Odd Girl Out, Revised and Updated: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel SimmonsOdd Girl Out, Revised and Updated: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons

Odd Girl Out, Revised and Updated: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls

byRachel Simmons

Paperback | August 3, 2011

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When Odd Girl Out was first published, it became an instant bestseller and ignited a long-overdue conversation about the hidden culture of female bullying. Today the dirty looks, taunting notes, and social exclusion that plague girls' friendships have gained new momentum in cyberspace.

In this updated edition, educator and bullying expert Rachel Simmons gives girls, parents, and educators proven and innovative strategies for navigating social dynamics in person and online, as well as brand new classroom initiatives and step-by-step parental suggestions for dealing with conventional bullying. With up-to-the-minute research and real-life stories, Odd Girl Out continues to be the definitive resource on the most pressing social issues facing girls today.

READING GROUP GUIDE AND TEACHER'S GUIDE available at www.marinnerreadersguides.com

RACHEL SIMMONS, best-selling author of Odd Girl Speaks Out and The Curse of the Good Girl, is an educator and cofounder of the Girls Leadership Institute. A Rhodes Scholar, she has appeared on Today, Oprah, and other major shows, including her own PBS special, and writes frequently for Teen Vogue . www.rachelsimmons.com "
Title:Odd Girl Out, Revised and Updated: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in GirlsFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:432 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 1.15 inShipping dimensions:8 × 5.31 × 1.15 inPublished:August 3, 2011Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0547520190

ISBN - 13:9780547520193

Appropriate for ages: 14


Rated 5 out of 5 by from The dirty little secret is revealed When I saw this author in a television interview on the subject of female bullying, I just had to buy this book. This book was validation that what I experienced as a teenager was real. The bullying I was subjected to was overlooked by my parents, my teachers and my family. This is one of those 'dirty little secrets' that women do not want revealed. My own mother told me not to rock the boat when I tried to talk to her about being bullied at school. For teachers who have it going on under their noses, it will help you to see it. Sometimes you just need to 'call them on it' and let these girls know that you are on to them. This sort of behaviour must not be tolerated. It must be stamped out in classrooms and school yards everywhere! This book is for any man who has daughters, or who can't understand what is going on between women. It is for any mother who is willing to stand up and admit that this happens and to be one of those who will help to break the cycle. Most of all, it is for any adult or young girl who asks 'why me?'. A great read and a real education for some who need to understand.
Date published: 2004-01-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from not what I expected The book has some interesting stories of bullying amongst girls, but as an educator, I felt it offered little usable information. I was expecting more tanglible material, some insight on how to handle it in the classroom. I know it happens in my classroom, but feel powerless. I feel the book did not give me the tools I was searching for.
Date published: 2003-03-30

