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Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Agression in Girls [Paperback]

Rachel Simmons
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)

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Paperback, April 15 2003 --  
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Book Description

April 15 2003
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.

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From Amazon

There is little sugar but lots of spice in journalist Rachel Simmons's brave and brilliant book that skewers the stereotype of girls as the kinder, gentler gender. Odd Girl Out begins with the premise that girls are socialized to be sweet with a double bind: they must value friendships; but they must not express the anger that might destroy them. Lacking cultural permission to acknowledge conflict, girls develop what Simmons calls "a hidden culture of silent and indirect aggression."

The author, who visited 30 schools and talked to 300 girls, catalogues chilling and heartbreaking acts of aggression, including the silent treatment, note-passing, glaring, gossiping, ganging up, fashion police, and being nice in private/mean in public. She decodes the vocabulary of these sneak attacks, explaining, for example, three ways to parse the meaning of "I'm fat."

Simmons is a gifted writer who is skilled at describing destructive patterns and prescribing clear-cut strategies for parents, teachers, and girls to resist them. "The heart of resistance is truth telling," advises Simmons. She guides readers to nurture emotional honesty in girls and to discover a language for public discussions of bullying. She offers innovative ideas for changing the dynamics of the classroom, sample dialogues for talking to daughters, and exercises for girls and their friends to explore and resolve messy feelings and conflicts head-on.

One intriguing chapter contrasts truth telling in white middle class, African-American, Latino, and working-class communities. Odd Girl Out is that rare book with the power to touch individual lives and transform the culture that constrains girls--and boys--from speaking the truth. --Barbara Mackoff --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Although more than 16 years have passed, Rhodes Scholar Simmons hasn't forgotten how she felt when Abby told the other girls in third grade not to play with her, nor has she stopped thinking about her own role in giving Noa the silent treatment. Simmons examines how such "alternative aggression" where girls use their relationship with the victim as a weapon flourishes and its harmful effects. Through interviews with more than 300 girls in 10 schools (in two urban areas and a small town), as well as 50 women who experienced alternative aggression when they were young, Simmons offers a detailed portrait of girls' bullying. Citing the work of Carol Gilligan and Lyn Mikel Brown, she shows the toll that alternative aggression can take on girls' self-esteem. For Simmons, the restraints that society imposes to prevent girls from venting feelings of competition, jealousy and anger is largely to blame for this type of bullying. It forces girls to turn their lives into "a perverse game of Twister," where their only outlets for expressing negative feelings are covert looks, turned backs and whispers. Since the events at Columbine, some schools have taken steps to curb relational aggression. For those that haven't, Simmons makes an impassioned plea that no form of bullying be permitted.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars She's got the wrong idea March 10 2004
Format:Paperback
I am sick and tired of hearing how typical male behaviors, such as overt aggression, are 'normal' and 'healthy' and typical female behaviors, such as the subtler aggression of girls, are somehow 'pathological'. How about this - both are normal, and both are wrong? Female bullies don't need an outlet for aggression - they need to learn some compassion and moral values.
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Format:Hardcover
You know, I get so sick to death of scientists with their graphs, their figures, their boxes and numbers, because the majority of this research actually has very little real value.
Have you ever seen any of the questions they ask these young people in that research? They have to classify on how many isolated occasions they are bullied during a day, a week, a month and the answers to that are all put in graphs. Bullying is generally classified by types such as physical bullying, exclusion, namecalling and so on.
The problem with this method is that it assumes a whole number of things it should not assume! For a start, a lot of bullying does not happen in single isolated incidents but in an endless stream of small continual pinpricks, the sum of which cause a person unbelievable distress, but when a (young) person tries to explain what is going on they sound petty. "It was just a joke"
What about hate campains, where everything is under the surface, where one person gets bumped into twenty times a day, stepped on, 'actidentally' pushed down the stairs, 'accidentally' hit over the head with a bag several times a day by different people, every single time followed by a 'oops, sorry about that'? What about the systematic putting down of someone through a whole range of little things, but by a (so-called) close friend, something that would not even be classified as bullying by the victim, even though it can be very abusive? How would that fit into any of these neat little boxes?
The problem is that a lot of the bullying is so subtle that the victim is never quite sure whether they are imagining things and when they do stand up for themselves, they often get classed by teachers as a problem kid, rather than as a victim of harrassment by the rest of the group.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Own Your Voice June 7 2004
Format:Hardcover
While Ms. Simmons says, "There is a hidden culture of girls' aggression in which bullying is epidemic, distinctive, and destructive," I must say that this is not new - as epidemic implies.
Girl bullying has been around as long as the industrial age has been around. And I believe that this continues throughout women's lives, if they continue to place societal and mother/daughter expectations before listening to their inner selves.

