Ruth D. Peterson
In Getting Played, Jody Miller has once again offered up an eye-opening investigation of young women's lives and vulnerabilities. In her earlier book, One of the Guys, she enlightened us about fundamental processes related to girls' entry into and participation in gangs. This time, the subjects of Miller's research are perhaps the most understudied population in the field of criminology: African American girls, more specifically African American girls who reside in one of the poorest sections of St. Louis, Missouri. When such girls are the focus of criminological research, it is usually from the point of view of explaining their participation in delinquency or other problematic behaviors. Getting Played takes a decidedly different approach. Here, Miller focuses on girls' victimization and the embeddedness of such victimization in the everyday lives of these youths, with all that this means for discovering and bringing the reader face to face with a host of unpleasant realities. These critical choices (of topic and population) take us to a story of how intersections of gender, race, class, and place are at the center of girls' lives and experiences.
First, and most notably, Miller grabs readers' attention with the stark reality of the widespread occurrence of violent victimization among the girls she studies. Such violence ranges from what some would regard as mild forms of harassment (sexual and gender-based) to striking and heart-wrenching incidents of gang rape and repeated violent assaults. Indeed, one is hard-pressed at times to contain tears and felt-rage in the wake of descriptions of the worst cases of the violence perpetrated against young women. Such victimizations seem even sadder because they come at the hands of boys (and men) who are “friends” and family
Ruth D. Peterson is Distinguished Professor of Social and Behavioral Science at The Ohio
State University, Columbus, Ohio.