Doing Culture with Girls Like Me: Why Trying on Gender and Intersectionality Matters



Gendering is not a one-size-fits-all process. Girls try on gender. In particular, girls – conditioned to value connections – search their cultural surroundings for ‘girls like me’ to answer the weighty question, Who am I? However, girls are not simply passive beneficiaries of culture, but actively construct their gendered selves by engaging in or ‘doing’ culture; girls activate certain features salient to their experiences. This paper examines how race, ethnicity, and class arbitrate girls’ gendered identities, emphasizing the concept trying on gender to capture the intersectional and experimental character of these processes. As girls try on gender –a local and culturally specific endeavor – they engage in a fluid, multifaceted, and sometimes tentative gendering process. Cross-over literature by and for girls lends empirical support to how girls accomplish this multi-constructed sense of self. The article concludes with implications for studies of girls, including a cautionary note about overemphasis on individualistic agency.