Odd Girl Out

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 4/1/2003
  • Publisher: Mariner Books

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Dirty looks and taunting notes are just a few examples of girl bullying that girls and women have long suffered through silently and painfully. With this book Rachel Simmons elevated the nation's consciousness and has shown millions of girls, parents, counselors, and teachers how to deal with this devastating problem. Poised to reach a wider audience in paperback, including the teenagers who are its subject, Odd Girl Out puts the spotlight on this issue, using real-life examples from both the perspective of the victim and of the bully.

Author Biography

Rachel Simmons graduated from Vassar College in 1996, where she studied Women's Studies and Political Science. In 1998, she received a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University where she began her research of female bullying and the psychology of girls. She has worked in politics in Washington and New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
The hidden culture of aggression in girlsp. 15
Intimate enemiesp. 39
The truth hurtsp. 67
She's all thatp. 103
The bully in the mirrorp. 129
Popularp. 155
Resistancep. 177
Parents and teachersp. 203
The road aheadp. 231
Conclusionp. 261
Notesp. 271
Bibliographyp. 277
Acknowledgmentsp. 287
Indexp. 291
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.


CHAPTER oneTHE HIDDEN CULTURE OF AGGRESSION IN GIRLSThe Linden School campus is nestled behind a web of sports fields that seem to hold at bay the bustling city in which it resides. On Monday morning in the Upper School building, students congregated languidly, catching up on the weekend, while others sat knees-to-chest on the floor, flipping through three-ring binders, cramming for tests. The students were dressed in styles that ran the gamut from trendy to what can only be described, at this age, as defiant. Watching them, it is easy to forget this school is one of the best in the region, its students anything but superficial. This is what I came to love about Linden: it celebrates academic rigor and the diversity of its students in equal parts. Over the course of a day with eight groups of ninth graders, I began each meeting with the same question: "What are some of the differences between the ways guys and girls are mean?"From periods one through eight, I heard the same responses. "Girls can turn on you for anything," said one. "Girls whisper," said another. "They glare at you." With growing certainty, they fired out answers:"Girls are secretive.""They destroy you from the inside.""Girls are manipulative.""There's an aspect of evil in girls that there isn't in boys.""Girls target you where they know you're weakest.""Girls do a lot behind each other's backs.""Girls plan and premeditate.""With guys you know where you stand.""I feel a lot safer with guys."In bold, matter-of-fact voices, girls described themselves to me as disloyal, untrustworthy, and sneaky. They claimed girls use intimacy to manipulate and overpower others. They said girls are fake, using each other to move up the social hierarchy. They described girls as unforgiving and crafty, lying in wait for a moment of revenge that will catch the unwitting victim off guard and, with an almost savage eye-for-an-eye mentality, "make her feel the way I felt."The girls' stories about their conflicts were casual and at times filled with self-hatred. In almost every group session I held, someone volunteered her wish to have been born a boy because boys can "fight and have it be over with."Girls tell stories of their anger in a culture that does not define their behaviors as aggression. As a result, their narratives are filled with destructive myths about the inherent duplicity of females. As poet and essayist Adrienne Rich notes,2 "We have been depicted as generally whimsical, deceitful, subtle, vacillating."Since the dawn of time, women and girls have been portrayed as jealous and underhanded, prone to betrayal, disobedience, and secrecy. Lacking a public identity or language, girls' nonphysical aggression is called "catty," "crafty," "evil," and "cunning." Rarely the object of research or critical thought, this behavior is seen as a natural phase in girls' development. As a result, schools write off girls' conflicts as a rite of passage, as simply "what girls d

Excerpted from Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons
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