was in we usually name call each other asfun, we know we are all joking around because we are all friends, it doesn'tbother us. 102 (age 15)I believe that if we analyse Sarah's experience together with the previousaccounts of young women's reconciliation of the distinctly sexual forms of immanent andactual violence I would argue that Sarah's public dismissal of this incident is part of amore generalized ambivalence resulting from a need to reconcile her location within adeeply pathologized urban space and to living in a world where media images of(sometimes) violently sexualized femininity pass largely unremarked upon within publicspaces (see Arendt on thoughtlessness, 1958/98). Moreover, I call attention to the fieldnote observations of this young woman's body language as she left the classroom andsuggest that the effects of symbolic violence might be "measured" in her attention to thepreviously discussed 'rules' of gendered invisibility. Moreover, in the field notes takenduring the course of the larger study there are frequent references to sexually chargedinnuendos and jokes about sex and sexuality that circulated amongst the young men inthe classroom. Importantly, for this discussion, I call attention to the fact that youngwomen did not participate in these exchanges.Finally, I note that of the six young women interviewed, Sarah, who had onlyrecently moved to this neighbourhood from a smaller Canadian city following thebreakup of her parents, most frequently accessed the language and embodied symbolism102 Taken together, these statements might indicate that the sexual aggression observed in the classroom ispart of the instinctually understood rules of relation within Sarah's group of friends (research notundertaken here). Moreover, Willis (1971) and Cohen (1999) both identify such hyper-masculine 'teasing'as a particular form of class-based, youth sub-cultural subversion of the constraints of the dominant socialorder. It might also be observed that within the context of her belonging to the self-identified 'popular'peer group, Sarah interprets such actions as 'teasing' perpetrated by those peers who 'want attention'(particularly her attention) from a more popular peer. And so I acknowledge that perhaps all of theseperspectives do constitute partial explanations but I do not take them up in this thesis.164of social narratives of gendered empowerment 1°3 which call upon the "sophisticated",contemporary young woman to dismiss examples gendered objectification andsubjugation as "ironic", harmless and amusing (see McRobbie. 2004a). I further note thatshe identified herself has having had a more middle-class experience of the world beforemoving to her new neighbourhood. In other words, it might be argued that Sarah's classpositioning intercedes in her dismissal of this experience because such positioning ismore closely allied with popular notions of an empowered, ideal girl (see Gonick, 2006;Griffin, 2004; McRobbie, 2004a). And so, on one hand it might be argued that Sarah isable to publicly subvert the relevance of such aggressive sexual attention from her malepeers via the symbolic embodiment of empowered female independence. On the otherhand we might also observe the powerful silencing effect such narratives have.Indeed, observing that gendered empowerment narratives, "call upon [the newfemale subject] to be silent, to withhold critique in order to count as a modern,sophisticated girl" (McRobbie, 2004a, p. 9). Silence in the face of objectification hasbecome a signifier of the ideal girl and such silencing is, I would argue, reinforced by thebarrage of media representations of sexualized, fetishized and pathologized femininitywhich render objectification banal. Moreover, such representations are often underpinnedby the discourses and signifiers of gendered empowerment which further complicate thenotion of a 'normal' or 'ideal' response to actual experiences of sexualization. McRobbie(2004a) notes,103 I refer the reader to the discussions of "girl power", "feminine individualization" and the "reinventingself' found in chapter two (see Gonick, 2006; Griffin, 2004; Harris, 2004a, 2004b; McRobbie, 2004a)165[t]he media have become the critical site for defining emergent sexual codes ofconduct. They pass judgment and establish the rules of play. Across these manychannels of communication feminism is routinely disparaged. (p. 7) 104The strategic 'disparagement' of feminism to which McRobbie (both here and in moredetail in her other works, see 2005a, 2005b) refers has been identified by other feministtheorists as a mechanism for closing off young women's access to political action andactivism and to an awareness or knowledge. even, of the ideologies and discourses of(feminist) public critique (see Gonick, 2006; Griffin, 2004; Jowett, 2004; Levy, 2005;Taft, 2004 among many others).It is at this juncture that I wish to conclude this section with a return to Arendtiantheories of human engagement within public space. If we read such feminized silenceand what I have observed here as these young women's effort at acquiring a kind ofgendered invisibility in public space from an Arendtian perspective I would argue that thesocial conditions which necessitate such acquired invisibility also act to preventeconomically disadvantaged young women from appearing as legitimate, political beingsin common public spaces (see 1958/1998). In other words, I would argue that we canobserve the processes of deeply gendered forms of social exclusion at work in theseyoung women's navigation of their pathologized and thus publicly feared and shunnedneighbourhood and in their (masculine domination inscribed) normalizing of experiencesof sexualized forms of violence (see Bourdieu, 2001). Through such an analysis I wouldfollow McRobbie (2005a) in implicating mass media (and its representation of ideal andI " Such a 'disparaging' of feminism is seen in its most obvious form in the 'new' media trend whichcommits violence on the female body as a form of commercialized entertainment (see discussion of suchmedia in chapter four) and in a description from one young woman in Appendix B. Moreover, as Levy(2005) notes, the symbolism of the pornography industry is not only part of normal programming andrepresentation in mainstream media, it is also frequently publicly defended (sometimes by feministscholars) as 'empowering' to contemporary young women.166deviant femininity) in the "feminization and "widening" of existing social divisions (inAdkins. 2005. p. 4) and reformulating such social exclusion using the symbolism andrhetoric of female empowerment.To summarize this section, I have argued that the young women's narrativessimultaneously communicate the everyday, 'real' experiences of living in adisadvantaged, marginalized neighbourhood and their unconscious embodiment of thenormalized, symbolic/masculine domination inscribed within and through the moraljudgments of dominant society (see Bourdieu, 2001). Thus they often describe theirexperiences using language which connotes deviance and pathology ("ghetto", "bum"."dirty") or reflects an embodied symbolic violence through "bodily emotions" (p. 38) likeself-consciousness and embarrassment when describing their neighbourhood spaces andthe people with whom they share such spaces. Finally, I noted the symbolic violencerevealed in each young woman's varied expression of a sense of normalized "worry",fear and instinctual caution which attends the possibility of deeply gendered threats tothem, as young women who live in such a pathologized public space.But, though the streets which form the boundary within which these youngwomen live, work and attend school are described variously as 'embarrassing',`dangerous' and 'scary' the young women do not describe uncomplicated experiences ofbeing fearful. I have suggested that such 'complicated' or ambivalent feelings towardboth real and imagined risks might be due to a need to create meaning in constrained andpathologized spaces and to their embodiment of the public rendering of such genderedrisks banal (see Arendt) by virtue of their representative saturation of the publicconsciousness via the mechanism of mass media. In the following section I move on to167explore three thematic strands which emerged in relation to young women's responses toexamples of such media shown and questions about ideal (deviant) femininity askedduring the interviews.Reinventing Freedom in (as) Constraint: mass media, consumption, economicdisadvantage and the "impossible girl" (Griffin, 2004)There is a dangerous illusion that because feminine consumer culture now endorses therhetoric of "girl power", endlessly celebrating high-profile women, and because manywomen's magazines take up equal-opportunities issues, feminine popular culture is nolonger harmful to women. Because women are understood to be able to make their ownchoices about what they buy or how they want to look, it is thought that the powers ofpersuasion or manipulation have been eroded. The censorious feminist who still speaksabout gender inequalities and about the damage caused by the bodily obsessions of themagazine sector will find few supporters among young women today. And the stark factsof the underrepresentation of women, and in particular black and Asian women, in keypolitical positions gets obliterated in the buzz... (McRobbie, 2005b, final para.)Willis (2003) argues that researchers who wish to work with young people mustfirst, "grant the freedoms of consumption that pedagogists begrudge, political economistsderide, and antihurnanists deny, but we must locate them at material and socialinterconnections and historical conjunctures that constrain and channel these freedoms inall kinds of ways" (p. 404). Popular contemporary media representations of femininityposition the ideal young woman as an appearance conscious i05 , self-(re)inventingconsumer in modern marketplaces of commodified, individualized and feminized"choice" (see Gonick, 2006; Griffin, 2004; Harris, 2004a, 2004b; McRobbie, 2004a).Moreover, gendered empowerment narratives (symbolically embedded within such1°5 This is a complex phrase which requires explanation. On one hand, and as many feminist/socialtheorists note, the ideal appearance is almost always represented as White, slim, overtly (hetero) sexual andin accordance with middle-class notions of aesthetic 'good taste' (see Bourdieu,1986; Griffin, 2004;McRobbie, 2005; Skeggs, 2001; Weekes, 2004). Additionally, the "girl (em)powered" sexualization soldas liberation from and subversion of such middle-class values is itself inscribed with a long history of class,race and gender domination (see Bourdieu, 2001; McRobbie, 2004, 2005a; Skeggs, 2005).168representations) encourage young women to 'liberate" themselves by paradoxicallyconforming to an individualized and conscious interpretation (assimilation or rejection)of such characteristics of 'ideal' femininity. Thus, as Willis (2003) observes:Once penetrating the realm of culture and consciousness, a market economy ofcommodity relations...brings in an avalanche of commodity goods for consumersconstituted as citizens (so long as they have money) who are free to choose andconsume as they wish — now with their spirits as well as their bodies. (p. 402)In this section I seek to explore how economic disadvantage intersects with dominantideologies of femininity and the (legitimate) consuming female subject in relation to boththe young women's responses to contemporary gendered media images (see figs. 9 and10) and the discussions which arose from questions about how they might define ideal(deviant) femininity.Theoretically speaking, I suggest the following: (1) popular discourses andsymbolic representations of liberated, individualized and/or empowerment femininity aremarked by social "relations of domination" (gender, class, race etc.) which, through thehabitus become "a somatized social relationship, a social law converted into an embodiedlaw" (Bourdieu, 2001, p. 39) and so; (2) young women's embodied relationship with suchdiscourses and representations cannot "be suspended by a simple effort of will, foundedon a liberatory awakening of consciousness" (ibid.); and, 3., that such discourses andsymbolic representations (quite apart from, or in addition to, their ingrained 'relations ofdomination') offer an absurd definition of ideal femininity which cannot hope to beachieved by any young woman but is most especially unattainable for a young womanwithout the financial, cultural or social capital to participate in the "liberated" and"liberating" consumption stipulated by gendered projects of empowered reinvention (seeGriffin, 2004; McRobbie, 2004a). Griffin (2004) argues that such conflicting social and169cultural forces create an "impossible girl" (p. 42) and it is in this recognition of the`impossible' positioning of disadvantaged young women through popular notions oflegitimate femininity which I connect to Arendt's concerns with forms of social exclusionwhich cause an identifiable "atrophy in public spaces of appearance" (Arendt, 1958/98).Drawing upon this framework.. I suggest that many of the contradictions whichbecome apparent in these young women's accounts of their own and others femininityreflect a struggle to come to terms with their embodiment of gendered and classed`relations of domination", their need to distance themselves from the banal superfluity(Curtis on Arendt. 