Let’s hear it for the girls! Representations of girlhood, feminism and activism in comics and graphic novels

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Abstract

Notions of agency and activism loom large of late in feminist debates; however, the relevance of such concepts to young women and girls in particular is often recuperated via the language of postfeminism, a manoeuvre which is pernicious in its deflation of a radical feminist politics. For this reason, I contend that the comics Sally Heathcote: Suffragette by Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot (2014), Lumberjanes (2015-date) by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen, Noelle Stevenson and others, and Ms Marvel (2014-date) where the creative team is also flexible (but is predominantly led by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, with Sana Amanat as editor) collectively represent a vital intervention in terms of young feminist politics. In short: these three titles foreground agentic, activist and feminist perspectives which are aimed at specifically a young female audience. In what follows, through close reading, I will outline why this is important: for as Berry Mayall states regarding childhood, agency is the way that children are now seen as people who can make a difference through their individual actions, ‘to a relationship, a decision, to the workings of a set of social assumptions or constraints’. (Mayall 2002: 21)
Original languageEnglish
JournalMAI: A Journal of Feminism and Visual Culture
Volume1
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

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