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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2009
I expected this book to be alarmist and possibly patronizing, but was impressed by the quality of the research and the strength of the author's arguments. Hinshaw convincingly shows that modern expectations or perceptions of women have changed since even a decade ago, and demonstrates how dangerous these new expectations and perceptions can be. His central argument is that today's young women are pressured to be good at 'girl stuff' like empathy, relationships, etc. while being good at 'boy stuff' like winning, being aggressive/athletic, etc. AND being thin, pretty, and available. Not only that, but girls are supposed to make all this look effortless. (Boys are supposed to DO. Girls are supposed to BE.)

Whether or not you personally feel this to be the case, Hinshaw's dissection of books, movies, and TV shows (from "Wicked," "Uglies," and "The It Girl" to "Grey's Anatomy," "Enchanted" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") were particularly interesting and insightful. Teenage girls themselves might find this book helpful, but I would recommend it to any woman interested in the subject, as well as parents.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2010
This is an outstanding work of scholarship as well as an important social commentary and contribution to our understanding of how we live today. I am a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist and pediatrician and I would recommend this book to anyone who ever was, is, or plans to come into contact with a teenager in any capacity. We are all responsible for these issues regardless of gender or age.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2014
This book is obviously about "The Triple Bind", but since this is just a needless complication of the concept of a "double bind", I would like to start by talking about the latter. The "double bind" in this book refers to the observation that contemporary girls are expected to "be good at all the traditional girl stuff" and at the same time "be good at most of the traditional guy stuff." Because many of the traits in these two categories are contradictory, Hinshaw argues, girls are incapable of meeting the expectations heaped upon them, leading them to violence, depression, and suicide. He further argues that this problem is a product of the rights revolutions of the mid-twentieth century, and therefore we should expect to see incidence of violence, depression, and suicide among girls increasing in the decades since the mid-twentieth century.

This book is a fine read if you already believe that the so-called double bind is an issue, and want to know what you can do about it. However, a careful reading of the first chapter reveals that it is not so certain whether the double bind even exists. Hinshaw devotes all of three pages to an analysis of the data to show that today, girls are in a crisis. Because Hinshaw so graciously reminded us on the cover of his book that he is a Ph.D., we should expect him to know that if the conclusions he draws in these pages are invalid, his entire book is a waste of paper. But take a look at his handling of the subject:

"Girls rates of aggression and violence are on the rise, while boys' rates have shown either less of a rise or an actual decrease during the past fifteen years. Boys are more physically violent than girls throughout their lives, so it is particularly distressing to review the latest government statistics that reveal alarming rates of self-reported girls' violence. Some experts contend that rates of official violence are distorted because of a tendency to include aggression at home (fights with siblings, for example) as "assaults" for girls, whereas the same acts would be given another label if boys committed them. But there is no doubt that girls have become more aggressive than previously, and that relational and social aggression (spreading rumors, getting even by forming coalitions against a target, and the like) continue to be a major issue for our daughters."

Here Hinshaw admits that the data do not prove aggression has increased in girls, but that he is nonetheless certain it has. The citation for this paragraph does not offer any insight into the mystery of his conviction. It refers only to a study performed in 2000 that shows that aggression in girls increased disproportionately within the 1990s. Even if this study controlled for the changing ways in which girls' violence is classified (it doesn't), it fails to demonstrate any larger historical trend outside the 90's.

The second of his five points is as follows:

"Self-mutilation among teenage girls---cutting, burning, biting, and other forms of serious self-injury---appears to be on the increase. Because girls go out of their way to hide this practice, statistics are hard to come by. But almost every clinician will tell you that rates are increasing---dramatically."

Almost every scientist (but not Hinshaw) will tell you that a person's impressions and intuitions are no substitute for controlled, blind experiment. Historical myopia, even among professional historians, is a well-documented phenomenon. This paragraph is truly an act of desperation.

The final three of his points demonstrate how many girls today suffer from depression, but do not even attempt to show that there has been any increase in the incidence of depression.

Now, because Hinshaw has failed to prove that aggression, depression, and suicide among girls have increased in recent decades, the remainder of this book is a journey into the hypothetical. Shall we continue?

The thesis of The Triple Bind is that girls are failing because it is impossible for them to meet the expectations given them. But nowhere in the book does Hinshaw explain who is doing the expecting. He writes as if it is Society, which presumably is a monolithic entity with a single set of values and expectations of its members. In reality society is composed of different groups (parents, teachers, peers, the media), and each one has potentially different expectations of girls, and each one carries potentially different weight in their minds.