1999) of femininity in mass media (and media saturated popularculture) and the elusory power offered by gendered narratives of individualization andcommercialized autonomy (Dillabough, 2008, in conversation). Finally, notions about,and young women's reconciliations of ideal (deviant) femininity are complex.Consequently, the remainder of the chapter outlines the most predominant sub-themesemerging from young women's reconciliations to media representations of ideal (deviant)femininity in terms of: impossible bodies; empowerment, consumption and theeconomies of fashion; and, impossible freedoms.Impossible bodiesEverything in the genesis of the female habitus and in the social conditions of itsactualization combines to make the female experience of the body the limiting case of theuniversal experience of the body-for-others, constantly exposed to the objectificationperformed by the gaze and the discourse of others (Bourdieu, 2001, p. 63).Nowhere is a woman's body more a 'body-for-others' than in the high-glosspages of the magazines which project fashionable (and often paradoxical) images of`ideal" femininity. The following selections from the interviews are taken from the youngwomen's responses to an advertisement taken from Elle Girl magazine (June/July, 2005).170In the image, two tanned. slim young White women are dressed in clothing which reveals(emphasizes) their legs, arms and breasts and they are taking a photo of themselves inwhat looks like a public place:Int.: What's going on here?Cara: Girls trying to look good with their tans and their skinny bodies and theirmini-skirts [...] More like girls in LA or California kind of girls.Usually nowadays girls have to look certain way like how they have to be fit andin style, in clothing [...] It seems like everyone wants the girls to look that certainway, you know, the supermodel type? (age 15).Anne: It's an ad for one thing, just don't buy into it. I really don't care. Twogirls, looking like they're clubbing, taking pictures of themselves, designer shoes,it's the ideal girls [...] I don't know, they all look the same to me (age 16).Sarah: they don't look much older than my age, still in school, their shirts arereally low [...] (age 15)Kate: I think they are pretty, obviously they are air brushed to make them lookextra pretty. Some girls don't know that, it's common sense that no one looksthat beautiful. Anyone would want to look like that but then everyone has theirown sense of beauty. (age 16)Thus we see that young women are consciously media savvy; they know and canreadily identify the commercial aims of gendered media and advertising and theyacknowledge the ubiquitous presence of such media in their lives. In fact, one youngwoman's response to a question about where feminine ideals originate was: "obviouslyfrom the media. I mean, where else are you supposed to get it?" (Anne, age 16). But Isuggest that their embodied, deeply unconscious knowledge (Bourdieu, 2001) is touchedby both the rendering of femininity banal in public spaces (Arendt, 1958/1998, 1963) andthe operation of popular social narratives which cast all young women as equal and ashaving already achieved universal equality and power within cultures of consumption(see Gonick, 2006; Griffin, 2004; Harris, 2004a; McRobbie, 2004a).171The symbolic violence which Bourdieu argues results from the embeddedcirculation of symbolic/masculine domination is perhaps most evident in the youngwomen - s narrated experiences with issues of 'beauty' as the term is used to describe (andmonitor) the female body shape and weight. Despite their derision of mediarepresentations of "skinny" girls, there are always emerging signs of the 'impossible girl'(Griffin. 2004). The young women's narratives reveal their largely unconscious,embodied acknowledgment of normative notions of the ideal female form. Note oneyoung woman's unconscious expression of her embodied understanding of female bodyweight as a normative site of judgment and of evaluating personal worth:Val: He [a male classmate] was really mean to this specific girl, another girl in theclass, chubby.Int.: So she was being harassed.Val: No, he just didn't like her (age 15).Bourdieu (2001) suggests that such unconscious expression is an embodied knowledgewhich reveals an individual's awareness of the "verbal or non-verbal cues whichdesignate the symbolically dominant position" (p. 34). The 'symbolically dominantposition' for femininity is slimness (as judged through a masculine lens) and so from the(embodied) dominant perspective being 'chubby' provides a reasonable explanation forwhy the young woman described in this passage might have been disliked by herclassmate.In the following selections I suggest that we can observe the structures ofmasculine domination operating through young women's perspectives on female bodyshape and weight as such perspectives come together in tension with their similarlyembodied engagement with popular gendered empowerment discourses and their culturalexperiences of being explicitly judged as deviant from the ideal:172Int.: [...] is there an ideal beauty that you think you should be striving for, as agirl in school?Kate: Each person has a different perspective about beauty, in my case beauty forme is not too skinny, but flat tummy, wear[ing] nice clothes.Int.: Where does that pressure come from?Kate: Guys. Some of your friends are naturally beautiful, they don't have to tryto make themselves look beautiful, other people do, and they use makeup withthat. When we go out with a friend someone who is naturally beautiful you'll seethose friends getting hit on by the guys, and then attracting all the guys, then theywould say you are not beautiful. we don't like you.Int.: How does that make you feel?Kate: Makes me feel I am not beautiful, I am not wanted. (age 16)Anne: I think anyone can be beautiful, doesn't matter, if you think you yourselfinside is gorgeous then you are, nobody can stop you, nobody can say anythingagainst you, there are a lot of this problem [sic] at school — they would say 'goaway, you're so ugly', well [I say] my boyfriend doesn't think so.Int.: Do people say that?Anne: Yes, they do and it's ridiculous. I have really good looking girlfriendswho are maybe becoming models [...] they don't tease them as they tease me.They sure make fun of me more, and it hurts me more [...]. (age 16)Gendered empowerment narratives position young women as autonomous agents who.because of their liberated status and media savvy, can consciously choose to remainunaffected by media proliferated representations of "perfect" (often surgically or digitallyaltered) female bodies; representations which themselves are underpinned by thesymbolic discourse of gendered empowerment (see McRobbie, 2004a). And so, on onehand ideal femininity is ubiquitously presented as an 'impossible' body and on the otherhand association with ideal femininity is formed through the conscious affirmation of theparity of all female bodies. Such contradictions are difficult to reconcile and I suggestthat in seeking to distance themselves from the public sexualization and fetishization offemininity through mass media proliferation of such representations (what Arendt mighthave called the banal rendering of femininity superfluous in public spaces) young womenexpress the structural paradox as a personal inability to achieve the similarly idealized173feminine quality of detachment from such media pressures; that is to say, of feelingempowered.Moreover, the young women's personal embodiment of this social/structuralparadox was often revealed through their imagined perceptions of external judgment oftheir body shape and weight. One young woman noted that in elementary school she waslabeled "fat and ugly" and now in high school, though part of the "popular" femalegroup, she "still has that feeling that other people think [she's fat] — like guys and otherstuff..." (Cara, age 15). Cara relayed this information in the context of identifying as ayoung woman with Asian heritage in an "Asian school" (ibid.). She identified thestereotypical norm for Asian women as very slim and then compared herselfunfavourably to her "somatic" personalization of dominant constructions of normative,racialised femininity (Bourdieu, 2001). Another young woman's response to the questionof defining deviant femininity reflected a similar critique of her body against dominantsocial norms as well as her embodiment of gendered empowerment narratives whichdemand that she "own" her anxiety about such imagined judgments:Int.: What's the 'abnormal' girl?Anne: Fat, probably, deformed, these are people that guys tend to stay awayfrom. I consider myself a little chubby but that's in my own opinion, that's notother people's.r• • -1I'm not very overweight but I do insecurity issues, right? Because I'mtaller than most girls and I'm quite a bit bigger than most girls [.. I (age 16)And so, in one example we can observe the intersections of stereotypes of race andgender in the creation of a normative feminine ideal and on another level we might notethat in both examples we see that the imagined feeling or sense of being judged as174'deviant' in terms of body shape or weight is as relevant a (symbolic) violence as is theactual experience of judgment.Bourdieu (2001) notes that the embodiment of masculine domination reveals itselfthrough the "apparent arbitrariness of an inclination" despite the presence of consciousthoughts and expressions which would seem to contradict such inclinations (p.36).Moreover, he argues that 'acts of cognition are acts of practical recognition. doxicacceptance, a belief that does not need to be thought and affirmed as such. and which in asense 'makes' the symbolic violence which it undergoes" (p. 34). I suggest the youngwomen's contradictory references to what "guys" think, say or want, to their feelings ofimagined judgment and to the 'truth' of all beauty being equal represent a form of`practical recognition' which reflects the deeply paradoxical social notions of genderedindividualism and ideal beauty which operate (through the habitus) to exclude youngwomen from the category of 'ideal girl' whilst simultaneously rendering such exclusion apersonal thought or feeling.Following Bourdieu, then, I would argue that the symbolic violence evidenced inthese young women's feelings of "hurt" and rejection (based on their similar experiencesof being "not beautiful (slim) enough") is 'remade' through their embodiment of the girlpower discourse which operates to require young women to express their individuality by"owning" or personalizing social notions of feminine beauty. Finally, I suggest that thecontradictions we are seeing in these young women's narratives of gender and beautyreveal the "durability" of the "relations of domination" despite (or perhaps because of)popular ideologically driven discourses which regularly announce the demise of such"outdated" relations.175To summarize what I have argued thus far, I note that the seeming ease withwhich these young women initially assess and dismiss media representations of 'ideal'femininity might suggest that the prolific reproduction of such images has little effect oncontemporary, media savvy young women (see Baumgardner & Richards, 2000). But, asMcNay (1999) argues, popular claims which laud young women's "conscious rejectionof popular media ignore the fact that individuals do not straightforwardly reproduce thesocial system is not a guarantee of the inherently resistant nature of their actions (p. 105).Furthermore, Willis (2003) argues that despite the media savvy now comfortablydisplayed by most young people "we should not underestimate the cultural offensive ofcapitalism against the young consumer (p. 401). Such cautions require that youngwomen's dismissal of the effects of domination not be reproduced analytically as anuncritical testament to popular empowerment rhetoric. Moreover, whether they elaborateor not, all of these young women make at least one (un)conscious remark which indicatestheir embodied understanding of a very traditional and deeply gendered equation: slim =beautiful = desirable to men = ideal female; an equation which is reproduced en mass inpopular media and is thus reinscribed on the habitus of young women. And so, despite aconscious recognition of "airbrushing", a dismissal of such images because the models"all look the same", an acknowledgment of the commodification of the femininitydisplayed ("it's an ad for one thing, just don't buy into it"), or an oblique critique of suchfemininity ("trying to look good with their tans and their skinny bodies and their mini-skirts", "low [cut] shirts") we can also observe the symbolic violence revealed in theyoung women's later comments about beauty, body size, weight and shape. Moreover, Ihave argued that the empowerment narratives which underpin images of slim, beautiful176Owl)„del •Vol"'and powerful young women ct/so insist that young women affirm "true equality of allshapes and sizes of feminine beauty (see McRobbie, 2004a. 2005a). And so, youngwomen experience symbolic violence as an unconscious trap which positions thembetween their need to resist the public superfluity of femininity (Arendt) and their use ofdeeply contradictory empowerment narratives which, ultimately, personalize a youngwoman's inability to measure up to (or to not care' about not measuring up to) thefeminine ideal.In the next section I expand upon this theme to explore young women's`impossible' economies of fashionable consumption. I begin by interpreting youngwomen's responses to a media sample which equates consumption with feminine powerusing the sexualized body of a young female model.Empowerment, consumption and the economies of fashionNow You Have the Power" — Young women in drag as powerful decision makers"(Fine, 2004, p.)Figure 11, Elle Girl magazine, VO5 advertisement,June/July 2005 (used with permission)177A V05 hair-styling product advertisement which appeared in the 2005, Jun/Julyedition of Elle Girl (a fashion magazine targeted to teenage young women) declares.Now you have the Power! Show your style who's boss! New VO5 power controlstyling gel puts you in creates a healthy, lively style that does what it'stold...Cmon, take control. (fig. 11)The text appears beside the stylized image of a young women standing with her legsspread wide beneath a leather (possibly `pleather') mini-skirt which appears to besplashed with the advertised gel. Her jacket of the same material is cropped to exposeher belly. Such overt sexual characterization of `powerful' `in control' femininity wasnot remarked upon when it was shown during the interviews. In fact, in relation to thefirst magazine sample this V05 advertisement was received as a positive depiction offemale individuality and power. Note the following selections taken from the interviews:Sarah: She has her own style, I see that right away, she has her hair the way shelikes, she has cool earrings, the clothes she is wearing look like leather, but it'scool because it's her own kind of style.