Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection among Girls

By Lyn Mikel Brown | Go to book overview

4
Dancing through the Minefield
The Middle School Years

The Elephant then said, “Daughter of the dragon, I too am under a
spell. I know how it may be broken—but I choose to live as a
changeling.” … “When the times are a crucible, when the air is full of
crisis,” she said, “those who are the most themselves are the victims.”

—Gregory Maguire, Wicked: The Life and Times of
the Wicked Witch of the West

I WAS LYING in my parents' hammock reading, when my thirteenyear-old niece ran up and threw an open copy of Seventeen Magazine in my lap. “Look!” she said, disgust in her voice. The word “slut” jumped off the page in large, hot pink letters. The picture of a girl confronted me, her head tilted to one side as she gazed directly, pensively, into the camera. Her long blonde hair brushed her shoulders, her white T-shirt branded her “X-girl.” Beside her, two girls of color, dressed in dark retro clothes and black sneakers, stood together, furtively checking her out. The article's title continued: “What's with that word? What does it really mean? And why are so many girls using it against one another?”

The article was by Peggy Orenstein, author of Schoolgirls, a wonderful ethnography of early adolescence. “Wow, Jen,” I said. “I bet this is good.” “No,” she said, “This!” She flipped the page and I felt her distress. The camera had panned out, clicked again; I saw the scene from another angle; a boy was standing behind X-girl, leering at her; the other girls were now staring openly, their arms crossed. “Explain yourself,” they seemed to say.

I scanned the open magazine page and it hit me. In fact, it wasn't the article that had Jen upset, but a Converse ad on the opposite page.

-99-

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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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