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Teens' explorations of gender and sexual identities in conversation about/around preferred text

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Brittany Clark

on 11 October 2012

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Transcript of Teens' explorations of gender and sexual identities in conversation about/around preferred text

Girl walking by: What game is that?
Gil: One that will come out next year.
(Girl continues walking)
Wyatt: (leans closer to G) Yeah, it's cool.
G: Yeah, these are some of the best graphics ever. See he's patting him down.
W: I want Snake Eater.
G: The slideshow shows the android guard who pats
down a man then squeezes the guy's crotch until he passes out.
(looks at Wyatt) It's an effective military move, so why not use it.
W: (gets up and moves to the other side of the table)
G: (Returns gaze to the monitor) Gil and Wyatt Examines teens' exploration of gender and sexual identities through their talk about their preferred texts accessed in the Young Adult (YA) section of a Midwestern public library through Discourse Analysis (DA).
Ethnographic study
Informed by Queer Theory (QT) and New Literacy Studies (NLS) Introduction Shawn and Jamal Focus Question: Describe how the speakers are disidentifying with gendered normativity through linguistic practices. Teen's explorations of gender and sexual identities in conversations about/around preferred texts by Margaret Berg Summary What Berg Argues The practices of teens in the library complicate popular and scholarly discourse that constructs teens as peer-oriented, hormonally-controlled, and transitioning into adulthood.
The teens’ practices illustrate savvy, individual choices that allow teens to subvert the heterosexual norms of the adult controlled schools.
Need for educators to advocate for adolescents’ access to their preferred texts. Terminology Discourse Analysis (DA) the study of language-in-use and the recognition that “language, action, and knowledge are inseparable” from each other in a situation (18). Every action and utterance has, with varying degrees, a “sexualized interpretation” even when an act is not inherently sexual. (18) Queer Theory (QT) study of normative forms of identity, particularly those in which sex, gender and sexuality do not align in a heterosexually prescribed way.
Identities are not ‘natural’ or inherent
but constructed and contingent. (18) New
Literacy Studies
(NLS) views literacy as a socially constructed practice, and that the way people engage in reading, writing, listening, and speaking tasks is rooted in notions of identity and being; concerned with whose ideologies are dominant and whose are marginalized and/or resistant to the dominant beliefs; equates identity to discourse NLS purports that practice is ideological and demonstrates culturally dominant ideas, and resistance to them. QT complements the NLS framework by focusing on practices that destabilize the dominant constructions of heteronormativity. Taken Together Ideology (Althusser) Relation to the School? Represents
the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence. (Quote 1) Hails or interpellates
concrete individuals
as concrete
(Quote 2) Has a
existence because
an ideology always
exists in an apparatus: it manifests itself throughactions
that are turned into practices. Imposes
“that’s obvious”
“that’s right”
“that’s true” “The gendered ideology
schools’ curriculum
stymies identity
that do not align with
these institutions’ mission
to apprentice youth into
dominant norms” (18) Disidentification is meant to be descriptive of the survival strategies the minority subject practices in order to negotiate a phobic majoritarian public sphere that continuously elides or punishes the existence of subjects who do not conform to the phantasm of normative citizenship. (4) Person who
I'll buy into it. Munoz 's
Disidentification Person who
I'll have nothing
to do with it. Person who says:
I will kind of go
along with it,
but I'll turn it
inside out and
rework it. Three forms of recognition Disidentification!! Describe how the speakers are disidentifying
with gendered normativity
through linguistic practices. How these adolescents’ explorations
of gender and sexual identities
are instanced through language and action. "Recognition" is when a subject
realizes that they have been
hailed/interpellated by
ideology Berg's Analysis - Sexuality and Gender are more subtle
- Snake Eater - Insider knowledge, Allusion to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, MGS3
- Another game which involves physical contact between men
- Gil directs conversation towards physical and violent theme
- Wyatt backs off because of the physical threat Homosociality Masculinity Backtalk Wyatt tries to prove insider knowledge, maintain an indirect link to Gil and his interests
Reflection of readings in Kiesling Kiesling studied the way in which men's language/homosociality recreated "patterns of dominance" (Kiesling 696)
Dominance in play, exactly that Practicing social taboos - Kiesling demonstrates as being a masculine ideology in discourse
Gil and Wyatt's references ("snake eater", "squeezes his groin")
Each are fitting into the masculine discourse in a way and responding to the call of ideology
Gil rejects Wyatt's use of indirect intimacy
Wyatt's use of gamer jargon - subtitle of the game
Gil avoids following the flow of conversation Wyatt seeks
Opposite to the interactions between frat brothers in Kiesling's study - instead of a playful ragging a thinly veiled threat Shawn deliberately guides Jamal to his female cyberspace persona
Shawn represses his anticipation of Jamal's response
Jamal initially responds to the cyber profile with surprise, followed by bewilderment
Jamal's reaction evidences his prior expectations of Shawn's online identity Margaret A. Berg's Conversation Analysis "Shawn demonstrates shrewd reasoning as he invites Jamal to befriend him on his terms" (27).
Shawn's deliberation is a "purposeful display of queered gender;" the teen has mitigated future opportunities for public embarrassment through his intended discovery (27).
Shawn's actions save him the chagrin of direct networking turning into a blocked/ignored "friend request;" his female persona, "Jenny Joy," could easily have been denied by Jamal.
Social networks are Shawn's primary medium of sexual exploration and identification. Margaret A. Berg's Conclusions Gil could be said to utilize backtalk in the way that Sissy Miller did in her discourse
in Stewart's "Backtalking the Wilderness"
Sissy used a stereotyped color and sexualized scenario to present herself as and disidentify with her husband's ideas about how a wife should be
Gil uses masculine, violent, taboo language to focus the conversation
on his interpretation of "an effective military move"
The military is another realm of normative masculinity, homosociality, & violence
This disidentification with Wyatt as a fellow in the gamer realm discourages Wyatt from further attempting to initiate a sense of homosocial intimacy with him Disidentification in College Gamers' Realm Independent Analysis In a scenario with 4 college aged gamers and Call of Duty
After one gamer's character is shot by another
The first gamer says something along the lines of "Yeah, bro"
and proceed to "teabag" the first player's character by placing their character over the other This scenario uses masculine language by way of taboo, sexualized, and violence discourse while asserting dominance over another individual
Different from Wyatt and Gil in that it reinforces homosociality, is used in playfulness rather than threat
In this way the gamers are supporting Munoz's theory of disidentification - following several masculine norms
while rejecting others 1) Shawn is disidentified with the homonormativity encouraged in academic locations; instead he displays his personal gendered recognition through online social networks.