[•••]...her hair looks so cool, it's flipped out really cool, if I were some younger girlnot knowing what I wanted to be, how I wanted to look, I'd be oh her hair is socool, I would cut my hair just like that, style my hair just like that and buy herclothes. (age 15)Cara: More punky style. Like her own she can do whatever she wantstype of thing.[. • -]I think this girl — she's wild, like she can she won't take people's stuff,like if people tell her what to dress like she'll say 'no'.Int.: Right. She might be more of an independent thinker.Cara: Yes. (age 15)Anne: That one is a bit cooler [than the other images shown]. It just seems to bemuch fun, it tends to grab your attention. It looks like they did editing which theyobviously did to make her look like she was formed out of water which isinteresting [...] (age 16)178Although the young women displayed a high degree of critical media acumenwhen faced with advertising which draws upon more stereotypical versions of idealfemininity (White. blonde. very slim, consuming and sexy but passive) the addition of thelanguage and symbolism of girl power to a very similar advertisement operates throughtheir habitus to get in the way of their conscious critique of a similarly stereotypicalrepresentation of femininity. None of the young women remarked upon thisrepresentation's adherence to a dominant standard for feminine beauty: a laughing,happy young White woman with a very slim but curvy body which is encased inrevealing clothing and posed in an overtly sexual manner. In fact, though at differentpoints during the interviews each young woman offers general criticism of media imageswhich present models in "skimpy clothing", cropped shirts and "mini-skirts" none of theyoung women remarks upon the very short skirt or cropped, tight jacket worn by themodel in this advertisement.We might understand this oversight through the operation of the habitus as it isboth inscribed with the "relations of [masculine] domination" and as it operates topredispose us to value particular appearances and ways of appearing within a particularfield or set of overlapping fields (Bourdieu, 2001; Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992). As asocial field contemporary media is rife with representations of the sexualized femaleform. Thus it might be argued that the operations of habitus render mundane a certainlevel of explicit sexualization of femininity by media. But this explanation is incompleteas it does not account for these young women's deft identification of thecommodification of feminine (hetero)sexuality in one image but not the other. I turn,then to McRobbie's observation which suggests that critiques of overtly sexualized media179representations of femininity are obstructed by gendered empowerment narratives whichconstruct an ideal female subject who unconsciously knows women cannot be objectifiedbecause they are already "equal" (see 2004a. 2005a, 2005b).I suggest. therefore. that the young women's positive acceptance of the secondmedia sample (fig. 11) reflects their embodiment of mass media's paradoxical reliance onpopular gendered empowerment narratives to prop up representations of ideal femininitywhich might otherwise be critiqued on the grounds of their sexualization andobjectification of femininity. In this context, I suggest that the young women read themodel's clothing and strong body language as a form of empowered individuality ("shehas her own style, I see that right away"; she can do whatever she wants...she won'ttake other people's stuff'). The second media sample's (fig. 11) commercializedexpression of sexualized femininity is thus rendered legitimate ("cool") by virtue of itsreliance on the discourse and symbolism of popular gendered empowerment.Feminist defense of young women's embodiment of the sexualized popularculture signifiers of femininity positions such embodiment as a feminist assertion of awoman's 'choice' (see Baumgardner and Richards, 2004). But, as Griffin (2004) notes,popular feminist and media constructions of the embodiment of such signifiers as ameasure of 'girl-power' immediately excludes any young woman who is restricted from`choosing' to display her femininity through sexually charged fashions by virtue of herculture, religion, economic status or personal comfort level. In other words, when acertain degree of overtly displayed sexuality becomes part of the dominant culturaldefinition of 'ideal' femininity (regardless of whether such a definition positions womenas either a passive objects or an empowered subjects) 'sexiness' begins to define the180boundaries of gendered exclusion. I now move forward to explore the conditions of suchexclusion with particular reference to the young women's constrained economiccircumstances.Young women's consumption of media-driven fashions cannot be discussedwithout an understanding of how economic status intersects with and complicates thesocial directive to achieve "freedom" and public legitimacy through consumption (seeGonick, 2006; Harris, 2004a; Willis, 2003). Although all of the young women callattention to the tension between their constrained economic circumstances and populargendered mandates of fashion(able) consumption, the narratives reveal that they eachreconcile such tensions in varied ways. Such variation. I would argue, can be attributed,in part, to their identification within particular school peer groups and to their relationshipwith particular narratives of social class and race. Finally, I note each young woman'sin-common use of the symbolism and discourse of popular gendered empowermentnarratives in her explanation of her relationship to fashion and to the fashionable drive toconsume.The following passages highlight some of the young women's responses tofashion and to their reconciliations of their own financially constrained circumstanceswithin the dominant pressure to consume as a measure of ideal femininity:Cara: [...] And it [a suburb of the city] was more of a rich city and my sisterwould always tell me how sometimes she feels pressured to be part of the richgroup.Int.: You mean out there or just in general?Cara: In general like with her friends.[• • -]Int.: And what style and stuff — what's the 'certain look'? Can you describe it forme?Cara: Just type of clothing. Like most girls now buy those really expensiveclothing. Like one sweater is just a hundred something.181Int.: Like name brand?Cara: Yeah.Int.: Where do you think those images come from?Cara: Well mostly t.v. yeah the publicity and everything. [•• -]Cara: If they [other girls] see you based on what you wear they know you're therich type and you can afford that kind of clothing.Int.: All, ok, so there's also a money factor in all of this too. You have to be ableto afford to look like this, is that what you mean?Cara: Yeah. yeah (age 15).Sarah: I just want to be acting myself and acting normalInt.: Do you mean you don't want to be under pressure?Sarah: Just be yourself, if this is the way you act, don't change it for anybody. Instyle, just make up your own style, that's just as cool, that's beauty, that's what Ido. You buy pants and you do something with your pants. Me and my friends welike to glue stuff we just make it our own and we just switch back and forthbecause we are the same size. That's what I think is beauty style (age 15).Int.: What group are you in?Kate: For grade 10, my grade, the popular group we actually care about school, Iam in the school oriented group, fashion too.Int.: Tell me about the fashion part.Kate: Our friends will look into the magazine and we will actually copy it andfind something similar. Nowadays the fashion is chandelier earrings, they will gobuy long earrings.L..]Kate: Most of my friends they go for the punky, stylish look. They like to weardramatic colours, paint their nails black. Different, pretty, unique. But for me Ilike the unique shirt, how they are designed differently, different cuts and folds.(age 16)Significant in each of these accounts is the assertion of a particular feminine identitythrough style. Also significant is that each of these young women identified as belongingto or "sometimes hanging around" (Cara) the "popular group" (Kate, Sarah, Cara andseveral other young women not involved in the study) for her grade. In general the youngwomen in the popular group most often identified the cost of fashion as problematicwithin the context of trying to subvert such constraints through the "active appropriation"(Willis, 2003; also see symbolic creativity, 1990) of particular styles (displayed in media)182through which they asserted their identity as "stylish", "pretty", and "unique" youngwomen. And, although each young woman in the 'popular group' described her ownparticular notion of ideal style, the language used by each young woman was remarkablysimilar. Their experiences with fashion were most often infused with the symbolism ofpopular empowerment and 'reinvention' narratives (lust make it our own [style]","don't change for anybody", "different, pretty, unique") which problematically equatecollective reinvention within narrowly defined territories of 'ideal' feminine style. Thusfor the popular' peer group the ability to reinvent the female 'self through fashionbecomes a mark of socio-economic status and a site of peer monitoring of an impliedacceptance (or rejection) within the dominant group. The young women who 'belonged'to this group were able to subvert the issue of being labeled unfashionable (due toeconomic constraint) in a way that reinforced their high social status as 'ideal' or popularfemales within the school context. But, as Willis (1999) notes "human consumption doesnot simply repeat the relations of production — and whatever cynical motives lie behindthem. Interpretation, symbolic action and creativity are part of consumption" (p. 21).And so, although these young women subscribe to more traditional modalities offemininity through their appropriation of fashion trends to suit their more constrainedcircumstances, I note that McNay's theory of "generative agency...explain[s] theelements of variability and potential creativity immanent to even the most routinereproduction of gender identity" (1999, p. 101).On the other hand, those young women who did not identify as 'belonging' to thepopular group made sense of dominant narratives of reinvention through fashion througha disassociation of such narratives from their understanding of 'practical' reality and by183positioning themselves in opposition to other young women who invested in fashion.And so Val, who identified with a group of young women who were largely ignoredwithin the classroom said that she and the other young women within her group used theterm "hard-core" to classify "girls" who they felt used "appearance" to get attention:some rely on physical appearance...they dress nice, they have money" (age 15). Shealso suggested that such interests are antithetical to a commitment to school work and soresists the imperative to 'reinvent' through fashion via a complicated assertion of heracademic commitment as different from 'other' young women's lack of academicsensibilities. Moreover, she tied such an imagined lack to her peers' appearance-conscious bids for attention which she later set against her own 'choice' to distanceherself from such attention-seeking appearances: "I don't like the attention" (ibid.).Another young woman reconciled her disinvestment from fashion and fashionablereinvention narratives by describing her attitude toward fashion in practical terms.Following an earlier discussion wherein she expressed her "frustrat[ion]" with "all theskinny bimbos running around trying to be Paris Hilton" 106 Anne situated her own lackof interest in fashion in opposition to other young women's financial freedom to consume(her definitions are based upon having attended a school in a privileged area for sixmonths):Int.: [...] does it make a difference depending on whether you're in a highereconomic bracket or a lower one or, you know, if your school if on the downtowneast side or if it's on the upper west side?Anne: I think it does make a lot of difference. Because my mom has gonethrough money trouble, right? And I see it because she's like, Anne, you know06^•Paris Hilton is a pop culture celebrity who styles herself as a fashion icon and whose initial fame cameabout as a result of the "accidental" mass production of her private sex video. In some popular circles sheis praised for her business acumen and "liberated choice" to sensationalize her sexuality as a means ofpower.184what? We can't spend much money this month [...] But when you're on the westside and you have lots of money you don't even have to worry about it [...]Because on the west side there'll always be food in their fridges. But when youcome on the east side you know that people are low on money [...]