“We Celebrate Our Girls”: Creativity and Competency in Performing Femineity at an Irish Traveller Hen Night


Caroline H. Miller (Indiana University Bloomington)

Two pervasive and seemingly contradictory stereotypes about Irish Travellers are that Traveller women and girls are hypersexualized while simultaneously expected to adhere to strict Catholic behavioral norms, and thus stripped of agency. This paper seeks to challenge these stereotypes by examining the performance of femininity in the intergenerational all-female space of an Irish Traveller hen night celebration. Though most of the young women’s costumes would be considered revealing by outsiders, these parties are not about hyper-sexualization but highlighting young women’s creativity and competency in adhering to community standards of femineity while subverting community norms by centering attention on female relationships.

Part of 04-07 Dynamic Recenterings and Reconsiderations of Gender and Folklore, Friday, October 14, 8:30 am–10:00 am