Tomboys and girly-girls: embodied femininities in primary schools

Paechter, Carrie F.. 2010. Tomboys and girly-girls: embodied femininities in primary schools. Discourse, 31(2), pp. 221-235. ISSN 0159-6306 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper is about how nine to eleven year old children, particularly girls, co-construct tomboy and girly-girl identities as oppositional positions. The paper sits within a theoretical framework in which I understand individual and collective masculinities and femininities as ways of ‘doing man/woman’ or ‘doing boy/girl’ that are constructed within local communities of masculinity and femininity practice. Empirical data come from a one-year study of tomboy identities within two London primary schools. The paper explores the contrasting identities of tomboy and girly-girl, how they are constructed by the children, and how this changes as they approach puberty. The findings suggest that the oppositional construction of these identities makes it harder for girls to take up more flexible femininities, though it is possible to switch between tomboy and girly-girl identities at different times and places.

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Educational Studies


May 2010Published


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Date Deposited:

23 Sep 2010 12:35

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:49

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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