Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Read Elsewhere: Odd Girl Out

"Girls describe their social communities as worlds in which unresolved conflicts hang like leaking gas in the air, creating a treacherous emotional terrain in which discord is rarely voiced and yet may explode silently with the slightest spark.  For many, if not most, girls, every day can be unpredictable. Alliances shift with whispers under cover of girlish intimacy and play. Many girls will not tell each other why they are sad or angry. Instead, they will employ small armies of mediators, usually willing friends who are uncomfortably caught in the middle or eager for moments of intimacy that result from lending a hand to someone in trouble.

Alternative aggressions, and the nonassertive behavior they suggest, are as embedded in the daily lives of girls as makeup, boys, and media. A girl learns early on that to voice conflict directly with another girl may result in many others ganging up against her. She learns to channel feelings of hurt and anger to avoid their human instigator, internalizing feelings or sharing them with others. She learns to store away unresolved conflicts with the precision of a bookkeeper, building a stockpile that increasingly crowds her emotional landscape and social choices. She learns to connect with conflict through the discord of others, participating in group acts of aggression where individual ones have been forbidden."

"Our culture has made truth telling and anger, indeed, everything that is "not nice," feel very wrong to girls. We have been taught that the right answer is the one that hurts the least. As Brown and Gilligan have shown us, it is critical that girls learn how to expose their most uncomfortable feelings to 'the air and the light of relationship.' For at the core of us are natural feelings of anger and desire, the messy, uncomfortable truths that make us, our relationships, our friends and lovers, imperfect.

Denying those feelings locks us away from ourselves and so from authentic relationships with others. Denying those feelings doesn't make them go away but somewhere else, leaving the people around us unsure of what we mean, who we are, and how we feel."

-from the book Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons

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