Sexual Subjectivity: A Semiotic Analysis of Girlhood, Sex, and Sexuality in the Film Juno

Abstract

Historical approaches to girlhood provide a basis for understanding changing cultural ideologies of sex, sexuality, and youth. While situating sexual desire, biological possibilities, and social responses to girls’ engagement in sexual intercourse at the center of its plot, the film Juno depicts the transgressive sexual agency of a young girl without substantially disrupting longstanding discourses of femininity. Through an analysis of the semiotics of girlhood within the film, I argue that the girl figure in this representation signifies an amalgam of two traditionally dichotomized conceptions of ‘‘femininity.’’ Juno serves as a particularly intriguing example of the ways in which adolescent female sexuality is conceptualized within popular western culture during the early part of the 21st century.

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