Getting Played: African American Girls, Urban Inequality, and Gendered Violence

By Jody Miller | Go to book overview

2
Gender 'n the 'Hood
Neighborhood Violence against
Women and Girls

For adolescents in disadvantaged urban communities, neighborhoods represent a major feature of social life. Youths congregate on the streets and in parks, and they cruise around in cars or on foot, socializing and playing music. In some cases, they also sell drugs, fight, and defend their neighborhood or gang territories. These activities, however, are deeply gendered. Young men are more often and more intensely involved in delinquent networks in their communities. And though adolescent girls and boys sometimes share their involvement in the social facets of neighborhoods, their participation often presents different kinds of risks for victimization and thus results in variations in the enactment of strategies to ensure their safety and well-being. In addition, because of the gendered meaning systems that guide interpretation and behavior, violence against women takes on distinctive features in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and these are ultimately detrimental to young women's well-being.

In chapter i, I provided a general overview of youths' descriptions of their neighborhoods, including some notable variations across gender. Most striking is the extent to which youth described neighborhood dangers as both commonplace and ordinary. In addition, girls' and boys' descriptions suggest that these action spaces are male dominated, as evidenced by boys' greater participation in and awareness of the nuances of neighborhood conflicts. Here I consider some additional features of male domination in neighborhoods by examining the problem of gender-based violence.

Urban disadvantage has important gendered dimensions. This is certainly evident in research on the urban street world, where researchers have provided consistent and extensive evidence of the salience and institutionalization of gender inequality, including violence against

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