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Raising Their Voices:
Girls in our culture learn early to be self-effacing and pleasant, greeting the arrival of adolescence with an accommodating smile. Right? Perhaps not. In Raising Their Voices, author Lyn Mikel Brown, with Carol Gilligan (of the groundbreaking book on girls' psychology Meeting at the Crossroads), confronts the image of "passivity, depression, negative body-image and eating disorders, low self-esteem, and indirect expressions of feelings" perpetuated by recent psychological and sociological research on teen girls. In a year of meeting with groups of girls in two Maine communities--one primarily working-class, one middle- and upper-middle-class--Brown engages the young women in discussions about their relationships, their feelings, and the expectations they have begun to sense around being female.
The book, liberally seasoned with the girls' rowdy, clever, conflicted talk, reveals a vast difference between the role-stereotype pressure on working-class girls and their middle- class counterparts, and offers the news that all girls do not simply acquiesce to the constrictions of American culture, nor, if given the right support, do they need to. Brown exhorts adults, particularly women, to allow girls their voices, and to suggest to them, as she does, "the possibility, even under the most oppressive of conditions, for creative refusal and resistance." This book offers valuable insight and tools for the parents, teachers, and mentors of young women. --Maria Dolan [via]