Increasing the level of education of women and girls, increasing the level of employment and economic activities, as well as the presence in the virtual space and membership in social networks, has led to women's rethinking of gender roles. This change in attitude and feeling has led to their more active presence in the public sphere. They want to gain more power than in the past and play a more important role in redefining and rebuilding society. This tendency of girls to be present in public spaces and activism in social, educational, economic, and political fields is a sign of changes in girls' perception of the role of femininity and girlhood in society. The purpose of this article is to represent the lived experiences and perceptions of Farhangian University female students about girlhood. In this way, this article answers this question: How are lived experiences of female students of Farhangian University about girlhood?
This research is qualitative and describes and analyzes students' lived experiences of girlhood. The phenomenological approach is a suitable method for investigating people's lived experiences. The sample of research in this article is female students of Alborz Farhangian University. Based on this, the lived experiences of 22 students were collected. The age of the participants was between 20 and 23 years and all the students were female. The data collection method is a semi-structured interview. Students answered three general questions.
1- How do you describe being a girl?
2- What issues and problems have you faced due to being a girl?
3- How do you feel and understand the general perception (society, family, acquaintances, etc.) of girlhood?
After collecting the interviews, data analysis began. The data analysis method is thematic analysis. Narratives of the investigated samples of girlhood were categorized into 3 main themes: characteristics of girlhood, problems of girlhood, and agency of girlhood.
1- Characteristics of girlhood: Most of the examined samples highlighted the emotional characteristics and emotional behaviors of girls and emphasized the importance of feelings and emotions in the lives of girls. The studied samples have expressed the feeling of security and peace and the need for affection and attention as the basic needs of girls. Also, the investigated samples listed girls as having emotional characteristics such as patience, sadness, and kindness.
2- Problems of girlhood: The studied samples have expressed the problems of girls in society in three categories: restriction and deprivation, injustice and discrimination, and social misconceptions towards girls. The feeling of restriction and deprivation in the family, social, cultural, and economic spheres for girls is one of the most important problems that the majority of students have mentioned in their experiences. They have stated that they have faced family, social, cultural, and economic deprivations and restrictions in their everyday experiences. Also, the feeling of injustice and discrimination has been repeated in most of the examined samples. Almost all the examined samples have implicitly and openly pointed out that they have faced injustice and discrimination in social life. Also, the investigated samples were dissatisfied with some social misconceptions that are common about girls and protested against them. They have stated in their experiences that many people in society see girls and women as the second sex that needs care and control. Also, they think that women and girls are weak and incomplete so they are dependent on men and they cannot manage their lives without men. These social perceptions towards women and girls strongly cause deprivation and restrictions for girls and provide the necessary grounds and justifications for injustice and discrimination against girls.
3- the agency of girlhood: Examining the lived experiences of student girls shows that they are dissatisfied with some common misconceptions about girls and are looking for active agency and activism in the public and social sphere. The studied students were strongly seeking to change and correct social misconceptions about girls by intervening in society and showing their capabilities and talents.
Half of society is made up of women and girls. One of the methods that help to understand and recognize women's society is to examine the perceptions of femininity and girlhood in the society of women and girls. The results of this research show that girls' perceptions about the roles of femininity and girlhood in society have changed. This change in perception of girlhood has led to their tendency to be more present in public spaces and they want to be active in institutions and areas that determine their social fate in society.