Postfeminist notions of idealized girlhood have found their way into activist culture, where discourses have constructed an image of girl activist who is assertive, dynamic and self-determining. These girls are celebrated by the media, as long as they conform to idealized notions of girlhood. What, then, can explain the media fascination with gun control advocate, Emma Gonzalez, whose alternative identities are far from such notions? Through a textual discourse analysis of news coverage of Gonzalez, this article explores the media framing of this young activist, arguing that it is a discursive strategy used to support society in coming to terms with a contentious social issue. And while this media coverage makes an alternative version of girl activist visible, the discourse also brings attention to who counts in youth activist culture.
Monica Pauls is a doctoral students in the Department of Sociology at the University of Calgary. Her research interests include youth activism, youth justice, social change, and media. She has been working as a researcher in the social science field for over a decade and also teaches in Child and Youth Studies at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.