. There's notenough money to buy food, which is an essential part of living.Anne: Yeah. And for me, I'm just like, I have clothes since a long time ago[laughing]. I've been wearing this shirt for like so many months because I love it[...] (age 16).Here and elsewhere in the interviews Anne. like Val. implicitly framed fashionand gendered fashionable reinvention as of interest to those who must have no other(practical) concerns. And again, such concerns are expressed as deeply personal andembodied understandings of social realities. And so, although all of these young womenexpress their experience of similar financial constraints those young women whoseappearances did not fit within the dominant popular group mitigated their exclusion fromthe normalized feminine 'ideal' within the school and validated their own worth bydrawing upon what McRobbie (2005a) observes is a contemporary media form of"female symbolic violence" as a process of "class differentiation" based on taste andparticular investments in appearance (pp. 99 & 102). And, as Willis (2003) argues, it isagainst popular groups within the school culture that those who do not belong to suchhigh status groups "are likely to seek justifications for their own positions in relation tothe dominant popular in the magnification of the mappings of distinction that arebeneficial to them" (p. 407). And so again, the social conditions of exclusion based oneconomic constraints which block access to the most popularly disturbed means of powerfor young women remain largely invisible as the dominant conflation of the consumptionof fashion, self-reinvention and a hyper-sexual version of female power plays out in the185cultural field of the school as a series of "choices and 'distinctions' which are framed aspersonal judgments of value.Impossible FreedomsAdvertising marketed to young women presents such young women as powerfulleaders with the ability to act freely as individuals in an unconstrained world of unlimitedpossibility. Although the samples are limited to what Willis (1990) refers to as "style-and-identity products", such language is largely representative of the language andsymbolism ubiquitous within media which targets young women and offers idealizedrepresentations of young, female subjects. Moreover, such gendered media suggests thatlifestyle' choices translate into a sort of generalized freedom of choice and acquisition ofpower. In reality, the narratives of young women who live in disadvantagedcircumstances reveal the social, economic and symbolically embodied constraints whichmark their everyday experiences and their plans for the future. In this last section of thechapter I compare gendered empowerment narratives' representation of young women asconstrained only by their personal ambition and drive to the actual lived circumstances ofyoung women's lives and with their projected plans for the future.All of the young women involved in this research expressed a desire to (at leastfor a time) leave their neighbourhood in order to travel, attend university or college, tohave a career and in one instance to avoid her parents' plan to "arrange" a marriageimmediately post high school. Yet their expressed desires to build a career and to attendpost secondary school are often juxtaposed with descriptions of a future in which theyposition themselves as the main caretakers of children, husband and home,. Indeed, for186most of these young women, the care of younger siblings, concern about family financesand the preparation of family meals is already part and parcel of their everyday life.Although she has an older male sibling, one young woman was responsible forher younger sibling on weekends and organized alternate child care from her peer groupwhen she was scheduled to work a weekend shift at her part-time job (Kate, 16).Another, who also had an older brother living at home, was expected to leave schoolearly to care for her younger sibling when the he was too young for day care,Cara: Yeah, my morn would make me come home early [from school] to take careof him [younger brother]. But now I come home right after school so he's justalone for a little while (age 15).Such responsibilities are best understood in terms of their relationship to bothsocio-economic status and gender. While these young women partially attributed theirresponsibility for domestic and economic duties to living with a single parent and/or theirparent having "no choice" but to work long hours for little compensation they also oftenobserved their own place as young women in more traditional divisions of genderedlabour. I suggest that such acceptance reveals their unconscious embodiment of thesocial operations of masculine domination and, furthermore, calls attention to whatBourdieu (2001) labels the "durable effects" of the 'relations of domination' even in theface of popular narratives of empowered femininity which position young women asagents of choice and change (see Gonick, 2006; Griffin, 2004; McRobbie, 2004a).The relations of masculine domination are just that, relations; and so the 'durableeffects' of such domination are best revealed in the contrasts between male and femaleroles, duties and responsibilities to which the young women often referred. One youngwoman noted that her older brother lives in the family home, arrives home late in the187evening and then leaves early in the morning for work while she stays home before andafter school in order to help her mother with domestic duties (Cara, age 15). Anotheryoung woman described the different activities of her male and female peers and drewsuch comparisons along class lines in relation to her recent experiences in a school in amore privileged neighbourhood:Anne: The guys...I think the goal of a lot of guys [on the East side] gettheir own place, to try and not get someone pregnant, and to keep onworking...have a decent job so they can have their luxuries.[...]I find that girls would probably want to be able to support their familiesmore...Because they've seen their mother do that for so long that they probablywant to help out with the house. I mean, that's what I do. I stay home and dodishes one day so my mom can keep going to work and stuff, right?[•• .]And there' this other girl that I know and she's from Mexico and her mother'sfrom Mexico and her mother just had a kid, but the father's still in Mexico. Andshe's getting a job right now and helping her mom look after her new babybrother. And that's just that family commitment that that girl has to her family isreally strong on the east side. And I find that on the west side a girl will just dropher shit, get it all together and like, just leave. And will feel nothing. No sense ofguilt or anything for doing that (age 16).Apart from what I would suggest is evidence of the clear relevance of Bourdieu'sinsistence on the resilience of masculine domination in contemporary society I would liketo call attention here to Anne's awareness of the operations of class and economicdisadvantage in young women's plans for the future, although she attributes suchdifferences in social access to personal characteristics. Access to higher education andcareer together with the freedom to focus on such aspirations to the exclusion of domesticresponsibilities ("drop her shit, get it all together and just leave") is directly dependentupon economic and social capital. I suggest that Anne's narrative account of thedifferences between east and west side domestic responsibility reflects a complex processof conscious and unconscious engagement with traditional feminine norms of private188power (see Bourdieu, 2001). She reconciles both economic necessity and the structuraloperation of masculine domination which demands that young women in constrainedsocial and economic circumstances take on traditional domestic duties by identifying theshouldering of such duties as a personal attribute rather than the embodiment of a deeplyhistorical class/gender order. Meaning is thus created out of necessity as fragments ofcontemporary manifestations of masculine domination are subverted by the reproductionof traditional symbols of ideal femininity. More specifically, this young womangenerates meaning within her constrained social and economic circumstances bysubverting popular constructions of the empowered, self-focused thus ideal youngwomen via an embodiment of the more traditional symbolic language of the selfless,ideal female homemaker.As Willis (1990) notes, traditional narratives of femininity seem to retain strongerties within working class and lower socio-economic communities. Walkerdine et al(2001) also remark that in their study of young working class women, "class as anindicator of social difference... [was] a reliable predictor of the different life paths andchances of the young women who took part in [their] research" (p. 6). In relation to themedia and to media's reproduction of the dominant structures of the social world, youngwomen' experience of marginalization and disadvantage is particularly marked by statichistorical and gendered hierarchies. Willis (1990) elaborates,On one hand [economically disadvantaged young women] are a target group formany home commodities as well as for feminine style-and-identity products. Onthe other hand, and with no money recompense and no real power in theconsumer market, they may be making partial, early and exploited 'transitions'(often in an imperceptible extension of childhood domestic chores 'naturally'expected of girls but not of boys) into domestic roles of care and maintenance. (p.13)189And so we might begin to see how masculine domination operates along both classed andgendered lines in the lives of these young women.I turn now to one young woman's account of what. in terms of this research.became the most obvious example of the resilience of traditional forms ofsymbolic/masculine domination in contemporary times. Moreover. her experiences ofeconomic disadvantage in relation to dominant representations of ideal and ideallyempowered femininity are further complicated by her desire to distance herself from theethnic and religious ties of her parent's culture. I have included a great deal of hernarrative here as her own words express the complexity of her situation better than anyexplanation I could offer:Cara: [...] Because we're Muslim we have a tradition how we get an arrangedmarriage. Yeah, I don't feel comfortable with that 'cause my mom she has acrazy idea that she wants me to marry my cousin. And I think it's reallydisgusting.Int.: Have you been able to tell her that?Cara: Yeah, I yelled at her [...]Int.: Does it work out ok with your family when you're trying to say to them thatthis isn't going to be?Cara: I'm worried in the future when I do end up getting married 'cause theyreally want me to marry another Muslim relative. Maybe not by blood but still Idon't feel comfortable with that.1...1it's like my family in Cambodia. It's what my parents want me to do too, get anarranged marriage right after I graduated and just be a stay at home mom, stuckthere for the rest of my life. And I don't want to because I want a career ahead ofme too.But I worry that if I do kind of go my own way my parents won't be in my life inthe future.Int.: Is that right? Have they said that to you? [...]Cara: Yeah, 'cause they really, 'cause all of my relatives on my dad's sidethey've done it the traditional way. And one time he talked to my brother about itand he said he doesn't, and he really wants one of us to at least be part of that...hefeels it was a mistake to raise us in Canada 'cause he thinks we're all corruptednow. (Cara, 15)190Cara's desire to resist her family's tradition of arranged marriage was not withoutcomplication. She was pressured by concerns about the possible consequences of suchsubversive action and her fears are based in experience. Cara observed her older sister'speriod of familial isolation and now strained familial relationship which came aboutfollowing her older sister's resistance to an arranged marriage:Cara: [...] 'Cause my mom tried to do that [arrange a marriage] to my sister tooand she got really mad and said...she kind of went wild and left the house [...][Int.: But does she have contact with your parents?Cara: Before when she left the house she barely visits but now she at least visitsonce or twice every month.Int.: And is it ok?Cara: Yeah, she still calls sometimes.As Cara's words indicate, the decision to resist such cultural norms is not, asmedia representations of fun, fearless and empowered young women project. as easy anduncomplicated as "abandoning" the "latest trend" (Elle Girl, 2005, CocaColaadvertisement) or "taking control" of a hairdo (see fig. 11). The gendered and symboliclanguage of media often implicitly conflates fashion, beauty and 'lifestyle' choices with ageneralized freedom to be, to feel or to act in all areas of life (see McRobbie, 2005a).Cara's experiences clearly conflict with popular media suggestions that contemporaryyoung women are free to choose to either embrace or abandon femininities, seemingly atwhim. Yet the language she uses to express her desire to subvert her family's tradition ofarranged marriage ('go my own way') is infused with the empowerment symbolism ofthe unconstrained choices of a 'free' individual. And though she expresses her strongantipathy for her parents' cultural tradition of arranged marriage, in other sections of theinterviews she asserts a strong desire for marriage on her own terms. Thus we can see191that young women's resistance to and reproduction of larger social structures areparticularly infused and thus constrained by the operations of symbolic/masculinedomination (Bourdieu. 