Adolescents and Society Blog #2

For my second blog I read the introduction and first chapter of the book “Gender and Globalization: Super Girls, Gangstas, Freeters, and Xenomaniacs: Gender and Modernity in Global Youth Cultures.”  The intro begins by talking about the Mozambian way of life with mobile phone technology. The author describes how mobile phone etiquette as an “idiom” is a way that many Mozambians express their understanding of gender relations in society today. The author explains, “I argue that while reproducing gendered ideals, mobile phone etiquette acts as a new register to express and address the reconfiguration of gender relations and the redrawing of ideas of masculinity, already under way” (p. 25).  This description of new technology and mobile phone etiquette  resembles the way our generation uses phones in american society today.

The research of this book was done in a town called Inhambane, which is a small provincial capital of just over fifty-seven thousand inhabitants in Southern Mozambique. The young adults the author worked with were between 19 and 29 and most were living in their parents households. Many of the young adults studied were born in trouble times which led to expectations of a “new beginning.” As African youth have often been described as the “lost generation,” the youth in America follow similar constructions. The “problem of youth” has been one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. Youth are therefore subject to much criticism as we are all subjects shaped by society as well as agents shaping society. The author’s goal in this particular chapter was to show the exploring gender relations through experiences with mobile phones and explain how these mobile phones offer a sense of what being a young adult in uncertain socioeconomic environments can mean. In the 20th century, masculinity in Mozambique was determined by a man’s work in the mines. Working in the mines were seen as a proof of maleness and were described as a rite of passage into manhood. Women were seen to have secondary roles, much like that in today’s society. The author describes how much of the youth in this area, especially females, have standards of getting an education, a job, or “not doing anything at all.” The author describes how not doing anything at all, isn’t literal, as much of the youth not doing anything are actually involved in petty crimes.

Relationships in this area have also changed. Men and women are marrying much later in life, if at all, because of lack of financial stability. Youth are instead engaging in intimate relationships which means being boyfriend and girlfriend.  One mother explains how unlike back in the day, “girls delay marriage and get a chance to enjoy intimate relationships.” The socioeconomic ideals in Inhambane (South Mozambique) expect men to be materially independent. But, men are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain these socioeconomic ideals therefore, sexuality has become a way for them to express their masculinity. As mobile phones come to these youth at a time where intimate relationships and household formation are being redefined, they are understood to accentuate these changes. Women often leave what are referred to as “bips” or “call me back” messages and if they don’t call back the men explain the loss of opportunity to answer a request of a beautiful girl. Men described their experience with these “bips” as stressful. Many of the women use “bips” to ask for things, and men almost always are there for whatever the women need. These gender roles that the phone etiquette describes are somewhat similar to gender roles experienced today. One man explained how responding to a “bip” makes you a “man.” This example reminds me of examples from the previous books we read in class as both men and women fulfill certain gender roles that society has made up. These roles can be very different depending on where you are from and what your socioeconomic status is, but the common theme is that they exist and they shape our youth and adolescents today. This chapter shows what it means to be a young adult living in an uncertain socioeconomic environment and the activities they partake in to feel like they belong. This new found technology in Inhambane left many of the young adults with overwhelming feelings as they hadn’t experienced anything like this before. These phones represent a certain degree of freedom and control over their lives which is a common feeling shared by adolescents across the world.

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