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Odd Girl Out, Revised and Updated: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls Paperback – August 3, 2011
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"There 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
From the Back Cover
REVISED AND UPDATED
WITH NEW MATERIAL ON CYBERBULLYING AND
HELPING GIRLS HANDLE THE DANGERS OF LIFE ONLINE
"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 middle schools and high schools." San Francisco Chronicle
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 thisupdated 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 asbrand new classroom initiatives and step-by-step parental suggestions for dealing with conventional bullying. Withup-to-the-minute research andreal-life stories, OddGirl Out continues to be the definitive resource on the most pressing social issues facing girls today.
"Passionate and beautifully written. A significant contribution to our understanding of the psychology of girls." Michael Thompson, co-author of Raising Cain
"Cathartic to any teen or parent trying to find company." Detroit Free Press
An American School Board Journal Notable Book in Education
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.
Reading guide and teacher's guideavailable at www.hmhbooks.com.
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This is revised and updated from the 2002 edition.
Rachel Simmons' Odd Girl Out helped open up a mostly hidden world for me, a dad and 22 year teacher. Sure, I have lots of experience dealing with kids, but I was missing some of this subtle meanness because I am a guy and the minds of most guys just don't work this way.
Since Simmons completed her original work she has become a teacher and she can now add the perspective of an outsider to the tone of her original book which was based on a series of interviews with girls from around the country in a variety of schools. The basic concept of the book is that girls bully one another in a way that goes under the radar in schools and at home. Unlike the overt taunting and physical violence that often happens in male bullying, girl bullying is more sly and includes such actions as shunning, sharing secrets, building alliances of friends against other girls and more.
Simmons provides personal stories that illustrate her points - these are the product of hours and hours of interviews with groups of girls and individuals and even her own experiences (she was bullied - an experience she vividly remembered and she also participated in a bullying, an experience she had forgotten, but was vividly remembered by her victim). The book is immensely readable and tragically depressing - it is the most profound and the saddest book I have read this year. It has given me more clarity on the experiences of my daughter and of the girls in my classroom.
While these actions are not nearly as visible as overt classical male-type bullying, they can be just as devastating because the very people that these girls trust the most end up betraying them. Simmons includes a helpful "What to do if..." type guide for parents and for teachers that is organized by topic.
Simmons and I disagree as to the root causes for this style of bullying. She consistently blames American culture's expectations for how "good girls" behave which means that aggression and disagreement are shunted into less overt channels because good girls do not argue, do not fight and do not bring up unpleasant topics of conversation. That may well be true, but the only way to determine it would be to undertake research like she has done here in other cultures. She thinks she has done this by looking at Hispanic and African American girls in a couple of schools, but as a teacher who has spent half of my career in urban school districts, I think she has missed the mark on that one. I think that it may be more of an innate thing in girls. In some girls, the need to keep a relationship, even a hurtful one, may be more important than the need to live without fear. Of course, my thoughts also would need to be proven in cross-cultural studies.
Regardless, this book is a must-read for parents, teachers and administrators.
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. With hindsight, the daily drama of school seem mostly petty and irrelevant but I do still remember the intensity of the emotion that surrounded playground machinations - the agony of being dumped by a best friend, the desire to be popular, and like most I have been both a victim and perpetrator (though largely an unwitting one)of the type of bullying and aggression Simmons examines. Odd Girl Out is a reminder of the seriousness with which girls interact with their peers.
The new chapter that addresses cyber bullying/drama is interesting and I think is full of useful information, especially for parents who are not familiar with technology. I am a net-savvy parent who uses social media and have discussed the issues with my daughter but I know she doesn't see the consequences of a casual status update or online flirting the same way as I do, which is highlighted by the stories shared in this chapter. Later on in the book, Simmons discusses strategies for managing media in the lives of girls in practical ways, this chapter is particularly useful and as I am trying to walk the line between keeping an eye on my teenager's online activities without invading her social privacy too much, I found it informative and encouraging.
The focus of Odd Girl Out tends to be on girls aged 11-13 and in particular those whose experiences are at the extremes of the issue but nevertheless I think it has relevance for those involved in any setting where girls aged 8 to 16 interact. Simmons grounds the research, giving the experiences of young girls, and the lasting effects, credibility and for a parent (or educator) I think it can provide a vocabulary for discussion and investigation.