2001) and discourses of gendered empowerment. Cara's narrativereveals the depth of the conflict between popular representations of independent.`empowered' women and the complicated and constrained circumstances in which youngwomen actually live.The possible repercussions within Cara's family for her subversion of thetradition of arranged marriage are real and have significant meaning for her and for herplans for the future. As she remarked, her father is very sensitive to any perceivedexpressions of gendered 'empowerment' because of his preexisting concerns about thechallenges to his own cultural heritage which have risen out of the family's move toCanada. Thus, for Cara access to problematic gendered expressions of empoweredfemininity is constrained not only by her economic circumstances but also by the normsand values of her familial culture and religion. The popular imperative to be anindividual' carries with it the heavy burden of possible isolation from familial andcultural networks of support. On the other hand, should she acquiesce to her family'swishes or indeed embrace the practice of arranged marriage, Cara faces exclusion fromher Canadian peer group. As we see here, she has already experienced exclusion relatedto her Cambodian-Muslim cultural heritage:Int.: [reads from a classroom exercise in which Cara reflects upon personalexperiences with exclusion] ...harmful, excluded from others, used to be madefun of, arranged marriage, can't eat pork...' it's a very good summary of whatyou've already been talking about. So in a way being Muslim is presenting allthese problems in the Canadian context [...]Cara: mm hmmm [in agreement] Yeah. (age 15)192Though dominant Canadian socio-cultural structures are infused with a longhistory of masculine domination, the same structural mores identify arranged marriage asoutside the 'norm' for 'ideal' young women. This Cara's connection to the practices ofarranged marriage (as well as other aspects of her cultural and religious heritage) set herapart. In this context, arranged marriage, also part of the heritage of masculinedomination (Bourdieu, 2001), isolates her experiences from those of her peers and so sheis caught within what Griffin identifies as the "double marginalization" which occurswhen a young woman's particular ethnic background is devalued within public space(2004, p. 36). Thus Cara's narrative reveals her unique experience of exclusion as genderand social/economic location intersect with religion and culture in a particular nationalcontext. 107When positioned within their social/historical context, Cara's actions and`choices' cannot be construed as free. Cara, like all of us, is inextricably connected toboth the norms and values of her parents' cultural and religious heritage and to thedominant norms which operate within a Canadian high school in an urban, inner-citycontext. In other words, to interpret Cara's expression of resistance as the desiring act ofa 'free agent' ignores the obvious and hidden, conscious and unconscious socialconstraints inscribed on her body through the habitus (Bourdieu, 2001). Though herexpressed desire to avoid a marriage arranged by her parents subverts (in a particular andcontingent moment) hetero-dominant social norms of marriage, childrearing anddomestic arrangements her act of resistance is bracketed within the interwoven fetters ofher position within her family and her social location within a particular state.107 Although I end my analysis here it is certainly possible to extend an analysis of Cara's narrative toinclude discussions of nationalism, identity and exclusion. See Nayak, 2003, Brown and Halley, 2002,Bourdieu, 1998 among many others.193If, as Skeggs (1997) argues. "femininity is always classed" (in Bullen andKenway. 2004) then I suggest that on one level we can read young women's"investment" with more traditional femininities as the acquisition of the cultural capitalof "respectability" in constrained economic circumstances (pp. 147-148). In some waysit might be argued that Anne's and her friend's 'investment' in traditional femininitiesrepresents disadvantaged young women's resistance to the contemporary feminine idealof reinvention through compulsory consumption of fashion and of ideologies of femininepsychology and appearance. But if we do argue that these young women are resistingdominant notions of ideal femininity we must recognize that such resistance is also bornof necessity and so we must take care to avoid casting such resistance as the liberated actof a socially and politically free young women. Moreover, such resistance is rooted inthe private realm and so loses the (albeit problematic) status of legitimate citizenshippublicly bestowed on young women whose economic circumstances allow them toparticipate in such gendered consumption. In this way the identities of femininedisadvantage are rendered superfluous within the public realm and despite their resistancethese young women are still struggling to contend with the social structures which renderthem Griffin's "impossible subjects" (2004, p. 42).ConclusionThe young women interviewed in this study are not unwitting "victims" of mediadomination. They do not mindlessly ape the ideal fashions, "lifestyles" and bodyshape/weight reproduced in the thousands upon thousands of media images whichsaturate our public spaces. In fact, as I have shown in this chapter, the young women194often provided adept critiques of media-driven images of ideal femininity. Moreover,their fashion "choices" (though made in constrained economic circumstances) reflect agenerative and creative (see McNay, 2000: Willis. 1990) effort to "appropriate" (Willis.2003) and thus alter popular fashion and ideas about fashion to fit with their ownmeaningful expressions of selfhood. And yet, the young women's narratives also testifyto the fact that the effects of mass media representation of (often contradictory) ideal(deviant) femininities is felt as a form of symbolic violence (Bourdieu, 2001). So, forexample, while these young women might easily criticize unrealistic representations offeminine body weight and shape or mediated notions of feminine sexuality they alsoexpress painful feelings of being ostracized and objectified ("I have my insecurityissues", they say go away, you're so ugly...and it hurts me" Anne, 16; "makes me feel Iam not beautiful, I am not wanted" Kate, 16). Moreover. I have argued that becausemedia representations of idealized gendered empowerment and reinvention imply thatyoung women are 'free to choose' to be, to act, to speak and to think in ways limited onlyby their conscious imagination, such feelings become reinscribed on their habitus aspersonal, internal deviations from the ideal of independent feminine power and so act asanother form of symbolic violence (Bourdieu, 2001).Importantly, and as Walkerdine et al (2001) note, narratives of genderedempowerment are closely allied with what Rose (1992) describes as the contemporaryglobal ascent of neo-liberal economics within the social sphere which carry thepersonalized imperative to " meaningful, as if it were the outcome ofindividual choices made in the furtherance of a biographical project of self-realization[and] ...however apparently external and implacable may be the constraints, obstacles195and limitations" (p. 12 in Walkerdine et al. 2001, p. 2). Moreover, there is an Orwellianquality to the way in which gendered empowerment narratives effectively remove thelanguage which might be used to critique media representations of ideal (deviant)femininity and to describe the distinctly social nature of economic constraint andexclusion based on social and cultural circumstances (see McRobbie, 2004a, 2005a; Taft.2004). Under such social influences. young women who are -doubly marginalized"(Griffin, 2004, p. 36) are left with little choice but to (largely unconsciously) internalizetheir "failures" to reconcile 'impossible' femininities. 108 As I have argued, thepersonalization of social processes results in the social and cultural reproduction ofsymbolic violence (Bourdieu, 2001). Moreover and from an Arendtian standpoint. our -contemporary norm of embodying any recognition of the social as personal means that"we are each driven back on our own subjective experience, in which only our feelings,wants, and desires have reality" (Canovan in Arendt, 1958/98, p. xiii). Arendt observesthat the ideological imperative to "attempt to reduce all experiences, with the world aswell as with other human beings, to experiences between man and himself [sic]" resultsin "world alienation" (1958/98, p. 254). Through such 'world alienating' socialimperatives and processes young women who live in economically disadvantagedcircumstances are left with few avenues to political or public legitimacy. Those pathswhich might lead to potential political "insertions" within common spaces of action andappearance (1958/98, pp.175-247) are obstructed not only by problematic (see the`durability' of symbolic/masculine domination, Bourdieu, 2001) and increasingly108 The gendered self-help discourse which underpins media makeover projects (see chapter four andMcRobbie, 2005a) uses the market language of ownership to encourage such personalization of externalconstraint.196superfluous representations of (girl)empowered femininity 1°9 but also by their financially(and sometimes culturally) constrained ability to "be" the empowered, reinventing.consuming girl' (see Harris. 2004a).And so while I would argue that while sites of young women's reflection do exist,larger social narratives of individualized and gendered empowerment and consumptionget in the way of more politically active resistance to idealized femininities. Finally, Iwould like to again recognize that this research is very preliminary and so, while therewere individual accounts which might indicate stronger forms of resistance and whichmight have developed into suggestive themes within a larger analysis. I could not suggesthere that they in any sense formed an emerging theme. They might, however, point toimportant areas for further research in this field. In the final chapter I explore what Ibelieve to be fruitful areas of further study and I frame such explorations within adiscussion of the combined findings of this thesis and of the ethical and politicalramifications of these findings.109 I am referring here to both the sexualized, fetishized and "girly" (Baumgardner & Richards, 2004)aspects of "girl power" and to the discourses which connect such power to notions of a reinventing,consuming and individualized legitimate citizen (see Harris, 2004a; McRobbie, 2004a).197Chapter SixCONCLUSIONThe tragedy is that what is sometimes called the anesthetization of experience does notactually change the material relation between freedom and necessity, between the chosenand the determined. [...] We must not overlook that the super-abundance of images andimaginary possibilities of apparently free-floating and classless forms of consumptionintersect with materially worsening conditions for large sections of the [subordinateclasses]. (Willis, 2003. p. 408)My abiding concern in this thesis has been to open new spaces for thinking aboutthe conditions and potential effects of the mass production and consumption of mediarepresentations of ideal (deviant) femininity in relation to economically disadvantagedyoung women's reconciliations of such depictions and their own accounts of socialexclusion. Broadly speaking, in this final chapter I use Arendtian lines of thinking toexplore how we might respond ethically and practically to two "ideological[ly] tinged"questions asked by Willis (2003) in particular relation to how femininities areconstructed, commodified and consumed in the world. First, "where are the means forthe majority to find a collective place in the sun free from ideological straightjackets" (p.409)? And secondly, "where are the means for the democratic production of newsymbolic and informational goods" (ibid.)? In other words, how and where might webegin to imagine and create spaces in which female subjectivities might be framed inmore public, political and inclusive ways?I begin with a summary of my central arguments throughout this thesis and thenmove forward to discuss the possibilities for change or resistance inherent within thefields of media, education and academic scholarship (see Bourdieu, 1998, 2001; Bourdieu& Wacquant, 1992). I pay particular attention to research which explores and suggestsnew forms of school based engagements with popular culture and mass media (see198Poyntz, 2006; Stack and Kelly. 2006). I also note that up until this point, this thesis hasprimarily concerned itself with the relationship between young women who live indisadvantaged economic circumstances and the deeply gendered and classed media whichpurport to represent them. But I would argue that maintaining such a singular focus inthe final discussion risks positioning young women's responses to media in anothercontextual vacuum. 