Journal of Interdisciplinary Feminist Thought


Communication | Gender and Sexuality | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


This paper explores the binary divide packaged under the children’s How be the Best at Everything (2007) girl/boy advice books. Postmodern and materialist feminist thought as a lens into media-infused social and class reproduction provide a theoretical framework in interrogating this gender binary. I argue that that the books, as heteronormative nostalgia, operationalize a theory I term “gender retraction,” a phenomenon in which the vast knowledge that informs our identity spectrum propels us into a cultural time warp, where, with an array of socially inscribed possibilities, the binary clarity of age old girl/boy categories has resurging appeal The paper exposes gender retraction modeling invented and packaged under boy/girl advice and also analyzes contemporary production modes of sex and class division that stage an uneven distribution of gender capital. Closing arguments propose a gender progression vs. retraction frame to promote open-subject opportunities for children to become.