Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection among Girls

By Lyn Mikel Brown | Go to book overview

3
Playing It Like a Girl
Later Childhood and Preadolescence

I'm standing outside the closed door of Cordelia's room.… They're
having a meeting. The meeting is about me. I am just not measuring
up, although they are giving me every chance. I have to do better, but
better at what? … From behind the closed door comes the indistinct
murmur of voices, of laughter, exclusive and luxurious.… “You can
come in now,” says the voice of Cordelia from inside the room.

—Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye

BY ALL VISIBLE ACCOUNTS, I lived in a great neighborhood—there were tons of kids my age. We had the freedom to run and explore that so many small-town kids had before fears of kidnappers and child molesters took root in our collective imagination. Neighborhood games of freeze tag or red-rover or hide and seek went on well after dark until, in some loosely predictable fashion, our parents called us in for baths and bed.

But the layer beneath the visible was more complicated. There were Lisa and her cousin Charlotte and then there was me, a late-arriving and unrelated interloper. There were also Jackie and Cindy and Tracy, but somehow they were not on my radar screen in quite the same way. It was Lisa and Charlotte I coveted. And so, for reasons that were never quite clear to me, I clung with all my might to the tenuous threads of a triangle that shifted allegiances daily. I knew only that I was tertiary, except of course when Charlotte and Lisa fought with each other—then I was sought after with a vengeance. But I knew deep down that much as I wanted and needed them, I would never reach the secure status of best friend. I was nine-year-old Elaine behind the door in Atwood's novel

-67-

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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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