110 As Reay (2001) notes, "femininities can only be understoodrelationally" (p. 153). Therefore, in this final chapter I expand my focus in terms ofexploring how schools might foster conditions in which young people (and the educators,parents and guardians in their lives) might become engaged in politically oriented andcontext embedded critiques of media representations of ideal (deviant) femininity. Iconclude by revisiting Arendt's ethically oriented concerns regarding the necessity forinclusive public spaces of political engagement and debate which recognize the essentialplurality of humanity (see 1958/1998). Finally, within this closing chapter I also refer,where appropriate, to tentative findings which emerged from the interviews with theyoung women who were involved in this research and which suggest the "possibility"(see Arendt, 1958/1998) of "generative" (Bourdieu, 1997/2000; McNay, 2000) forms ofresistance to such dominant and ubiquitously visible notions of femininity.Summary of arguments and findingsMedia stories in which representations of femininity are grounded in a history andin the recognition of "human particularity" (without conflating such particularity with10 Furthermore, I suggest that if my conclusions and suggestions for sites of possible change were to focusentirely on young women who live in economically disadvantaged circumstances then I would bereproducing the conditions in which the social effects of deeply classed and gendered media are ascribed asa series of limiting and personalized What character traits (see Arendt, 1958/1998) to the "unfolding" Whoof such young women (ibid.; also see Dillabough, 2008, forthcoming).199Otherness or individualization) are few and far between (see Curtis on Arendt, 1999).Popular depictions of femininity simultaneously objectify, sexualize and fetishize youngfemininity (often using the doxic symbolism of class. race, gender stereotyping) andpresent young women as powerful and self empowered free agents who must perpetuallyreinvent themselves in the direction of an increasingly "impossible" ideal (see Griffin,2004). I have argued that "relations" of symbolicinascilline domination continue to be"durably" but mutably embedded within contemporary media (Bourdieu, 2001) and thatseemingly "resolved" gendered class divisions are "remade" (Walkerdine et al, 2001) innew forms through media representations of the deviant young woman (also see Lawler,2005; McRobbie. 2005a; Skeggs, 2005). I have examined samples of such media which,at its most extreme, presents surgically, digitally or traumatically reinvented femininity asa "normal" ideal (see chapter four). I have suggested that such norms eventually becomeembedded, naturalized and rendered "acceptable" within the popular imaginary (seeBourdieu's conceptualization of the paradox of doxa, 2001) and so contribute to thethoughtless (Arendt, 1963, 1958/1998) proliferation of sexualized, fetishized andpathologized versions of femininity in public spaces. All the while, the social andeconomic structures which constrain and oppress the lives of many young women areignored, obscured or misconstrued and misrepresented by popular media as being part ofthe personal "character" of such young women (see Arendt, 1958/1998 on the conflationof What and Who). Thus, the mass proliferation of illusory, objectified and commodifiedfemininity operates, I have argued, to render the private feminine irrelevant or banalwithin public space (Arendt, 1963, 1958-1998, p. 50-52 & pp. 181-188).200In relation to Arendt's concerns with creating the possibility for young women toappear in public space, I have followed the work of those feminist theorists who critiquediscourses of gendered empowerment which frequently underpin media representationsof ideal (deviant) femininity on the following grounds. First, gendered empowermentnarratives often paradoxically declare contemporary young women "free" from hyper-sexual. fetishized and pathologized media images (by virtue of their media savvy andapparent social and political "equality") and "free" to "choose" to emulate suchrepresentations as expressions of feminine power (see Gonick, 2006; Griffin, 2004;McRobbie, 2004a). In my interviews with young women, I observed how suchcontradictory messages could result in the reproduction of symbolic violence (Bourdieu,2001) as the young women personalized and individualized occurrences of genderedsocial exclusion based on dominant notions of ideal female appearance, body shape andweight. Further, I found that though each young woman was relatively adept at critiquingmedia images of idealized femininity they frequently attributed their feelings ofinadequacy and pain in the face of gendered exclusion based on media promulgatedideals either to their own inability to "measure up" to the feminine ideal or their personal"self-esteem/self-confidence" deficiencies (see chapter five).On a second level, popular gendered empowerment discourses construct the idealyoung woman as one who exercises legitimate and legitimating powers of consumerchoice (see Harris, 2004a; McRobbie, 2004a). Harris (2004a) notes that as anempowered consumer in a commodified world the legitimately participating girl engagesin projects of perpetual reinvention and self-improvement which are positioned outsidepublic spaces of engagement. It thus follows that any young woman who, because of201financial constraints, cannot engage in such consumption practices is cut off from the(albeit generally problematic) publicly legitimizing projects of reinvention throughconsumption. The findings from the interviews show that although all of the youngwomen who I interviewed account for the pressure to consume particular fashions, stylesand trends in relation to their own constrained financial circumstances, theirreconciliations of such tension were marked by their contingent social and culturalcircumstances. But regardless of these contingent differences, I also found that the youngwomen drew upon dominant notions of individualism to either assert subjectivities ofindependence in relation to the pressure to consume ("I really don't care" [Anne, age 16];"Some [girls] rely on appearance...they dress nice. they have money...I don't like theattention" [Val, age 15]) or to participate as consuming/reinventing subjects by"appropriating" (Willis, 2003) commercial fashions in less costly, more creative ways("we actually copy [a style] and find something similar...different, pretty, unique" [Kate,age 16]; "just make up your own style... you buy pants and do something with yourpants" [Sarah, age 15]).Thus, from an Arendtian perspective, popular gendered empowerment narratives,with their strong ties to commercialized sexuality and to individualism and consumptionas a primary mode of legitimate citizenship, do not open political spaces of appearancefor any young woman and particularly not for young women who might be excludedbased on their economic, social or cultural circumstances (1958/1998; also see Griffin,2004; Taft, 2004). And so, we might begin to see how ubiquitous media representationsof sexualized, fetishized and pathologized femininity which are frequently underpinned202by narratives of gendered empowerment act to "doubly marginalize" young women whoalready experience exclusion based on their positioning within society (Griffin, 2004).In the following section I ask how we might begin to shift these conditions of'double marginalization'. To borrow Willis' (2003) colourful phrasing (cited in theopening paragraph of this chapter), the following pages explore how we might begin toloosen the 'ideological straightjacket' which binds dominant thinking about youngwomen, exclusion and mass media within limited (and limiting) frames of "for oragainst" (Bourdieu, 1998, p. 22). Toward that end, I explore the possibilities of apedagogical engagement with popular culture and media in schools (with reference topost-secondary teacher education programs) as avenues to opening up discussions aboutpopular, mediated femininities and to place such discussions within a larger social andpolitical context. I also call attention to what Bourdieu variously calls the "duty", the"role" or the "immense historical responsibility" born by "public intellectuals" toregularly attempt to insert (Arendt, 1958/1998) their research into the public realm inorder to "break[] the appearance of unanimity which is the greater part of the symbolicforce of dominant discourse (1998, p. viii). I begin with a brief discussion of Bourdieu'sunderstanding of the potential nature of, and sites for, social change because although (Ibelieve) he accounts for the potential or the possibility for change in the world, theoverarching message inherent within his thinking reminds us that we cannot think aboutchange outside of our embodiment of the structures of our social world (also see Lawler,2005b). I would argue that this is a particularly important perspective to keep in mindIn her concluding remarks about the potential for change in Bourdieu's theory, Lawler (2005b) suggeststhat Bourdieu is "pessimistic" but not "deterministic" in his theorizing of the "relations of domination"(Bourdieu, 2001). She connects this assertion to a reflection on Gramsci's understanding of "pessimism of203if we consider how the dominant discourses which claim "freedom and a "voice" foryoung women also frame social issues of economic constraint, gendered and socialexclusion as individual problems with personalized solutions (self-esteem. self-improvement, reinvention).Potential sites of "possibility" and change(Arendt, 1958/1998)Consciousness and structure are two intertwined poles of continuous cultural processes. Ifconsciousness has to change, so does structure (Willis, 2003, p. 409).A recurring critique of Pierre Bourdieu's work suggests that in his focus on the"durability" of "relations of domination" he closes off the possibility of change (seeAdkins, 2005, introductory comments). While I would agree that Bourdieu encourageshis readers to recognize and account for the embeddedness of historical structures withinour multiple social fields and in our habitus. I would also argue that his sociology allowsfor the possibility of recognizing (and thus altering) the processes and "mechanisms" ofthe naturalization and "eternalization" of domination (in 2001 also see1998; BourdieuWacquant, 1992). Moreover, at different points in his work, Bourdieu identifies schoolsand media as sites or fields where structures (of the "masculine order" and the "wholesocial order") are reproduced (2001, p. 117). In particular, he criticizes those "who writethe newspapers, intellectuals...who are rather too quick to bury the public's interest in thepublic interest" (1998, pp. 6-7) and he takes aim at media representations which reflect apolitical ethos of "submission to the values of the economy" in terms of asking individualcitizens to engage in "self-help" as a means to mitigate the effects of structural processesof domination (ibid.).the intellect [as] the motor for change [because] it demands that we pay attention to inequalities andinjustices" (p. 124).204But if the fields of media and the education system reproduce the structures ofmasculine domination and the 'social order', they are also possible sites of change. In hisown words.if we grant that symbolic systems are social products that contribute to making theworld, that they do not simply mirror social relations but help constitute them thenone can, within limits, transform the world by transforming its representation.(Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992, p.14)Further. Bourdieu argues that 'transforming' the representations of the world' must takethe form of,political action that really takes account of all the effects of domination that areexerted through the objective complicity between the structures embodied in bothwomen and men and the structures of the major institutions through which notonly the masculine order but the whole social order is enacted and reproduced.(2001, p. 117)In other words, he maintains that only a broad and politicized focus on the structures andmechanisms of domination will "contribute to the progressive withering away ofmasculine domination" (ibid.).In the following paragraphs I explore possible avenues and engagements withmass media through which we might begin to challenge the way representations of ideal(deviant) femininity (and young women's responses to such representations) are framedand critiqued in public space. I begin by addressing a concern raised by Stack & Kelly(2006). The authors note that "the focus of public debates about the effects of mediarevolves around children and youth [but] left largely unexplored is the way mediainfluence how adults come to understand children and youth" (p. 8). 112 In relation to thisobservation, I call attention to Bourdieu's understanding of the roles and responsibilitiesof scholars to come together as "collective intellectuals" I13 in order to engage in public1 1' The authors cite the exception of Gilliam & Bales, 2001.I3 I cite another passage where Bourdieu (1998) defines this term from a broader perspective:205resistance to structural forces of domination and to intervene in popularized mediadebates constructed around -social issues" (1998. pp. viii-10). I then move forward toexplore how schools. educators and young people might work with media and popularculture to create and insert (Arendt, 1958/1998) critically and politically informedalternative media into the public domain.Between 2000 and 2001 the Vancouver Sun ran a series of articles abouthomelessness in Vancouver which included two stories about Sherry Cowx; a youngwoman constructed as pathologically needy but beautiful, drug dependent but determinedto improve herself (Nuttall-Smith, 2000, 2001). In 2007 the front cover of Maclean'spresented a provocatively posed, scantily-clad young girl under the banner headline,"Why are we dressing our daughters like skanks?" (George, 2007) (see analysis anddiscussion in chapter four). These are just two examples of a contemporary proliferationof media which present hyper-sexualized, fetishized and pathologized femininity asparadoxically ideal and deviant, depending upon related symbolic markers of class, race,economic status, ethnicity, sexuality and/or diverse ability and according to the publictrends in a particular moment. 