Book Critique of Girl Wide Web


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Book Critique of Girl Wide Web

  1. 1. GIRL WIDE WEB: GIRLS, THE INTERNET, AND THE NEGOTIATION OF IDENTITY Edited by Sharon R. Mazzarella An online book review by Lilian Trousdell LIBE 508: Theory and Research in Teacher-Librarianship
  2. 2. THE BACKGROUND STORY <ul><li>Once upon a time, teen girls were seen as naive and culturally unaware creatures who shied away from technology and blindly submitted to the gender stereotypes upon which they were imposed. Trapped in their homes and under the watchful and scrutinizing eyes of adults and male peers, many adolescent girls were frustrated that they could not safely voice their opinions and develop their identities. Then one day, the Internet became accessible in their homes, and the girls were exposed to a whole new world. Within this wonderful new landscape, girls found what they’ve been searching for – a safe space in which they can talk openly about issues such as sexuality, communicate instantly with others, and create their own content that they can share with the world. Within a few years of its invention, the Internet became the primary source of entertainment and social networking for adolescents around the world. But how has the use of the Internet influenced the formation of their identities? Is the WWW really a safe space free from adults and male peers? Have teen girls transcended from the pre-Internet stage of isolation and inhibition, or do they remain traditional in their views of themselves and of the world? </li></ul>
  3. 3. THE CONTENT <ul><li>Girl Wide Web: Girls, the Internet, and the Negotiation of Identity is a collection of research exploring the relationship between the Internet and teen girls’ identity development. The 11 chapters are broken into three main sections: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An analyses of Web sites for girls </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An examination of girl-created content and fandom </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The use of computer-mediated communication between girls </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. SECTION 1: AN ANALYSIS OF WEB SITES FOR GIRLS <ul><li>,, and Blue Jean Online </li></ul>
  5. 5. CHAPTER 2 : WHAT ARE GURLS TALKING ABOUT? <ul><li>Synopsis </li></ul><ul><li>In this chapter, the researchers explore the issue of adolescent girls’ sexual identity through an in-depth look at the discourses around sex taking place on, the largest and most popular Web site aimed at teen girls. </li></ul><ul><li>Some of the most common topics that are raised in the bulletin board include: </li></ul><ul><li>Being single </li></ul><ul><li>Body image </li></ul><ul><li>Emotions </li></ul><ul><li>Friends & Family </li></ul><ul><li>Life </li></ul><ul><li>School </li></ul><ul><li>Teen Pregnancy </li></ul><ul><li>When Girls Like Girls </li></ul><ul><li>Your Body </li></ul><ul><li>What Do You Think? </li></ul>
  6. 6. A SAFE SPACE? <ul><li>YES! </li></ul><ul><li>Discourse on fill an information gap, providing girls with little or no knowledge of sexual topics a place to cask questions and gain knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Although most girls were concerned with male pleasure rather than their own, there are some girls who honour their own desire for sexual pleasure and are curious for advice. </li></ul><ul><li>Questions raised about sexual orientation and identities are responded with tolerant and encouraging messages. </li></ul>
  7. 7. CHAPTER 3: MAKING AN ABOUT-FACE <ul><li>Jammer Girls and the World Wide Web </li></ul><ul><li>This chapter explores Web sites that provide a space for “jammer girls”, teens who refuse to conform according to potentially harmful media messages . </li></ul><ul><li> involves a 4-step process of awareness, reflection, analysis, and action through which teens learn to decipher the deeper meanings of media messages. To be media literate means that teens can critically consume and create media </li></ul><ul><li>Based on the anecdotal comments posted by girls visiting the site, the content of their essays, and the messages of their “jams”, the researcher claims that has made a positive impact on girls. </li></ul><ul><li>The researcher addresses the weakness of the study – that the analyses of girl culture primarily focus on white, heterosexual, middle-class girls, rather than a more culturally and socioeconomically inclusive group. </li></ul>
