Pihkala, S. & Huuki, T.: Duct-taped X: Gender and the ‘ethically enabling conditions’ of creative-activism on pre-teen peer cultures

The article above participates in the body of work seeking to develop ethically sustainable practices for addressing gender in young peer cultures in an inclusive, non-normative and transformative manner. To do so, the paper draw on feminist new materialist and posthuman scholarship and a series of events from our school-based creative workshops with children for addressing gender, sexuality and power in pre-teen peer cultures. First, by analyzing the gendered flows of forces of the workshop, the article demonstrates how educational and research interventions on gender are inseparably entangled and fraught with heteronormative flows of force that circulate in peer cultures. Second, the article argues that composing conditions for gender to be explored and addressed cannot be based on assumptions about how gender should matter when working with children but on how it does matter in the materially situated, affective and historically contingent practices of engagement. To achieve that aim, the article proposes ‘work in-tensionally’ to construct ‘ethically enabling conditions’ for school-based research and education on gender, sexuality and power in pre-teen peer cultures.

The pictures below are part of the article, illustrating the space of the workshops. A more detailed view can also be gained by watching a video showcasing the workshop setting and activities through which children aged 10-12 explore their experiences of gender and power, communicate their resistance of abusive practices and envision alternatives for ethically sustainable peer cultures: 

Huuki, Tuija; Hänninen, Sami; Louhela, Helena; Pihkala, Suvi; Puutio, Eveliina (2021). Kaveripajat [Friendship workshops]. University of Oulu. Url: https://youtu.be/iMIpu4GoLeU

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Picture 1. Line drawing around the oval plywood at the Orange room

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Picture 2. Chairs of the Hot seats  activity awaiting children.

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Picture 3. Duct-taped X across the doorway. 

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Picture 4. An artwork in the making. A group of girls exploring ways to join numbers to resist unwanted behavior form the boys, called Strenght in numbers.