Catherine Monnot, Small girls of today. The learning of femininity, Al Mutations, n° 251 Otherwise, 2009
What does it mean to “be a girl” in our western societies contemporary ? How do you learn to become a girl and which girl should it exactly be ? These are the questions that Catherine Monnot in Little girls today. The learning of the feminine seeks to give an answer.
Theme outdated socialization gendered ? Yes and no. Yes, because with her book, Catherine Monnot continues the tradition of several generations of work highlighting the socialization bias. Let us remember, among other things, the pioneering work of Elena Gianini Belotti, little girls, published Editions of Women in 1974, the book is no less fundamental to the more famous tandem sociological French What’s new in girls ? Between stereotypes and freedoms of Christian Baudelot and Roger Establet, published in 2008, which began with ” Thirty-five years after the publication of on the side of The little girls, where are we ? “.
No, because this book seeks to understand how does the membership of sex by ” horizontal transmission “, that is to say, peer-to-peer. This is to highlight the early childhood experiences and collective socialization, ” through the multitude of informal learning that grown-up children outside of the gaze and control, direct adults, in particular, the leisure, and which are often neglected by the researchers. “(p 9) It is through an analysis of the “culture of the everyday, the tiny and the “superfluous “”(p 9), as well as the stated Sherrie A. Iness in 1998 Delinquents and Debutantes : Twentieth Century American Girls ‘ Culture1 “the boxes to try for girls, the magazines marketed to girls, books about horses for girls, babies, books, cooking makeup for girls, ” Catherine Monnot wants to update the process of internalizing provisions of the female. It seeks to understand the way of being together of girls, their socialisation specific, their way of being in the world.
The investigation of the origin of this work is based on observations and interviews carried out since 2002 in the schoolyard with a dozen girls from CM2 between 9 years and 11 years. If the different social backgrounds are considered, the main terrain is that of a primary school in a small seaside town on the South, of popular origin and relatively isolated, in a semi-rural.
The first pan of the life of a little girl of today, the membership of a group of girls, investing activities very different from those which animate the men of the same age. The girls of primary school create clubs, the holding of workbooks of stars, speak of their favorite television series, sing and dance together. New practice, blogs are now a primary medium of exchange and friendship. Decoration of the room, and writing of the self are practices highly sexed, reserved also to the girls. Practices of television and use of the computer also separate from girls and boys. Catherine Monnot studying particularly the relationship of the girls to the music, an area she knows very well, knowing that she is currently completing her doctoral thesis under the direction of Agnès Fine, thesis entitled The girls and the music.
The stars of the song and the dolls available to little girls, the Bratz in replacement of traditional Barbies, bear witness to the evolution of the proposed models for the girls of today. Magazines, gaming websites on the internet provide a visual universe akin to that of magazines for adults. Graphic design eye-catching, colorful, modern, all helping to blur the boundaries between the categories of age and sex and to give very early to the girls the key to the culture and practices of female adolescents and adults. Little girls can penetrate easily, by anticipation, in the adult world. Most of the girls interviewed by the author, inspired the most of the stylistic codes of 13-25 years. New lines of clothing created specifically for the 8-12 year olds, inspired by the style of dress of teenage girls, emerge. The lyrics of the songs listened to by the girls are a testament to the desire of not being a little girl and soon become a teenager, a woman.
Has the age of the CM2, the relationship between the girls and boys are changing in nature. Board games such as Secret Girls, Phone Secret, or My secret agenda which serve as guides for first emotions of love, induce many of the stereotypes of college sexual. The girl remains always confined in the domain of the intimate, the unveiling of the self. Again, it is through the analysis of the field of music, Catherine Monnot stands out in this book. The pop song provides, according to her ” a new sentimental education “. The messages of the songs introduce the girls to love life and ” prepare to face the full range and complexity of this feeling. “(p 112) The songs allow you to discover the male world, and prepare for a new type of relationship with him, the singers embody the ideal male. Finally, the pairs of stars enhanced in the magazine, aimed at young female audience, become sources of inspiration. The analysis of these phenomena led the author to conclude that the flowering female still presented as the (only) result of the encounter of love. “reconciling family and professional life, the contemporary woman’s ideal must always be ready to sacrifice his career for love” (p120) Theme absent from the magazines dedicated to the girls of 8-12 years, the song compensates largely the lack of information about sexuality. The girls turn to the singers in the “plastic idealized and erotic demonstrative” (p 126) according to an identification, commonly known as the ” phenomenon Lolita “.
In total, it appears that “the universe of the media and mass consumption, continues to teach a women’s “adornment” and “accreditation” (p 158). The organization is symbolic of the relationship between the sexes is renewed in its terms, but remains stereotyped. Control of the appearance, attention to early seduction and feminization of the body betray the incorporation of specific models to girls at a young age.