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BeTwixt and BeTween: Gender Contradictions in Middle School
Unformatted Document Text:  Seale and Risman surveillance and disciplining the body (Adams et al. 2005), the sexual objectification of girls (Adler and Adler 1998; Chambers et al. 2004) and even gossiping (Eder et al. 1995). The enforcement of gender expectations in interaction differs for girls and boys. Studies of male peer culture reveal the centrality of homophobia, in status-differentiating practices, whereas girl-focused studies do not find this. For boys, the pressure to do masculinity is strictly regulated and often policed through the deployment of heterosexism. It is not entirely clear, however, whether femininity is less regulated than masculinity among youth, or whether it is differently regulated. Furthermore, there is reason to expect that peer regulation and the ability to draw upon different resources in status-building and identity-creation vary by age. We review the literature by examining the research on boys’ and girls’ lives. Girlhood Literature addressing recent changes in “ideal girlhood” or “normative femininity” often focuses on girls’ participation in athletics. Some researchers suggest that girls incur a “femininity deficit” by participation in sport (Allison 1991; Broad 2001; Cockburn and Clarke 2002; Krane et al. 2004). Others find athleticism is no longer believed to be incompatible with femininity, and may indeed be part of the “ideal girlhood” package (Malcom 2003; Adams, Schmitke, and Franklin 2005; Enke 2005). In their study of high school sports, Adams et al. (2005) discuss how normative girlhood has changed since Title IX. Femininity is no longer signified by passivity, but rather includes characteristics previously labeled masculine, such as self-control and athleticism. Adams et al. find that girls enjoy athleticism and take pride in being tough and competitive. Nonetheless, concern with heterosexual appeal and feminine appearance is fostered by peers, the media, and significant adults (including coaches and coaches’ wives), who often encourage the girls to don some signifiers of appropriate traditional femininity. This leads to a feminization of girls’ sports, from the design of uniforms to girls wearing ribbons in their hair and make- up even during competitions. But such feminization of sports is contested, as many of the girls criticized feminization practices as trivializing women athletes. Yet, girls who expressed contempt for the 5

Authors: Seale, Elizabeth. and Risman, Barbara.
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Seale and Risman
surveillance and disciplining the body (Adams et al. 2005), the sexual objectification of girls (Adler and 
Adler 1998; Chambers et al. 2004) and even gossiping (Eder et al. 1995).  The enforcement of gender 
expectations in interaction differs for girls and boys.  Studies of male peer culture reveal the centrality of 
homophobia, in status-differentiating practices, whereas girl-focused studies do not find this.  For boys, 
the pressure to do masculinity is strictly regulated and often policed through the deployment of 
heterosexism.  It is not entirely clear, however, whether femininity is less regulated than masculinity 
among youth, or whether it is differently regulated. Furthermore, there is reason to expect that peer 
regulation and the ability to draw upon different resources in status-building and identity-creation vary by 
age.    We review the literature by examining the research on boys’ and girls’ lives. 
Literature addressing recent changes in “ideal girlhood” or “normative femininity” often focuses 
on girls’ participation in athletics.  Some researchers suggest that girls incur a  “femininity deficit” by 
participation in sport (Allison 1991; Broad 2001; Cockburn and Clarke 2002; Krane et al. 2004).  Others 
find athleticism is no longer believed to be incompatible with femininity, and may indeed be part of the 
“ideal girlhood” package (Malcom 2003; Adams, Schmitke, and Franklin 2005; Enke 2005).  In their 
study of high school sports, Adams et al. (2005) discuss how normative girlhood has changed since Title 
IX.  Femininity is no longer signified by passivity, but rather includes characteristics previously labeled 
masculine, such as self-control and athleticism.   Adams et al. find that girls enjoy athleticism and take 
pride in being tough and competitive.  Nonetheless, concern with heterosexual appeal and feminine 
appearance is fostered by peers, the media, and significant adults (including coaches and coaches’ wives), 
who often encourage the girls to don some signifiers of appropriate traditional femininity.  This leads to a 
feminization of girls’ sports, from the design of uniforms to girls wearing ribbons in their hair and make-
up even during competitions.  But such feminization of sports is contested, as many of the girls criticized 
feminization practices as trivializing women athletes.  Yet, girls who expressed contempt for the 

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