Incorrigible : resisting heteropatriarchy, the purity of girls, and the epitome of ‘woman’

Crook, Amber (2021-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stelenbosch University, 2021.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: A study of girlhood in conjunction with the mother-daughter relationship offers a unique lens through which to analyse what it means to be a girl child in certain modern societies, and how a girl child’s becoming is regulated by various heteropatriarchal structures and institutions, including the institution of motherhood. There is necessity in acknowledging the way in which girls are socially conditioned and primed to become women, and that they are essentially entangled with their maternal figures, but likewise that they have agency to choose for and position themselves. Moreover, there is increased urgency to recognise the racial, class and individual differences amongst girls and women in order to challenge ‘ideal’ femininity as a totalising group discourse that seeks to subordinate and control these bodily experiences. Through examining three literary texts – Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides, Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, and Sandra Charles’s Eve – this dissertation ultimately concludes that despite the conditioning of girls and women to maintain motherhood as the archetype of femininity by way of the socially and discursively constructed category ‘woman’, there are various ways of being both a ‘woman’ and a mother. Thus, the agency and diversity of girls and women is made palpable in their ability to ‘take up’ and fulfil multiple subject positons, or put differently, to both survive and resist heteropatriarchy and its ideals.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING:‘n Studie van meisie-wees tesame met die moeder-dogterverhouding, bied ‘n unieke lens waardeur geanaliseer kan word wat dit beteken om ‘n dogter-kind in sekere moderne gemeenskappe te wees, en hoe ‘n dogter-kind se menswees gereguleer word deur verskeie heteropatriargale strukture en instellings, insluitende die instelling van moederskap. Daar is noodsaaklikheid in die erkenning van die manier waarop meisies sosiaal gekondisioneer en voorberei word om vrou te word, en dat hulle essensieel verstrengel is met hul moeder-figure, maar enersyds dat hulle agentskap het om vir hulself te kies en hulself te posisioneer. Origens is daar ‘n toenemende dringendheid om die rasse-, klas- en individuele verskille onder meisies en vroue te herken, ten einde ‘ideale’ vroulikheid as ‘n totaliserende groepsdiskoers wat daarna vra om hierdie liggaamlike ervarings ondergeskik te maak en te beheer, uit te daag. Deur die ondersoek van drie literêre tekste – Jeffrey Eugenides se The Virgin Suicides, Gillian Flynn se Sharp Objects en Sandra Charles se Eve – bereik hierdie verhandeling die uiteindelike slotsom dat, ten spyte van die kondisionering van meisies en vroue om moederskap as die argetipe van vroulikheid by wyse van die sosiale en diskursief gekonstrueerde kategorie ‘vrou’ te handhaaf, daar verskeie maniere is om beide ‘n ‘vrou’ en ‘n moeder te wees. Dus word die agentskap en diversiteit van meisies en vroue tasbaar gemaak deur hul vermoë om veelvoudige subjek-posisies op te neem, of anders gestel, om heteropatriargie en sy ideale beide te oorleef en teen te staan.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/110302
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