Read from the Book

chapter one the hidden culture of aggression in girls The 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 target 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,4 “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 do.”   What would it mean to name girls’ aggression? Why have myths and stereotypes served us so well and so long?   Aggression is a powerful barometer of our social values. According to sociologist Anne Campbell, attitudes toward aggression crys- tallize sex roles, or the idea that we expect certain responsibilities to be assumed by males and females because of their sex.5 Riot grrls and women’s soccer notwithstanding, Western society still expects boys to become family providers and protectors, and girls to be nurturers and mothers. Aggression is the hallmark of masculinity; it enables men to control their environment and livelihoods. For better or for worse, boys enjoy total access to the rough and tumble. The link begins early: the popularity of boys is in large part determined by their willingness to play rough. They get peers’ respect for athletic prowess, resisting authority, and acting tough, troublesome, dominating, cool, and confident.   On the other side of the aisle, females are expected to mature into caregivers, a role deeply at odds with aggression. Consider the ideal of the “good mother”: She provides unconditional love and care for her family, whose health and daily supervision are her primary objectives. Her daughters are expected to be “sugar and spice and everything nice.” They are to be sweet, caring, precious, and tender.   “Good girls” have friends, and lots of them. As nine-year-old Noura told psychologists Lyn Mikel Brown and Carol Gilligan, perfect girls have “perfect relationships.”6 These girls are caretakers in training. They “never have any fights . . . and they are always together. . . . Like never arguing, like ‘Oh yeah, I totally agree with you.’” In depressing relationships, Noura added, “someone is really jealous and starts being really mean. . . . [It’s] where two really good friends break up.”   A “good girl,” journalist Peggy Orenstein observes in Schoolgirls, is “nice before she is anything else—before she is vigorous, bright, even before she is honest.” She described the “perfect girl” as the girl who has no bad thoughts or feelings, the kind of person everyone wants to be with. . . . [She is] the girl who speaks quietly, calmly, who is always nice and kind, never mean or bossy. . . . She reminds young women to silence themselves rather than speak their true feelings, which they come to consider “stupid,” “selfish,” “rude,” or just plain irrelevant.7 “Good girls,” then, are expected not to experience anger. Aggression endangers relationships, imperiling a girl’s ability to be caring and “nice.” Aggression undermines who girls have been raised to become.   Calling the anger of girls by its name would therefore challenge the most basic assumptions we make about “good girls.” It would also reveal what the culture does not entitle them to by defining what nice really means: Not aggressive. Not angry. Not in conflict.   Research confirms that parents and teachers discourage the emergence of physical and direct aggression in girls early on while the skirmishing of boys is either encouraged or shrugged off.8 In one example, a 1999 University of Michigan study found that girls were told to be quiet, speak softly, or use a “nicer” voice about three times more often than boys, even though the boys were louder. By the time they are of school age, peers solidify the fault lines on the playground, creating social groups that value niceness in girls and toughness in boys.   The culture derides aggression in girls as unfeminine, a trend explored in chapter four. “Bitch,” “lesbian,” “frigid,” and “manly” are just a few of the names an assertive girl hears. Each epithet points out the violation of her prescribed role as a caregiver: the bitch likes and is liked by no one; the lesbian loves not a man or children but another woman; the frigid woman is cold, unable to respond sexually; and the manly woman is too hard to love or be loved.   Girls, meanwhile, are acutely aware of the culture’s double standard. They are not fooled into believing this is the so-called postfeminist age, the girl power victory lap. The rules are different for boys, and girls know it. Flagrant displays of aggression are punished with social rejection.   At Sackler Day School, I was eating lunch with sixth graders during recess, talking about how teachers expected them to behave at school. Ashley, silver-rimmed glasses snug on her tiny nose, looked very serious as she raised her hand.   “They expect us to act like girls back in the 1800s!” she said indignantly. Everyone cracked up.   “What do you mean?” I asked.   “Well, sometimes they’re like, you have to respect each other, and treat other people how you want to be treated. But that’s not how life is. Everyone can be mean sometimes and they’re not even realizing it. They expect that you’re going to be so nice to everyone and you’ll be so cool. Be nice to everyone!” she mimicked, her suddenly loud voice betraying something more than sarcasm.   “But it’s not true,” Nicole said. The room is quiet.   “Anyone else?” I asked.   “They expect you to be perfect. You’re nice. When boys do bad stuff, they all know they’re going to do bad stuff. When girls do it, they yell at them,” Dina said.   “Teachers think that girls should be really nice and sharing and not get in any fights. They think it’s worse than it really is,” Shira added.   “They expect you to be perfect angels and then sometimes we don’t want to be considered a perfect angel,” Laura noted.   “The teacher says if you do something good, you’ll get something good back, and then she makes you feel like you really should be,” Ashley continued. “I try not to be mean to my sister or my mom and dad, and I wake up the next day and I just do it naturally. I’m not an angel! I try to be focused on it, but then I wake up the next day and I’m cranky.”   In Ridgewood, I listened to sixth graders muse about what teachers expect from girls. Heather raised her hand.   “They just don’t . . .” She stopped. No one picked up the slack.   “Finish the sentence,” I urged.   “They expect you to be nice like them, like they supposedly are, but . . .”   “But what?”   “We’re not.”   “I don’t go around being like goody-goody,” said Tammy.   “What does goody-goody mean?” I asked.   “You’re supposed to be sitting like this”—Tammy crossed her legs and folded her hands primly over her knees—”the whole time.”   “And be nice—and don’t talk during class,” said Torie.   “Do you always feel nice?” I asked.   “No!” several of them exclaimed.   “So what happens?”   “It’s like you just—the bad part controls over your body,” Tammy said. “You want to be nice and you want to be bad at the same time, and the bad part gets to you. You think”—she contorted her face and gritted her teeth—”I have to be nice.”   “You just want to tell them to shut up! You just feel like pushing them out of the way and throwing them on the ground!” said Brittney. “I wanted to do it like five hundred times last year to this girl. If I didn’t push her, I just walked off and tried to stay calm.”

Table of Contents


Foreword xv
Introduction 1

Chapter One: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls 15
Chapter Two: Intimate Enemies 39
Chapter Three: The Truth Hurts 67
Chapter Four: Bff 2.0: Cyberbullying and Cyberdrama 103
Chapter Five: She’s All That 145
Chapter Six: The Bully in the Mirror 171
Chapter Seven: Popular 197
Chapter Eight: Resistance 219
Chapter Nine: Parents Speak 245
Chapter Ten: Helping Her through Drama, Bullying, and Everything in Between 269
Chapter Eleven: Raising Girls in a Digital Age 313
Chapter Twelve: The Road Ahead for Educators and Administrators 335

Conclusion 359
Notes 369
Bibliography 377
Acknowledgments 387
Index 391
About The Book 397
About The Author 399
Discussion Questions 401
Tips To Further Enhance Your Reading of Odd Girl Out 405

Editorial Reviews

Praise for ODD GIRL OUTThere has not been so much interest in young females since psychologist Mary Pipher chronicled anorexics and suicide victims in her 1994 bestseller, Reviving Ophelia ." - The Washington Post "Provocative . . . Cathartic to any teen or parent trying to find company . . . it will sound depressingly familiar to any girl with a pulse." - Detroit Free Press "Encourages girls to address one another when they feel angry or jealous, rather than engage in the rumor mill." - Chicago Tribune "Peels away the smiley surfaces of adolescent female society to expose one of girlhood's dark secrets: the vicious psychological warfare waged every day in the halls of our . . . schools." - San Francisco Chronicle "Passionate and beautifully written. A significant contribution to our understanding of the psychology of girls." -Michael Thompson, co-author of Raising Cain An American School Board Journal Notable Book in Education"