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Authentic feminist? Authenticity and feminist identity in teenage feminists’ talk

Calder‐Dawe, Octavia ; Gavey, Nicola

British Journal of Social Psychology, December 2017, Vol.56(4), pp.782-798 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Authentic feminist? Authenticity and feminist identity in teenage feminists’ talk
  • Author: Calder‐Dawe, Octavia ; Gavey, Nicola
  • Subjects: Affect ; Authenticity ; Feminism ; Feminist Identity ; Gender Equality ; Postfeminism ; Teenage Feminists ; Young People
  • Is Part Of: British Journal of Social Psychology, December 2017, Vol.56(4), pp.782-798
  • Description: This article explores how young people's feminist identities take shape in conjunction with a contemporary ideal of personal authenticity: to know and to express the ‘real me’. Drawing from interviews with 18 teenagers living in Auckland, New Zealand, we examine a novel convergence of authenticity and feminism in participants’ identity talk. For social psychologists interested in identity and politics, this convergence is intriguing: individualizing values such as authenticity are generally associated with disengagement with structural critique and with a repudiation of politicized and activist identities. Rather than seeking to categorize authentic feminism as an instance of either ‘good/collective’ or ‘bad/individualized’ feminist politics, we use discourse analysis to examine how the identity position of authentic feminist was constructed and to explore implications for feminist politics. On one hand, interviewees mobilized authentic feminism to affirm their commitment to normative liberal values of authenticity and self‐expression. At the same time, the position of authentic feminist appeared to authorize risky feminist identifications and to justify counter‐normative feelings, desires, and actions. To conclude, we explore how encountering others’ intolerance of authentic feminism exposed interviewees to the limits of authenticity discourse, propelling some towards new understandings of the social world and their space for action within it.
  • Identifier: ISSN: 0144-6665 ; E-ISSN: 2044-8309 ; DOI: 10.1111/bjso.12207

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