• Girlie Girls Aren’t “Real” Athletes: A Critical Examination of Girls’ Experiences of Aesthetic Sports within a Post-Feminist Masquerade

      Kovac, Laura; Social Justice and Equity Studies Program
      The purpose of this feminist research was to understand the experiences of adolescent females currently participating in aesthetic sports. Specifically, I aimed to critically examine the ways in which the new feminine ideal and a post-feminist girl culture shape girls’ experiences. A social constructionist grounded theory approach was used and a purposive sample of eight girls, between the ages of 12-15, participated in this study. Three major themes that best reflect my interpretation of the experiences of the participants emerged: 1) Masculinities and revealing a higher social status in the school environment, 2) Framing success through gendered and neoliberal discourses, and 3) Constructing an ideal image. Moreover, the major themes resulted in the culmination of experiences leading to the core theme “Falling short of the neoliberal ideal.” The study highlights the need for educators and sport practitioners to advocate for a diversity of gender expression.
    • "They're trying to trick us!": Making sense of anti-oppressive children's literature in the elementary school classroom

      Paterson, Kate; Social Justice and Equity Studies Program
      This study examines how children make sense of “anti-oppressive” children’s literature in the classroom, specifically, books that integrate and promote positive portrayals of gender non-conformity and sexual diversity. Through a feminist poststructural lens, I conducted ethnographic observations and reading groups with twenty students in a grade one/two classroom to explore how children engage with these storybooks. I further explored how the use of these books in the classroom might help to mediate and negotiate existing gendered and heteronormative beliefs and practices within educational settings. The books used in this study challenge oppressive gender and sexuality regimes within mainstream children’s literature that have traditionally served to marginalize and silence gender non-conforming and LGBTQ individuals. Responses from participants in this study aid in questioning how dominant discourses of gender and sexuality are produced and reinforced, as well as where we may find opportunities for change and reform within the elementary school classroom.