Gendered emotion work and the micro-practices of heterosexuality: Two middle-class teenage partner relationships

Holford, Naomi (2019). Gendered emotion work and the micro-practices of heterosexuality: Two middle-class teenage partner relationships. Women's Studies International Forum, 74 pp. 162–168.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2019.04.003

Abstract

This paper uses close analysis of two couples to examine the micro-practices and processes of gendered power within middle-class young people's intimate partner relationships. It is based on in-depth interviews with 14–16 year old young people in an affluent area of England. The paper argues that intimate relationships can be spaces of intense pleasure, as well as providing a site of calm and escape from the peer surveillance of the broader social network. However, they can also be oppressive sites of constriction and control, and reproduction of traditional gendered narratives; in these couples, the young women were rendered responsible for the “emotion work”. The young women, though, often disavowed and downplayed inequalities, negotiating the contradictory and schizoid nature of contemporary girlhood.

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