"Girls Today Are More Evolved": Sexual Agency in the Ressignification of Gender Discourses

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Übungsraum 4A KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Jamile GUIMARAES, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
Cristiane CABRAL, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
Neia SCHOR, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
This study analyzes the speeches employed in gender identity negotiations. An ethnographic study was carried out at a public school with 11-15 year-old girls, using the following methodological tools: participant observation, informal conversations, and group and individual interviews with students of both genders. The focus within this frame is on the group of girls self-titled "evolved". Their belief stems from the perception of power acquired by their maternal generation, which the former exercise. In a less oppressive social order, which promotes freedom and diversity in personality, the empowering speech synthesized in the "if I want it, I do it" boosts the competence and potential of girls seeking to assert their gender. The stigmatizing effect of breaking the "proper" femininity leads them to manage self-presentations that navigate the contradictions in contemporary speeches: they pose as "quiet and bold", but maintain apparent candor and passivity while experiencing control over their own desires. Sexual agency is justified by the symbolic re-appropriation of limitations currently in force: the objectification of boys through the fetishization of an active sexuality and the stance of female dominance. These (inter)subjective processes of negotiation reflect the complex relational conflicts and the micropolitics that surround sex, power and disputes within the intense (heterosexualized) social competition of the school environment.