Soraya Chemaly is an award-winning writer and activist whose work focuses on the role of gender in culture, politics, religion, and media. She is the Director of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project and an advocate for women’s freedom of expression and expanded civic and political engagement. A prolific writer and speaker, her articles appear in Time, the Verge, The Guardian, The Nation, HuffPost, and The Atlantic. Follow her on Twitter at @SChemaly and learn more at SorayaChemaly.com.
In Girlfighting, psychologist and educator Lyn Mikel Brown scrutinizes the way our culture nurtures and reinforces this sort of meanness in girls. She argues that the old adage “girls will be girls”—gossipy, competitive, cliquish, backstabbing— and the idea that fighting is part of a developmental stage or a rite-of-passage, are not acceptable explanations. Instead, she asserts, girls are discouraged from expressing strong feelings and are pressured to fulfill unrealistic expectations, to be popular, and struggle to find their way in a society that still reinforces gender stereotypes and places greater value on boys. Under such pressure, in their frustration and anger, girls (often unconsciously) find it less risky to take out their fears and anxieties on other girls instead of challenging the ways boys treat them, the way the media represents them, or the way the culture at large supports sexist practices.
Girlfighting traces the changes in girls' thoughts, actions and feelings from childhood into young adulthood, providing the developmental understanding and theoretical explanation often lacking in other conversations. Through interviews with over 400 girls of diverse racial, economic, and geographic backgrounds, Brown chronicles the labyrinthine journey girls take from direct and outspoken children who like and trust other girls, to distrusting and competitive young women. She argues that this familiar pathway can and should be interrupted and provides ways to move beyond girlfighting to build girl allies and to support coalitions among girls.
By allowing the voices of girls to be heard, Brown demonstrates the complex and often contradictory realities girls face, helping us to better understand and critique the socializing forces in their lives and challenging us to rethink the messages we send them.
This thoroughly revised new edition updates Sheila Greene's original transformative account of the psychological development of girls and women and the central role of time in shaping human experience. Greene critically reviews traditional and contemporary theoretical approaches – ranging from orthodox psychoanalysis to relational and post-modern theories – and argues that even those that claim to focus on development have presented a view of women's lives as fixed and determined by their nature or their past. These theories, she believes, should be rejected because of their inherent lack of validity and their frequently oppressive implications for women.
Essential but often neglected insights from the more compelling developmental and feminist theories are woven together within a theoretical framework that emphasizes temporality, emergence and human agency. The result is a liberating theory of women's psychological development as constantly emerging and changing in time rather than as static and fixed by their nature, socio-cultural context and personal history.
Updated for a new generation of readers, The Psychological Development of Girls and Women will continue to be essential reading for students and researchers in the psychology of women, developmental psychology and women's studies.
The book will allow readers to recognize themselves and their own sacred passions in these stories. Once recognized, women can educate themselves and each other. They can use the wisdom represented in Greek mythology to create meaningful and complete lives in the context of a culture that is still dominated by men and their passions. In this way, women will be liberated to do everything they can to leave a better world behind for their children, grandchildren and future generations.