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Fostering the responsible citizen : citizenship and sexuality in the Girl Guides of Canada, 1979-1999 Faingold, Elizabeth

Abstract

The Girl Guides of Canada is a youth service organization, serving almost 10% of the Canadian female population aged 5-17, that aims to teach girls and young women to become responsible citizens. In this thesis, I review the curriculum of the Pathfinder branch (for girls and young women aged 12-15) of the Girl Guides of Canada. Using feminist, anti-racist, and queer perspectives, I treat "responsible citizenship" as a discursive concept and conduct a discourse analysis of the Pathfinder programme to discover how it attempts to gain the consent of girls and young women to particular definitions of responsible citizenship. Drawing on feminist citizenship theory developed by Yuval-Davis, Anthias, Alexander, and Ross, I argue that the state implicates select female citizens in nation building practices as biological reproducers and transmitters of culture. I also draw on theories of moral regulation extended by Sangster, Strange, and Loo to illustrate ways in which the state and voluntary organizations attempt to gain the consent of citizens to particular ways of being. I argue that, because its texts authorize particular definitions of responsible citizenship, the Pathfinder curriculum implicates girls and young women in capitalist nation building in Canada. Specifically, I argue that the Pathfinder programme normalizes heterosexuality, whiteness, and ability, and privileges middle-class values. I also demonstrate that a responsible citizen, according to the Pathfinder curriculum, performs caregiving and environmental stewardship as volunteer service, prepares to join the labour force, and is healthy, hygienic, cheerful and obedient. I raise questions about the nature of the organization's efforts to teach about sexism, racism, classism, ableism, homophobia and heterosexism, and suggest some ways in which the curriculum can attend to these social relations to develop a more inclusive image of the ideal responsible citizen. I also suggest a number of directions for future research.

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