chapter  6
22 Pages

Penny: The “Good” Girl

Penny is a working-class Asian American girl who positions herself in the classroom as quiet, nice, kind, and helpful. She is well behaved and most teachers would consider her a “good” girl. Like Alan, she understands gender discourses and how they work in the classroom and society. In many ways, Penny is the opposite of Alan. While Alan works hard at accessing discourses of hegemonic masculinity, Penny is just as vigilant about being a good girl. However, locating the gender work that Penny does in the classroom is challenging. Emphasized femininity is about being silent, quiet, compliant, and good. These characteristics are tough to notice because they are not visually or physically as loud as hegemonic masculinity. As part of the dominant discourse of heterosexuality, emphasized femininity appears natural and normal, making it difficult to recognize and document. Although it was hard to document Penny’s talk and actions in the classroom, I was able to locate a range of ways that Penny does gender in the classroom, allowing me to discover how she uses emphasized femininity to experience power.