Gender and Generation by Angela McRobbie, Mica Nava

By Angela McRobbie, Mica Nava

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Attributes of femininity/masculinity are generally seen as dichotomised, either/ or conceptions. For instance, Kay Deaux and others report studies revealing male stereotypes as objective, independent, competitive, adventurous, self-confident and ambitious, with the stereotypical female being seen as dependent, passive, subjective, not competi- 38 Femininity and Adolescence tive, not adventurous, not self-confident, not ambitious, and also as tactful, gentle, aware of the feelings of others, and able to express tenderness and emotion easily (Deaux, 1976).

I shall suggest that by understanding femininity and adolescence as discourses, we may begin to uncover some of the traps we constantly set for teenage girls; and we may also throw some light on the difficulties and disappointments experienced by those who seek to work with teenage girls as, for instance, teachers and social workers. As well as showing some of the contradictory standards generated by these discourses, and the consequences of judging girls' behaviour by the terms of one rather than the other, I shall explore femininity and adolescence as discourses with structured sets of relationships between speakers and actors who occupy positions in them.

The Labour Party of the post-war period has been criticised for not recognising the political and agitational possibilities in education. Finn, Grant and Johnson (1977) have argued thq_t the Labour Party's focus on access to secondary schooling and on opportunities was at the cost of attention to the Mica Nava 21 content and form of education. In that it failed to develop a concept of socialist education it 'remained an educational provider for the popular classes, not an educational agency of and within them' (p.

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