Girls and women put such a high price on their self-esteem, based upon pleasing their friends, that often, if they were to slow down, and truly think about what a friendship freely gives: A commitment to tell the other what you think, judge, feel, value, love, honor, hate, fear, desire, hope for, believe in, and are committed to - without reprisal, they would see that they have spent their lives making soul bribes, based upon unspoken rules about disowning yourselves.
Another interesting point is that girls and women often say that guys don't have true friends, because many guys based their friendships upon whether or not they do some activity, such as play golf together, from time to time. The complaint comes from the fact that these guys don't get into one another's psyche. And many wouldn't know if the other is having marital problems.
Women and girls spend so much time pushing boys and mean to process their emotions and say what they mean, when in fact, if we were to look at how females act amongst one another, without the boys around, we would have to admit that most women and girls spend an incredible amount of time walking on egg shells around one another. Yes. There is a great deal of bounding that goes on. But, when their is a problem, do we talk about it to the point that we fully process it, int the presence of our friends?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Odd Girl Out June 2 2004
Format:Paperback
If you've ever been left out or hurt by a close friend, then this is the book to read. Many girls believe they are the only ones who have been put through torture from their close friends, or girls at school; after reading this book, they will realize they are not alone.
This book is one of few that girls will say, "That happened to me!" The way the author Rachel Simmons incorporates interviews, stories, facts, and opinions on how society effects girls' behaviors, keeps the reader interested all through out the book.
This book is not only for women who can relate to the hardships, but also for everyone who wants to learn a little about the way women work.
The author recognizes that every girl has been on each side of passive aggressive disputes. She tells stories about her troubles has a girl growing up and then stories of older women who have grown to learn from their experiences. Not all of the women pick up the same things from their childhood, but most don't realize or regret the way they treated other girls because they think the other one deserved it.
Simmons goes around different schools all over the country to see how people's way of life effect the way they that deal with their problems. Over all most of the girls deal with the problems the same because the same pressures are all over in the United States.
Towards the middle of the book, Simmons decides to write more stories from different girls at different times. Some of the girls are women now and they have sent an e-mail of their story and others are interviewed in person. It was easier for the women to tell their stories because they have learned from them and have gotten over them. But the girls that are in their teens and have recent stories seem to have to tell their stories in secret.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Aha!
A must read for any mother of a daughter or a woman in search of herself -at any age. Provided many 'aha' moments and provided insight on a childhood endured 50 years ago. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Jan
5.0 out of 5 stars super
wonderfully written, I would highly recommend it for any woman or adolescent girl or boy. I think it does a great job of describing the hidden culture between women
Published on July 4 2009 by Shelly Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Some girls never outgrow it
Even as a woman in my late 20's I continue to see this type of behavior among my peers. Particularly in the work context, I have observed: exclusion, silence and denials of... Read more
Published on July 19 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Girls in Love Don't Do Malicious Things
Girls getting sex aren't doing mean things.
Girls in love don't think of malicious things; instead they are dreaming......... Read more
Published on May 15 2004 by Patricia B. Ross
5.0 out of 5 stars It's about time.
I got this book at my mom's suggestion, because I was going through my own situation a couple of years ago with 2 other girls. (I'm now 15) This book could not have been truer. Read more
Published on April 30 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!!
Rachel Simmons shows the truth behind the doors of any average girl. She also shows the trials and tribulations that girls go through in school. Read more
Published on March 12 2004 by Stephanie
5.0 out of 5 stars Brought back memories and made me face myself
This book is easy to read, but emotionally, it's a roller coaster. Over all, I'm glad I read it.
It deals with the often sugar-coated agression of girls against each other. Read more
Published on Jan. 11 2004 by LindaT
5.0 out of 5 stars Please Get This Book to Ireland!
I am an American living in a very small town in Ireland. I bought this book in response to some traumatic events which affected my eight year-old daughter earlier this year, and... Read more
Published on Jan. 3 2004 by Amy Girard-Brady
2.0 out of 5 stars great topic, flawed analysis & presentation
Yes, aggressive behavior in girls is an interesting and important topic to investigate. Yes, aggressive behavior in girls can cause lasting damage, or at least lasting memories, to... Read more
Published on Nov. 11 2003
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