Women's reliance on intimate bonds with their female friends is legendary, propelling some of most popular contemporary books and television series from Bridget Jones's Diary to Sex and the City. Alas, as many women learn the hard way, the process of growing up is riddled with social landmines far too many of which are maliciously planted by our own girlfriends. With a nod to Mary Pipher's groundbreaking work in Reviving Ophelia (which examined depression, anorexia, and other painful and harmful sideeffects of that girls experience at puberty), Odd Girl Out looks at the little discussed problem of aggression by girls toward girls. Unlike the more overt and physical bullying that boys can suffer, many adolescent girls are victim to a different kind of bullying that can be far more insidious, covert, and psychologically brutal. Rachel Simmons offers understanding and advice to mothers, teachers, and girls themselves. This is a wonderful and much needed book. Georgie, Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A leading authority draws on new research to explain why the adolescent years are so developmentally crucial, and what we must do to raise happier, more successful kids.
Adolescence now lasts longer than ever before. And as world-renowned expert on adolescent psychology Dr. Laurence Steinberg argues, this makes these years the key period in determining individuals’ life outcomes, demanding that we change the way we parent, educate, and understand young people.
In Age of Opportunity, Steinberg leads readers through a host of new findings — including groundbreaking original research — that reveal what the new timetable of adolescence means for parenting 13-year-olds (who may look more mature than they really are) versus 20-somethings (who may not be floundering even when it looks like they are). He also explains how the plasticity of the adolescent brain, rivaling that of years 0 through 3, suggests new strategies for instilling self-control during the teenage years. Packed with useful knowledge, Age of Opportunity is a sweeping book in the tradition of Reviving Ophelia, and an essential guide for parents and educators of teenagers.
"Bolstered with numerous revealing anecdotes and quotes, Odd Girl Out does an excellent job of articulating to adults exactly the pain and subtle warfare that many teen girls experience, and Simmons offers thoughtful motivations for both bullies and the parents who are reluctant to rein them in. She also offers admirable, groundbreaking insight into an all-too-common issue and will be invaluable to any adult struggling to help a girl get through her teens." Gillian Engberg, Booklist
"This is the book we have been waiting for. It's a wakeup call to all of us who care deeply about girls' development. Simmons has given voice to the girls who struggle every day with friendships. She has uncovered a hidden world of aggression that unfolds behind adults' backs." Susan Wellman, president of the Ophelia Project
"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
When boys act out, get into fights, or become physically aggressive, we can't avoid noticing their bad behavior. But it is easy to miss the subtle signs of aggression in girls--the dirty looks, the taunting notes, or the exclusion from the group-that send girls home crying.
In Odd Girl Out, Rachel Simmons focuses on these interactions and provides language for the indirect aggression that runs through the lives and friendships of girls. These exchanges take place within intimate circles--the importance of friends and the fear of losing them is key. Without the cultural consent to express their anger or to resolve their conflicts, girls express their aggression in covert but damaging ways. Every generation of women can tell stories of being bullied, but Odd Girl Out explores and explains these experiences for the first time.
Journalist Rachel Simmons sheds light on destructive patterns that need our attention. With advice for girls, parents, teachers, and even school administrators, Odd Girl Out is a groundbreaking work that every woman will agree is long overdue.
REVISED AND UPDATED
WITH NEW MATERIAL ON CYBERBULLYING AND
HELPING GIRLS HANDLE THE DANGERS OF LIFE ONLINE
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 this updated 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 as brand new classroom initiatives and step-by-step parental suggestions for dealing with conventional bullying. With up-to-the-minute research and real-life stories, Odd Girl Out continues to be the definitive resource on the most pressing social issues facing girls today.
READING GROUP GUIDE AND TEACHERS GUIDE available at www.marinnerreadersguides.com
Dirty looks and taunting notes are just a few examples of girl bullying that girls and women have long suffered through silently and painfully. With this book Rachel Simmons elevated the nation's consciousness and has shown millions of girls, parents, counselors, and teachers how to deal with this devastating problem. Poised to reach a wider audience in paperback, including the teenagers who are its subject, Odd Girl Out
puts the spotlight on this issue, using real-life examples from both the perspective of the victim and of the bully.
The world's leading authority on adolescence presents original new research that explains, as no one has before, how this stage of life has changed and how to steer teenagers through its risks and toward its rewards.
