Space to think: engaging adolescent girls in critical identity exploration.




Woolgar, Sarah

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Canadian females grow up in a sociocultural environment full of contradictory discourses that rarely reflect the social reality they experience. Adolescent girls face abject forms of objectification, sexualization, unequal power relations and high levels of violence in their communities, yet these experiences remain largely unexamined with adolescent girls themselves. In the following thesis I describe a research project I undertook with seven girls between the ages of twelve and fifteen. Using the method biomythography, I ask the girls to tell me who they are in an attempt to determine how these girls relate their social environment to their identity. An analysis of the discourses emerging in the biomythographies as well as in discussion in the research space demonstrates that the girls recognize links with sociocultural environment, yet they do not highlight the effects of this culture on their identity in their biomythographies. Instead, they used the space of the biomythographies to resist, dream, and focus on the best aspects of themselves and those in their social world. At the same time, the physical creation space became an important secondary site of analysis. The analysis of both the biomythographies and the project space demonstrates the importance of girl-only space in the community. Such space allows girls to come together as girls to critique and analyse what it means to grow up female in Canadian society. This space must also provide opportunities for girls to self-reflect on their own social position and identity.



adolescent girls, identity, biomythography, social culture, feminism, girls' studies