Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection among Girls

By Lyn Mikel Brown | Go to book overview

2
Good Girls and Real Boys
Preparing the Ground in Early Childhood

Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are
not cute. They are life-sized. —Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye

WHEN MY DAUGHTER MAYA was about three and a half, she announced that she wanted to be a boy. “Why?” I asked, scrambling for trace memories of Freud's Oedipal complex. (Now how does it work for girls?) “Because they're everywhere,” she replied with the complete and utter certainty of her age. We were looking at a Sesame Street Parent's Magazine, and she began purposefully flipping through the pages, pointing out characters and advertisements. “Boy, boy, boy,” she began. “Girl, girl, girl,” I countered, although clearly she had me beat. Finally, filled with an urgent need to prove her point, she turned to a “Got Milk” ad—a full-page spread of a young actor in a resplendent white milk mustache. “And him,” she said. “I see him everywhere. What is he, a country?”

The clarity of my daughter's observations caught me off guard. It wasn't that she was so precocious—they were talking about countries in her multiage Montessori class and what she took from that lesson was simply that countries were really big. And it was not surprising that, at three, she would be thinking about gender. This is the age when kids first begin sorting through differences on all fronts, gender and race included. What struck me most deeply was the way she had classified gender differences along power lines. She wanted to be a boy because she had noticed something special about boys—they were everywhere and they were bigger than life. In her concrete childhood terms, she had named her social reality and also her own desire to be at the

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Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection among Girls
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - Bad Girls, Bad Girls, Whatcha Gonna Do? 1
  • 1: Reading the Culture of Girlfighting 11
  • 2: Good Girls and Real Boys 36
  • 3: Playing It like a Girl 67
  • 4: Dancing Through the Minefield 99
  • 5: Patrolling the Borders 135
  • 6: From Girlfighting to Sisterhood 175
  • 7: This Book is an Action 199
  • Appendix 229
  • Notes 233
  • References 243
  • Index 255
  • About the Author 259
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