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Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 192 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0151006045
ISBN-10: 0151006040
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1 edition (April 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151006040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151006045
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on April 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is long over due! It has to be one of the most important books on female social behavior I've ever read.
Author Rachel Simmon's explains in graphic detail how boys tend to bully acquaintances or strangers but girls attack within tightly knit friendship networks, making aggression harder to identify and intensifying the damage to the victims so the impact can be felt well into adulthood.
Females fight with what is called "relational aggression": the silent treatment, exclusion, mean looks, rumor spreading, ganging up on a girl, manipulating relationships. In a girl's world, friendship is a weapon. A fist is weak when compared to the humiliation of a day of silence and rejection. There is no gesture more devastating than the back turning coldly away. Simmon offers advice on how to help young girls deal with this huge problem in our society.
My only real disappointment with this book is it assumes this vicious behavior stops when girls grow up and become women. This simply is not true. I know too many grown women who behave this way. My neighbor's behavior fits the definition of "relational aggression" to a `T' from the silent treatment and exclusion of her victims to the way she is overly concerned with her façade as a likable neighbor, wife, and mother. She is a wolf in lambs clothing. While the naïve decry school age girls as ruthless, I beg to differ, in adulthood, women are even worse, they are only more sophisticated at disguising their ruthless maneuvers.
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Format: Paperback
I read the first edition of Odd Girl Out about five years ago when my oldest daughter was in grade 4/5 and there were some real problems regarding bullying and power struggles amongst the girls in her year. While my daughter was not a direct target, nor a bully, it was a stressful time for her as two girls in particular aggressively manipulated the social hierarchy, girls switched alliances almost daily and the school seemed at a complete loss at how to deal with it. To help my daughter cope with the upheaval I read a number of books on the subject including Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls and Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence, both of which I also would recommend to parents and educators of girls.
I chose to read this revised edition because my oldest daughter is now fifteen and as an avid (ie constant) user of Facebook, MSN and various online social communities. Additionally my youngest daughter is now eight and an awareness of online social communities is beginning to creep into her consciousness. As such I was particularly interested in Simmons inclusion of the dynamics of cyber-bullying and how I might be able to help my daughters navigate this social arena.
The strength of Odd Girl Out is that it illustrates the experience of female bullying in a personal manner, with girls sharing their circumstances in their own words. I, like most women, recognised many of the methods girls use to control their social world.
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By A Customer on May 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The reviews already listed above on this book hit the nail right on the head. It is a very well written book. My 12 year old daughter and I have sat side by side and discussed it. She's enjoyed hearing about my own similar experiences as a little girl. I enjoyed openning her eyes to the hidden culture of the way girls tend to treat each other so that she would recognize it when she sees it directed to her.
The reason why I rated it 4 stars instead of 5 was because of my 1 disappointment. I wish the author had added a chapter about how to handle and come out a winner when you are the victim. It gives no advice on how to deflect the negative treatment, how to respond to it. How to basically shut the abusive treatment down so that the abuser can see that you know what she's doing and it's not going to work. I wish the author would come out with a second book on this topic.
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By A Customer on April 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I was never targeted in school, but both my sisters were. They've grown up to be covert bullies as a result. I guess they decided if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I've worked in offices with GROWN WOMEN who are displaying this emotional adolescent social dynamic. It's very disturbing because as much as I'd like to enjoy the company of women, I feel deeply distrustful of them. I think this book did a fine job of presenting this subject, except the author could have gone more into the fact that some girls never grow up and persist with this cliquish nightmare well into their 30's and 40's. I think, since the woman's movement is still relatively young, this is a transitional stage and soon, like artists, even traditional conservative women will bravely face the challenge to grow up and behave like evolved human adults instead of mean little schoolyard bullies. I wish I'd had this book to read long ago-it explained so much that no one talks about because of how invisible and insidious this behavior is. It's the victim that gets called bitter, oversensitive, and crazy. I hope every woman reads this so they won't role model this method of venting their aggressions to another generation of girls.
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