Raising Their Voices: The Politics of Girls' Anger

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Harvard University Press, 1999 - Psychology - 259 pages
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Two fourteen-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.

Where are spirited girls like these in the popular accounts of teenage girlhood, that supposed wasteland of depression, low self-esteem, and passive victimhood? This book, filled with the voices of teenage girls, corrects the misperceptions that have crept into our picture of female adolescence. Based on the author's yearlong conversation with white junior-high and middle-school girls--from the working poor and the middle class--Raising Their Voices allows us to hear how 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.

With a psychologist's sensitivity and an anthropologist's attention to cultural variations, Lyn Brown makes provocative observations about individual differences in the girls' experiences and attitudes, and shows how their voices are shaped and constrained by class--with working-class girls more willing to be openly angry than their middle-class peers, and yet more likely to denigrate themselves and attribute their failures to personal weakness.

A compelling and timely corrective to conventional wisdom, this book attunes our hearing to the true voices of teenage girls: determined, confused, amusing, touching, feisty, and clear.

  

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Contents

Privileging Difference
20
Living outside the Lines
40
The Conventions of Imagination
71
Voice and Ventriloquation in Girls Development
103
Resisting Femininity
126
The Madgirl in the Classroom
155
Educating the Resistance
198
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About the author (1999)

Lyn Mikel Brown is Associate Professor of Education and Human Development at Colby College.

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