It may be true that a girl's parents and teachers have higher expectations of her than they used to (be good at girl stuff and be good at boy stuff), and so it is more difficult for her to meet their expectations. On the other hand, her peers only expect her to accomplish what they themselves have already accomplished. If she is less pretty than her peers, she will feel pressure to be prettier. If her peers are getting straight A's, she will feel pressure to get straight A's. Therefore if by "expectations" we mean "peers' expectations", there can be no double bind, no unattainable expectation.

While we adults like to think that we are the center of our daughters' and students' worlds, a dispassionate reality check will reveal that they care far more about the approval of their peers. If kids care so much about their parent's approval, why do they go out of their way to listen to music their parents find appalling? Why do some cliques think school is uncool, despite adults' universal agreement that academic achievement is important? Where do counter-cultural groups come from---the ones who reject the image of the "perfect girl" fed to them by the media?

All the evidence suggests that girls are plenty capable of setting goals for themselves within their respective peer groups. What is important to them is becoming the most popular girl at school, the Valedictorian, the top pick for boys. What is important to them is relative perfection, not to be, as Hinshaw puts it, "100 percent perfect, 100 percent of the time."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2012
I reviewed this book on my Examiner.com column because I have re-read it more than once since it was released. This was my original review that was published:

The explosion of social media and digital communication has sparked a war against adolescent girls. The pressure to be perfect, to be all things, and to deny themselves. With all the demands proliferating the media images including advertisements that celebrate the ideal image it is no wonder that adolescent is ripe with triggers that amplify the need to conform for acceptance. Junior and senior high is never easy, even for the popular girls, because social pressure and the internal need to be accepted is all important.

Dr. Stephen Hinshaw, a research psychologist and scholar at UC, Berkeley has written a piercing book with Rachel Kranz on just how tough it is to be growing up female these days.This is an in-depth scholarly examination of the psychological impact of how societal demands increase the mental health deterioration of young females at their most vulnerable ages. For every parent with a daughter this book is a must read for just how much they must work to counteract the effects of these expectations. It is no wonder that the outcomes for women who were educated at all-girls schools in their formative years, is positive for academic and career achievement, as well as more solid self esteem. If removing adolescent girls from the pressure of competing for boys and eliminating the factors that contribute to them thinking that such approval equals self worth is the answer, perhaps more all-girls schools are a must.

While this solution seems extreme the alternate appears to be just as extreme. To lose their sense of self and self-value is something that does not need to happen nor should it. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was one media platform that addressed the deterioration in female self-esteem during adolescence in response to unrealistic images and their demands on young women. From his exclusive interview with Amazon, the following excerpt from Dr. Hinshaw is almost a warning statement of how far the pressure can cause even the strongest adolescent girl to buckle.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2009
I have worked in high school education for five years, and researched and read almost everything out there on young women. Nothing has even touched this book's eloquence, validity, and solutions. I even read some of it to my class.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2009
The book is very informative. It really shines a light on the stress teen's face. I recommend to any student having to deal with the pressures of extra curricular activities, homework, class work, etc.
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11 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2009
This book might be of interest to clueless daddies of troubled girls, everyone else with any awareness and intelligence already knows what this author is presenting. He reads a few studies, talks to a few girls, barely scratches below the surface then writes a book to tell us about this "new" generational phenomenon. Here's the bottom line: a significant percent of girls in society have always been depressed, it's not a new trend, we're only getting better at recognizing it, and a few men are finally taking the time to notice.

The author wants us to believe the problem now is that girls are expected to do too much in too many areas, and while that may be true, the real, underlying problem is girls are expected to be over-achievers in areas that their parents and society have indoctrinated them to believe they want to do, and not necessarily areas of their interest and level of ability--this is not new. Girls have always been expected to be what males want--pretty sex objects--and because girls are now allowed to have careers and other areas of interest they are stressing out trying to be and do everything. That doesn't take a PhD to figure out.

If you are new to thinking about the woman's plight in society then maybe read the book(but don't stop there because the problem is deeper), otherwise I'm sure there are better choices--try one written by a woman, and maybe who has experienced these problems firsthand herself--(same as I wouldn't recommend learning about People of Color by reading what white people have to say about them).
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