Daddy's Girl: Young Girls and Popular Culture

Valerie Walkerdine, Author
Valerie Walkerdine, Author Harvard University Press $42 (192p) ISBN 978-0-674-18600-2
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Paperback - 220 pages - 978-0-674-18601-9
Hardcover - 209 pages - 978-0-333-64779-0
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The title here is misleadingly broad. Walkerdine, a professor of the psychology of communication at the University of London focuses mainly on British working-class girls. Still, Daddy's Girl should act as a springboard for much-needed discussions about the way popular culture influences and reflects both how we view little girls and how they form their own identities--if you can make your way through dense jargon. Ironically, Walkerdine points out, even as child sexual abuse is at the forefront of public discourse (witness America's preoccupation with JonBenet Ramsey) and we try to isolate the problem by pointing the finger at a few ""bad"" men, popular images of little girls as ""eroticized child-women"" are ubiquitous, and can be found in ""respectable"" newspapers and magazines as well as on television. ""This is not about a few perverts,"" argues Walkerdine, ""but about the complex construction of the highly contradictory gaze at little girls, one which places them as at once threatening and sustaining rationality, little virgins that might be whores, to be protected, yet... constantly alluring."" Too frequently, middle-class, white, blonde-haired girls represent innocence while working-class girls are portrayed as little Lolitas. Combining her personal narrative of growing up working-class with studies of icons such as Little Orphan Annie and Shirley Temple and accounts of visits to the homes of working-class families, Walkerdine exposes deep-seated hypocrisies. Photos. (Sept.)
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