2) Jamal's initial consternation depicts his interpellation into homonormative ideology, which anticipates Shawn's cyber identity to adhere to societal standards of traditional gender identification. Boys' Talk 1 Carver: (as Wyatt sits down; loudly) I've got a long staff now.
2: Shawn: (chuckles)
3 Wyatt: Quit yelling
4 (pause)
5 C: (bouncing slightly in chair, quieter than before, glances at Wyatt) I'm purple now.
6 W: (leans closer, puts left arm on the armrest of Carver's chair)
7 C: (continues moving mouse, quiet) I've got to go, my nanny's probably here. (gets up) Analysis Cont. 3) Shawn's actions expose an external sexualized desire for control and power; his manipulation of Jamal's revelation - as well as diverging his gendered identity on mailable social sites - illustrates Shawn's control.

4) Linguistically, a majority of Shawn's gendered texts exist online, although Shawn's body language served to validate his sexual persona. In direct contrast to the last interaction between Wyatt and another male, here, Carver welcomes the attention and the chance to forge (or strengthen) some sort of relationship between them Berg's Analysis Masculine Language The interaction between Wyatt and Carver is a key example of what normative masculine language looks like: -INDIRECT

-attention grabbing in its aim to maintain dominance within the group

-again, deliberately socially and topically indirect These performances are anything but casual, but are in fact "organized and even motivated by certain cultural discourses". (Kiesling 2005) Desire (and gender) performed through social practice Shared topic (conversation is usually based on some shared or common grounds Cornerstones of Masculine Language (How Boys Talk to One Another) Competition amongst speakers; participants are frequently trying to "one up" each other Conversation surrounds a subject, speakers rarely address one another as point of topic (unless to initiate aggression or to dominate the other) Topic is culturally "masculine" (video games in this instance) Deliberate use of "taboo" words to distract from any sort of unveiled intimacy Sexual Linguistics - Body Language -Ethnographic Research
-Why doesn't Shawn warn Jamal about his online social profile?
-Utilizes silence (omission of information) as a motivating force for Jamal's discovery
-Berg calls Shawn's laughter "paradoxical"
-Meaning behind the laughter?
-Jamal's reaction... Use of trivial knowledge and/or coded language about such knowledge to cement a sort of brotherhood/exclude others not within the community
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