114 If "the media are the primary vehicle through which wecome to know ourselves and others" (Stack & Kelly, 2006, p. 20) then it is important forresearchers to begin to focus on how adults, particularly those in positions of political orI would like writers, artists, philosophers and scientists to be able to make their voice hearddirectly in all the areas of public life in which they are competent. I think that everyone wouldhave a lot to gain if the logic of intellectual life, that of argument and refutation, were extended topublic would be a good thing if the 'creators' could fulfill their function of public serviceand sometimes of public salvation. (p. 10)114 Bullock et al (2001) document the classed and racialized references and symbolism in mainstreamgendered media representations of deviancy and pathology; Pomerantz (2006) traces the "moral panic"surrounding young women's sexuality to proliferate representations of hyper-sexualized images offemininity in dominant media; Stack & Kelly (2006) note that notions of criminality and/or anxiety aboutmedia influence on young people are dominant within popular media rather than stories of the-participation of youth in civil society" (p. 8); and, Griffin (2004) calls attention to "Anglocentric" mediaand feminist critique of such media which presents young women as a series of "impossible" subjectivities.206structural power (i.e., legislators, magazine and newspaper editors, educational policymakers and educators, police. and front-line service providers etc.) come to understandand position young women and young women's engagement with popular culture andmass media.Bourdieu notes that (some) 115 academics possess the "strong cultural capital"(2001, p. 124) necessary to engage in critical, public interventions within popular media(also see 1998). And so, like Arendt, who conceives of "freedom" only in the sense ofobserving the appearances of others (and being observed) within an agonistic space ofpolitical, public engagement, Bourdieu insists that the "possibility" for social change isinherent within the public (and publicly accessible) work of "critical intellectuals" (1998,pp. vii-10). In fact, in one of his own most accessible texts, Bourdieu is clear in his callto 'intellectuals' to join him in publicly questioning and challenging the "profoundlypolitical submission implied in the unconscious acceptance of commonplaces" which areperpetuated in mainstream media (p. 8). But as Kelly (2006) warns, academics who "aresought out by the media to offer their views [on issues related to young people] would dowell to be wary of merely being edited to fit the youth-stigmatizing themes too oftenfavored by mainstream media" (p. 42). I would argue, therefore, that researchers whoengage critically with issues related to young women, mass media, economicdisadvantage and social exclusion must find a way to make their arguments and findingspalatable within popular public forums whilst avoiding reducing their work todichotomous frames of debate. I turn now to an exploration of the way schools might115 Bourdieu calls attention to the " the constitution of a collective intellectual" by relaying hisown experiences with publishing articles within the popular press. Often, he notes, particular authors aremarked with substantially more "symbolic capital" than others and so newspaper and magazine editors will"remove names they do not recognize" (1998, pp. viii-ix).207operate as sites of critical and "generative" (Bourdieu, 1997/2000; McNay, 2000)engagement with media representations of ideal (deviant) femininity. I draw upon twoexamples from my own research to illustrate possible strategies through which educatorsand young people might insert (Arendt. 1958/1998) "counter narratives" (Stack & Kelly,2006. p. 20) of femininity into the public realm.Nayak and Kehily (2008) argue that "popular culture [ought to be taken]seriously as a dynamic relationship and central locus through which young people'ssocial worlds are formed" (p. 34). In relation to my own research I would argue thateducators must seek out ways to engage students (and themselves) in generative critiquesof the way media frames female subjectivities in relation to mediated messages ofgendered empowerment. I believe that at the heart of such critiques must lie an intentionto break open dominant dichotomous framings of so-called girl issues so that classroomdebates and discussions might avoid falling into arguments such as whether or notparticular fashions/styles/subjectivities are empowering (or not) for young women.Furthermore, based on my own experiences with teacher training, I would argue that weneed to look closely at how teachers and school administrators are educated in relation totheir access to critiques of gendered "relations of domination" (2001) and the structuralmechanisms (e.g., media, education policy) though which such relations persist. AsBourdieu (2001) observes, "the education system [is] responsible for the effectivereproduction of all the principles of vision and division [of masculine domination], and[is] itself organized around analogous oppositions" (p. 117). If we are to open space forshifting critiques of media representations of ideal (deviant) femininity in the school208setting. then the leaders within educational institutions must be given access to thesymbolic capital (see Bourdieu. 2001) of the language and strategies of social critique.Stack and Kelly (2006) note that research into the central role [education plays]in providing people with the ability to denaturalize everyday media narratives" and thepossibilities for "engaging with the media system. critiquing it. and creating counter-narratives" is increasing (p. 20; also see Poyntz, 2006). In chapter four of this thesis Idraw upon the 'counter narrative' work of Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad (2005), acontemporary retelling of Homer's Odyssey from the perspective of the femalecharacters, and 'brush' (Benjamin, 1968) its alternate historical perspective againstcontemporary media images of femininity. Moreover, there are a number of otherfeminist authors who engage in such rewritings of dominant mythologies which areinscribed with the historical divisions of symbolic/masculine domination (Bourdieu,2001; see Bayam, 1985; Powers, 1991; Heller, 1990 as cited in Goldman, 2004 forfeminist retellings of ancient stories). Through an analysis of how these authors (forexample) visit (Arendt, 1958/1998; also see description of the concept of visiting inchapter one) alternate historical perspectives and imagined realities, educators can openground to talk about how the symbolism and markers of historical classed and genderedsocial divisions and stereotypes come to be perpetuated and accepted in mass media andpopular culture. Furthermore, I suggest that such exercises in visiting might be easilyreproduced in a classroom setting using curricular texts in the language arts and socialsciences. And so, in addition to media studies classrooms, we might see how alternatepedagogical settings offer a potentially powerful site for rewriting and reinterpretingmedia representations of ideal (deviant) femininity and for breaking open the dichotomies209which seem to manifest in discussions of contemporary femininities (see Gonick, 2006on the dichotomous framing of female youth subjectivities).I now draw upon an example from my interview data to show how researchersand schools might work together to create spaces of informed critique of dominant mediaand to engage adults and young people in creating media which challenges the structuresand 'relations of domination' (Bourdieu, 2001). I begin with an excerpt from theinterviews and then move on to extend and discuss its relevance to developing potentialstrategies for inserting (Arendt, 1958/1998) alternate notions of femininity into publicspace.In this interview excerpt one young woman addresses the way dominant mediarepresentations of her neighbourhood pathologize its spaces and its inhabitants. Shedraws upon discussions and exercises which occurred during Dr. Dillabough'sethnographic research in her school (2004-2006; see description of research in chapterthree under data collection) and suggests ways to create counter narratives (Stack &Kelly, 2006) of her (mis)represented space.Anne: [...] I don't think that people actually go into the east side and get to knowthe people on the east side and stuff And that's something I wanted to do,actually, a project. I wanted to do a photo project of the east side.Anne: Of places on the east side. Because like there's this place down inChinatown called [name of place] gardens and it's so gorgeous there. They havekoi fish everywhere and frogs and bamboo and everything and it's a really, reallypretty place that you obviously want to see on the west side but it's here on theeast side. It's [a] sort of tranquil, outside place, which is really peaceful.Jennifer: And that's not the perspective that the media...?Anne: No. [...] lately on the news the only thing they talk about is cleaning upthe hobos and the safe injection site and so on and so forth, right? (age 16)210First, I want to suggest that Anne's desire to create a photo project of herneighbourhood which would counter its public reputation for "danger" and "moraldepravity" might be read as an act of generative (Bourdieu. 1997/2000; McNay. 2000) orrelational agency (Kennelly. 2008a). Building on theories of "agency" drawn from thework of Bourdieu. McNay and Lovell, Kennelly (2008a) posits a theory of relationalagency which accounts for the genesis original act" (2008b, forthcoming) andlocates such acts within a "web of relationships" (Arendt, 1958/1998 in Kennelly,2008b). As mentioned above, Anne was part of the larger ethnographic study in whichDr. Dillabough engaged all of the young people in creating photo narratives of their livesand their neighbourhood. The photo narrative project came toward the end of theresearch period spent in the classroom and, importantly, after the young people had spenta significant amount of time looking at how homelessness and other visible signs ofeconomic disadvantage are represented in the popular media. It is also important to notethat Anne participated in more than one interview and that this passage is taken from herfinal interview. In other words, I seek here to recognize that a shift in social and culturalexperiences (her participation in the research, her extended discussions with researchersand her introduction to the concept of photo narratives) helped to give Anne access to thepolitical language (which Taft (2004) and others have argued is erased through neo-liberal narratives of individualization) necessary to critique dominant representations ofher space. 116I call attention to this interview excerpt to suggest that it offers a practical strategyfor "counter public" media engagement (see Downey & Fenton, 2003) which also116 Such a reading does not mean that I position Anne as an agent who is able to remove herself from theconstraints of her social world. Nor does it mean that such a photo project would itself be free of deeplyembedded "relations of domination" (e.g., 'cleaning up the hobos') (see Bourdieu, 2001).211recognizes the contingent and relational (Kennelly, 2008a) nature of agency. We see away for young people to engage in more political challenges of media representations ofthe world and their place in the world. And. I suggest. we can extend this example tounderstand how media representations of ideal (deviant) femininity, which I have arguedcontribute to what Arendt calls our "growing world alienation" (Arendt,1954/2006, p. 89-90), might be challenged and publicly countered. Thus, we might see a way through ourcommonplace acceptance (Bourdieu, 1998, 2001) of sexualized, fetishized, pathologized(and ultimately superfluous) femininities to begin to recover a "sense of the real" (Curtis,1999).I suggest that from these two examples of possible critical and political forms ofengagement with media we might begin to conceive of ways in which inherited andhabitually known meanings (Bourdieu, 2001) of gender, class and the conditions ofeconomic disadvantage might be destabilized, exposed and thus judged and examined innew ways. Such an approach to media engagement and critique does not seek adefinitive "truth" about the nature and effects of media representations of ideal (deviant)femininity but rather a plurality of politicized perspectives (Arendt, 1958/1998) whichmight engage in "a labour of symbolic destruction and construction aimed at imposingnew categories of perception and appreciation" (Bourdieu, 2001, p. 123).Concluding remarksContemporary representations of girlhood...operate to marginalize or render invisiblemany other possible ways of being a girl...girlhood itself is constituted as ambiguous in away that renders certain 'girl' subject positions as unsupportable, incomprehensible, orincompatible with 'normal' girlhood. (Griffin, 2004, p. 42)212For authentic politics to be possible, ordinary people must be able to make senseof their situation and give their sensible opinions" (Kateb. 