  8. 8. CHAPTER 4 - GENDER, POWER, AND SOCIAL INTERACTION: HOW BLUE JEAN ONLINE CONSTRUCTS ADOLESCENT GIRLHOOD <ul><li>The study consists of a qualitative interpretative analysis of the Web site over a 12 month period </li></ul><ul><li>Goal: to identify an overarching themes that appeared to challenge the dominant discourse relating to gender roles and to determine the extent to which and how feminist perspectives were being presented </li></ul><ul><li>Findings about Blue Jeans Online: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>girls and young women presented as autonomous and subjective beings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>shifts its focus away from self-improvement, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>takes risks by tackling global “weighty issues” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>explored “the intersections between gender, power, and socials interactions, making feminism visible and accessible to girls” (80) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>offers girls “rhetorical spaces where dominant meanings relating to gender roles in societies can be negotiated, resisted, or rejected outright” (80). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>calls on girls to act, and provide them access to outside resources and materials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>not an ideal magazine for girls, as signs of commercialization do appear, and there is a need for a wider range of racially and ethnically diverse viewpoints </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>is a viable feminist alternative to traditional girls’ magazines </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. CRITIQUE OF SECTION 1 <ul><li>Yes, there are sites where girls are participating in safe spaces and talk openly </li></ul><ul><li>However, studies assume that the content has been posted by girl users or that interactions take place within an environment free from males </li></ul><ul><li>Although there is evidence of aggressive behaviour, flaming, policing, gossip, and signs of stereotypical norms about gender, authors are overly optimistic and idealize the site as safe spaces for girls </li></ul>
  10. 10. SECTION 2 <ul><li>An examination of girl-created content </li></ul><ul><li>and fandom </li></ul>
  11. 11. WHAT ABOUT FANDOM? <ul><li>Chapter 6: You’re 16, You’re Dutiful, You’re Online </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explores how teen girl fans of television show negotiate subjectivity and identity in Usenet groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Finding: teen girl cyberfans negotiate their identities by proclaiming, nurturing, qualifying, and repudiating allegiances to television texts, actors, characters, stories, and creators </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Chapter 7:What if the Lead Character Looks Like Me? Girl fans of Shoujo Anime and Their Web Sites </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Study found that girls are actively participating in online anime fan culture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Girl fans do not necessarily identify with the female lead characters of shoujo anime, but rather put themselves into the relationships she experiences </li></ul></ul>Creative commons – “Anime Drawing” by serena
  12. 12. SECTION 3 <ul><li>The use of computer-mediated communication between girls </li></ul>
  13. 13. CHAPTER 9 TEEN CROSSINGS: EMERGING CYBERPUBLICS IN INDIA <ul><li>Question: What function does the Internet serve for teenage Indian girls? </li></ul><ul><li>Study involved interviewing upper middle class and upper class girls from four Indian private schools. </li></ul><ul><li>She found that email and Web surfing comprised 99% of total online activity, and 64% of girls had used a chat room one time or another. </li></ul><ul><li>Compared to their Western counterparts, Indian teen girls view the Internet as a small part of their leisure activity. They seem more weary of the consumerist ideologies on American Television and advertisement, and are critical of the potential harmful effects of surfing the net and using chat rooms, like encountering porn and cyber sex. </li></ul>Creative commons image – “Computer Lab” by Listen Up
  14. 14. CHAPTER 10 “IM ME” IDENTITY CONSTRUCTION AND GENDER NEGOTIATION IN THE WORLD OF ADOLESCENT GIRLS AND INSTANT MESSAGING <ul><li>Thiel interviewed 12 girls from different races and backgrounds and conducted a narrative analysis of the conversations that they have with different people </li></ul><ul><li>IM users felt that IM is a free, unsupervised space, that IM confers elevated social status, that IM is a space for experiment with notions of sexuality, that IM can be used as a diary, or as an avenue of exclusion. IM is an extremely important form of socialization, yet girls express much more profanity, aggression, and meanness than they would in face to face contact </li></ul><ul><li>Thiel found that “IM provides a landscape for a girl to shift from identity to identity, and from moment to moment. It is an opportunity for a girl to better understand who she is and play with who she wants to be in the future” (197) </li></ul>Creative commons – “Alana on Computer” by singleframe