Destiny Crockett, Department of English, UPenn
African American Girlishness in Black Women's Photography 1970-2003
How do we know when we are looking at an African American girl? What is made in our looking at the girls in the images Black women photographers capture? How do we read skin color, sartorial practice, gestures, and other characteristics and make a determination about the distinctiveness of African American girlhood based upon the way African American girls appear in images?
This paper dwells in a reading of African American girls as in excess of what Robin Bernstein would call the racially innocent child, as womanish. I pay particular attention to gesture, fight, and shine to argue that while one of the ongoing discussions in Black Girlhood Studies laments African American girls’ lack of access to the perceived innocence associated with American childhood, African American girls instead have an opportunity to have a more honest self-possession.
Lauren Harris, Department of Sociology, UPenn
Older Adults on the Dating Market: The Role of Family and Caregiving Responsibilities
Older adults are assumed to require carework, but given longer life spans, health improvements, and the economy, older adults are frequently becoming providers of carework. But with a growing older single population, how does providing care for one’s family impact the experience of finding a romantic partner? Relying on interviews with 50 men and 50 women, ages 60-83, this research centers the experiences of single older adults to understand how family relationships and responsibilities impact dating and forming romantic relationships. I find the impact of carework on older single adults’ dating and partnering opportunities is overwhelmingly gendered. While women found men more desirable when they performed carework, men found women less desirable, even to the point of ending a relationship. Men were only less desirable when women believed men required their carework. This research highlights the continued and substantial roles families and familial caregiving play in dating and partnering, even for older adults, and illustrates how gender roles differentiate those experiences, as women are punished for the same behaviors that earn rewards for men.
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