2000. p. 133). As Griffin(2004) points out, contemporary media constructions of empowered and idealizedfemininity are deeply contradictory and "operate to render the girl herself as animpossible subject" with little access to politically relevant subjectivities (p. 42). I haveargued that media representations of girlhood are grounded in hyper-sexual subjectivitiesand promote personal efforts at self-improvement and reinvention through consumptionover more political forms of engagement within the state (see Gonick, 2006; Harris,2004a); young women are thus encouraged in private, rather than public, pursuits ofhappiness (see Arendt, 1958/1998). Under such gendered "commonplaces" (Bourdieu.1998) 'making sense' of one's 'situation' in a political sense becomes a difficult task,especially from the social position of economic disadvantage. Therefore, I maintain thatif we fall back on discourses of gendered empowerment as part of our effort to"challenge[] the depoliticizing meanings" (Taft, 2004, p. 77) 117 inherent within suchpopular gendered narratives, we risk reproducing the notion that a focus on the self andon improving self-esteem through media critique will somehow change the structures ofmasculine domination (Bourdieu, 2001) which are symbolically embedded within mediadepictions of femininity. The reproduction of the private pursuits of self-improvementand self-esteem (no matterhow seemingly important or empowering) can only "lead anuncertain shadowy kind of existence unless and until they are transformed, deprivatizedand deindividualized, as it were, into a shape to fit them for public appearance" (Arendt,117 Though Taft (2004) is clear in stressing the need for feminists to exercise 'caution' when engaging inthe language of particular gendered discourses (girl power) she also notes that in "challenging [its]depoliticized meanings" feminists might find avenues for -encourage[ing] girls as agents of social change"(P. 77 ).2131958/1998, p. 50). Therefore. I would argue that we must find ways to constructinclusive female subjectivities and to unblock structural and ideological  avenues ofyoung women's political participation which might then open space for economicallydisadvantaged young women to "disclose and "distinguish" themselves in the publicspaces of the world (see Arendt. 1958/1998 on plurality and "the disclosure of the agent",pp. 175-184).214REFERENCESAdkins. L. (2003). Reflexivity: Freedom or Habit of Gender? Theory. Culture andSociety, 20, 21-42.Adkins. L., & Skeggs, B. (Eds.). (2005). Feminism After Bourdiezi. Oxford: BlackwellPublishing.Arendt, H. (1951). The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York. London. Toronto:Penguin.Arendt, H. (1954/2006). Between Past and Future. New York: Penguin Books.Arendt, H. (1958/1998). The Human Condition. Chicago, London: University of ChicagoPress.Arendt, H. (1963). Eichmann In Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. USA:Viking Press.Arendt, H. (Ed.). (1968). 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The Hague: Nijhoff Publishers.Retrieved September 2006 from Swan, (2003/2004). Official web site. FOX. .Special CollectionsThe Hannah Arendt Papers Library of Congress Speeches and Writings file, 1923-1977.225APPENDIX AThe following is a copy of the interview protocol titled. "Interview Topics For CaseStudy Sites: Youth (14-18)" from Dr. Dillabough's original study. Additions to theoriginal interview protocol are in bold type.I. Basic Information/Background• basic background information• educational history3. Young Peoples' Experiences of Exclusion (educational/social exclusion)• problems and forms of exclusion encountered over time in schools and educational settings(examples)• social conditions and issues of exclusion beyond schooling issues related to gender, race and class and urban life questions about media, popular culture and students' understandings of themselvesand their future (fashion, music, technology, television, film) perceptions on femininity and race and class and their links to cultural/nationalidentity and inclusion in schools*• impact poverty and their current social provision have on young people's experiences ofschool/social exclusion.4. Youth and Education/Educational Programs• school/social conditions/spaces in which they live and perspectives they believeteachers/youth workers maintain about impoverished youth with a particular reference to theirown circumstancesAn additional change involves the use of print media materials drawn from magazinesmarketed to youth ages 13-18, which will be used as visual elicitation material to expanddiscussions on "femininity" in the interview. Media material will be chosen for itsrepresentation of trends (eg., fashion, career/vocation, life goals) relating to images of"ideal" and "deviant" femininity. During the course of the larger interview, youth will beasked to respond (i.e., perceptions, concerns, relationship to own experiences of media) tothese print materials. All materials chosen will be age appropriate (e.g. "Seventeenmagazine", "Vancouver Sun", "Teen People", "Macleans") and will not portray nudity,violence, alcohol or drug use.*Sample questions that extend outward from these additional thematic strands are:1. What is your definition/description of a "normal" (or "perfect/ideal") girl? Of an"abnormal" (or "imperfect/deviant") girl? Take a moment to think about whereyour definition/description comes from. In other words, how does yourdefinition/description compare to media images, ideas you hear in school/out ofschool etc.?2. How do your definitions/descriptions compare to the following images (see attachedprint images)?2263. What do you think about the idea of femininity that is being represented in thefollowing images (see attached print images)?227APPENDIX BThe University of British ColumbiaOffice of Research Services and AdministrationBehavioural Research Ethics BoardCertificate of ApprovalPRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORDillabough, J.DFFANTIAEN FEducational StudiesNUMBERB03-0511INST, I TUTION(,) WHERE RESEARCH WILL. BE. CARRIED OJTCO-INVESTIGATORS .Muir, Jennifer, Educational StudiesSPONSORING AGENCIESSocial Sciences & Humanities Research CouncilTITLE :Social Change and the Study of Economically Disadvantaged Youth in Canadian schoolsAPPROVAL DATE03-12-19yr,frn.iday,TERM (YEARS)1AMENDMENTOct. 25, 2005, Contact letter / May 14,2005, Co-Investigators / InterviewsAMENDMENT APPROVED -3 I 20wCERTIFICATION .The protocol describing the above-named project has been reviewed by theCommittee and the experimental procedures were found to be acceptable on ethicalgrounds for research involving human subjects.Approval of the Behavioural Research Ethics Board by one of the following:Dr. Peter Suedfeld, Chair,Dr. Susan Rowley, Associate ChairThis Certificate of Approval is valid for the above term provided there is no change inthe experimental proceduresUBC228APPENDIX COne young woman linked two forms of media entertainment, popular amongst her what she observed as her experiences with some of her young male peers "lack ofrespect" for women. The sample which follows began as part of a discussion in whichAnne expressed her experience with more privileged male peers who seem to her to be"less respectful" to women than do the young men in her east side neighbourhood:Int.: So where are west side guys then getting their vision of what a woman is?Anne: Obviously from the media. I mean, where else are you supposed to get it?I mean, Grand Theft Auto, like video-games? They have hookers on the streetcorners to go pick up. They're in the game. [...] And it's like. that and likewatching, you know, even music. Like in a lot of rap music they have like I'mgoing to fuck that bitch and shit. You know what I mean? It's just like, they haveno respect for women anymore. And it's like there are artists out there who dohave respect for women and they listen to those too but they don't hear it as muchas they would with the rap songs or whatever.[•• .]But I think that the west side guys take it more literally than the east side guys do.Int.: I wonder why?Anne: I don't know. I think it just has to do with, ah, everybody's like...becauseif you're on the east side you don't actually see all this stuff happening. So whenthey talk about it in the rap songs you're kind of just like, well that's not true.You know what I mean? Like... [laughs] you can't get a girl that easy.[•••]Well they [the media] portray it [downtown eastside] not as it is. Urn, I'm afraidwhen I go to suburbia. [...] none of my close friends has been hurt on the eastside. None of them, nobody, not like even that much has happened on the eastside because everybody is too cracked up to know what's going on...I find thatI've never seen like any knifing or fights or anything on [street] but yet if I go tothe suburbs I will see that.Int.: you see aggression?Anne: I see aggression because they're the ones trying to live up to Eminem(popular rapper), who's the white kid who grew up in the suburbs and now carriesa gun everywhere. And like, suburb people are scared of the east side becausethey think like it's what's the rappers talk about. There's like guns and violenceand everything,. I mean, you will find that in some cases around the east side butlike, I in my life have never been around that and I've had friends who've likebeen in gangs and stuff like that. But I've never actually seen them shoot becausethey always go to a suburb, to the suburbs, with their gangs. They don't hangaround the east side because that's just stupid.Int.: Right.Anne: Because they might run into their mother. [laughs]Grand Theft Auto is a popular video game which simulates auto theft, high-speed policechases and allows players to perpetrate massive amounts of property damage all withinthe 'safe' spaces of virtual reality. Though assuredly fodder for interesting theoretical229discussions this particular medium would be irrelevant to my investigation were it not forthe fact that it also allows 'players' to rob. molest, attack and/or kill prostitutes as aroutine part of the virtual 'fun'. Simply put, the brutal forms of violence that might beperpetrated on a woman are rendered entertainment. The similarly misogynisticproperties of much of popular rap music are widely commented upon' IS . Eminem, therapper to whom Anne refers. gained notoriety (and an equivalent popularity within youthculture and sub-culture) for songs which, as part of a general anti-authority theme,narrated the maiming, raping and killing of his real life female partner and mother of hisyoung daughter' I `) . Such harsh, brutally sexual lyrics actively subordinate the feminine tothe masculine 'ideal' of virility in all its forms (physical/sexual/financial power).Moreover, such subjugation occurs in direct relation to the depiction of a tough, street-wise and exaggeratedly virile masculine figure.Thus popular forms of entertainment which glorify the subjugation of thefeminine are marketed specifically to a young male audience. What is more, both thisvideo game and rap music generally are positioned within virtual and symbolic spaces ofsocial and economic disadvantage. Indeed, symbolic narratives of hyper-masculinity aretied to identities of social and/or economic disadvantage (see Weekes. 2004; Willis,1 977). Yet media both glorifies and personalizes such contingent and essentially mutableties. Moreover, such media reinforces deeply ingrained class-based 'myths' which markdisadvantaged women as morally deficient in comparison to middle class "respectable"femininity (see Skeggs, 2001). And so we note Anne's observation that, "...west sideguys take it more literally than the east side guys do" from the perspective that the livedexperience of 'east side guys' exposes the hyperbolic, often misogynistic glorification of`street life' inherent to rap music and violent video games. In other words, theexperience of being an 'east side guy' (or girl) allows for the phenomenologicallygrounded knowledge (or instinct) that 'you can't get a girl that easy'. Yet still, we seethat this young woman eventually returns to an understanding which seems grounded inmale/female relations:[...] maybe at one point they [east side male peers] tried to have that like norespect for women thing and it really didn't work for them [laughs]."18 Weekes (2004)observes that,Hip-hop or rap, like raga music, gives primacy to Black masculinized discourse and speaks to alargely masculine audience [...] However, rap is a broad genre, and West Coast gangsta rapembraces discourses of sex and sexuality which have been criticized for their misogyny. (p. 144)Noting that, "[t]he academic response to this imagery has been diverse" Weekes goes on to cite, amongothers, the work of West (1992), Ransby and Matthews (1993), Williams (1992), Back (1996) for theircontributions to the exploration of misogyny in rap music.119 Even the less explicitly sexual/violent lyrics reproduce obvious forms of symbolic/masculinedomination. Note a sample of the significantly less explicit lyrics to a popular rap song which enjoyedmainstream radio-play in 2003. The song describes the loyalty and respect the artist has for his (real life)partner:All 1 need in this life of sin is me and my girlfriend/The problem is, you dudes treat the one thatyou lovin'/Wit the same respect that you treat the one that you humpin'/[...] I don't be at placeswhere we comfy at/With no be-atch; oh no you won't see that/And no I ain't perfect[...]/Butgirlfriend, work wit the kid/I keep you workin' that Hermes Birkin bag[...] (Jay-Z, Bonnie andClyde)230


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