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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Negotiating femininity : an expoloratory study of young women’s everyday experiences Carter, Claire L.

Abstract

This thesis explores how young women negotiate femininity in their everyday lives. My research is based upon a theoretical analysis of current literature on femininity, and is informed by a group interview. The main areas of emphasis within the literature focus on the problematic of how women 'do' and explore the potential agency that women enact in the construction of their identities. My analysis of these ideas gave rise to three themes that depict the different, but often overlapping, theoretical positions on femininity. Firstly, that women are disciplined to be feminine, secondly, that women enact agency in the development of their identities, and thirdly, women negotiate their ever-changing identities in relation to social as well as individual pressures and circumstances. Through exploring and critiquing these themes I suggest that negotiation, as an approach, enables femininity to be theorized as a cultural discourse that shapes and disciplines women, as well as a conscious, negotiated embodiment. Furthermore, the findings from the group interview demonstrate the importance of bringing women's lived experience into the centre of analyses of identity and agency, by providing insight into how femininity is negotiated.

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