Two 14-year-old girls, fed up with the "Hooters" shirts worn by their male classmates, design their own rooster logo: "Cocks: Nothing to crow about". Seventeen-year-old April Schuldt, unmarried, pregnant and cheated out of her election as homecoming queen by squeamish school administrators, disrupts a pep rally with a protest that engages the whole school. This text, filled with the voices of teenage girls, corrects the misperceptions that have crept into the usual picture of female adolescence. Based on Lyn Brown's yearlong conversation with white junior high and middle-school girls, it allows the reader to hear how the girls adopt some expectations about gender but strenuously resist others; how they use traditionally feminine means to maintain their independence; and how they recognize and resist pressures to ignore their own needs and wishes.
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(229mm x 152mm x 17mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
A rebuttal to - or at least an amplification of - the research and popular writing that shows young teenage girls as tuned-out and turned-off shadows of their lively, challenging preadolescent selves. Brown (Education and Human Development/Colby Coll.) was co-author with Carol Gilligan of the much-discussed Meeting at the Crossroads (1992), the study of girls' development at an Ohio school that seemed to reinforce reports that girls on the cusp of puberty experience plummeting self-esteem. Brown objects that reports of this research (which made girls appear passive and victimized) were misleading. She set up another study of white junior high school girls, differentiated by class (working vs. middle), in two communities in Maine. Each group of girls met weekly to discuss gender-related issues and whatever else might come up. Both groups were angry and frustrated about what they felt was discrimination in the classroom and pressure for them to conform to a female ideal. The working-class girls were more likely to express their anger directly, to feel outrage appropriately, and to resist more strongly fitting into the good-girl mold. Yet they saw their futures as "dim" and uncertain and themselves as "stupid," because they or their families had been unable to move up the economic ladder. The middle-class girls were more likely to lead double lives: quiet and conforming in public (e.g., school), argumentative and defiant at home or among close friends. Their economic futures were rosier, however, with college and career virtual givens. Brown explores both groups' awareness of (and struggles against) cultural expectations of what women should be. That they seem to be losing the war is sad; that they are fighting at all is heartening. Appealing subjects mix confusion and protest about equally; but in this study, the consequences of the economic gap are more interesting than those of the gender gap. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Lyn Mikel Brown
Lyn Mikel Brown is Associate Professor of Education and Human Development at Colby College.