About the Author
LAURENCE STEINBERG, Ph.D. is one of the world’s leading experts on adolescence. He is Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at Temple University, in Philadelphia. Dr. Steinberg is the author of more than 350 articles and essays on development during the teenage years, and the author or editor of fourteen books, including You and Your Adolescent, The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting, Beyond the Classroom, and Adolescence, the leading college textbook on the subject. He has been a featured guest on numerous television programs, including CBS Morning News, Today, Good Morning America, 20/20, Dateline, PBS News Hour, and The Oprah Winfrey Show, and is a frequent consultant on adolescence for print and electronic media, including the New York Times and NPR. He has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, and Psychology Today. A graduate of Vassar College and Cornell University, Dr. Steinberg is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Psychological Association, and the Association for Psychological Science.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls 15
Chapter Two: Intimate Enemies 39
Chapter Three: The Truth Hurts 67
Chapter Four: Bff 2.0: Cyberbullying and Cyberdrama 103
Chapter Five: Shes All That 145
Chapter Six: The Bully in the Mirror 171
Chapter Seven: Popular 197
Chapter Eight: Resistance 219
Chapter Nine: Parents Speak 245
Chapter Ten: Helping Her through Drama, Bullying, and Everything in Between 269
Chapter Eleven: Raising Girls in a Digital Age 313
Chapter Twelve: The Road Ahead for Educators and Administrators 335
About The Book 397
About The Author 399
Discussion Questions 401
Tips To Further Enhance Your Reading of Odd Girl Out 405
Reading Group Guide
Q> More than once in the Introduction to Odd Girl Out, author Rachel Simmons refers to her book as a "journey." What kind(s) of journey-taking is she suggesting? And what sort of journey did you, as a reader, experience? Where did this book take you? Someplace new? Someplace familiar? Both? Explain. Q> Simmons bases much if not most of her data in Odd Girl Out on interviews and visits she conducted over a one-year period with girls from ten different American schools. As a class, identify, describe, and discuss these schools. Which school is most like your own-and how so? Which is least like your own-and why? Q> Near the beginning of Chapter Three, Simmons writes: "Girls don't have to bully [to] alienate and injure their peers...The word bullying couldn't be more wrong in describing what some girls do to hurt one another." Why does the author find this term inadequate? What other term(s) would you use instead? In addressing these queries as a class, reflect on both your own experiences and the idea of "alternate aggressions" (which is explored throughout this book). Q> Look again at the Ideal Girl/Anti-Girl chart that Simmons helps a group of girls at a leadership workshop compose in Chapter Four. As a class, create your own such chart, with everyone contributing traits and qualities for each of these two types. Then compare and contrast the chart your class made with the one appearing in Chapter Four. What lessons can you draw from looking at these two charts side-by-side? Q> In presenting a book that names, studies, and categorizes "the hidden culture of aggression in girls," Simmons often looks back on her own girlhood experiences to make a point, provide a detail, or give an example. Nowhere is this more evident than in Chapter Five ("The Bully in the Mirror"). Explore the memories Simmons shares with us about her friends Anne and Jenny. What regrets does she express concerning these relationships, and-despite these regrets, or maybe because of them-what wisdom does Simmons pass on to us? Where else in the book do we see the author uncovering truths that can be applied to all girls by revealing certain truths about her own girlhood? Q> As a class, discuss Chapter Six ("Popular"). In particular, consider the connections-both explicit and implicit-that might be made between popularity and deception. Q> Reread the section in Chapter Eight called "When Cultures Collide." Then, talk openly and candidly with your classmates about moments of alternative aggression that you have experienced with girls of an ethnicity or race different from your own. Do your experiences-or those of any of your classmates-reflect those of Jasmine? Ntozake? Tiffany? Jacqueline? Anyone else in Chapter Eight? How so? Q> In Chapter Nine, Simmons "offer[s] strategies to combat alternative aggression, including new directions for policy making and teaching. Most of the suggestions came directly from the parents, school officials, and survivors of bullying" Simmons met during her research. Reviewing these strategies as a class, point out which ones seem most realistic, helpful, and workable. Why do the strategies you have thus chosen seem viable? That is, what is it that makes these particular strategies seem convincing and effective to you? Q> In her Conclusion, Simmons writes: "Most of the behaviors mapped out in this book-nonverbal gesturing, ganging up, behind-the-back talking, rumor spreading, the Survivor-like exiling of cliques, note passing, the silent treatment, nice-in-private and mean-in-public friends-are fueled by the lack of face-to-face confrontations." As an independent project, write a short essay in which you describe a key moment in your life when you stood up to someone face-to-face-or else write about a time when you wish you could-or would-have stood up to someone. Q> Take a fresh and creative approach to what you have learned, about yourself and about all girls and young women, from Odd Girl Out. As a direct and honest response to this book, communicate your own ideas and impressions about girl bullying in a short story-or else express them in a poem, depict them in a drawing or painting, or set them to music. Remember to include in your creation the feelings and notions (and memories?) that came to you while reading this book. Be prepared to share your work of art with your classmates.
Copyright (c) 2003. Published in the U.S. by Harcourt, Inc. Reading Group Guide prepared by Scott Pitcock