Excerpted from Lyn Mikel Brown's article on Dangerous Books for Girls. The full article can be found to the right. Please share your comments!
Feminist psychologists have amassed ample evidence that conventional femininity is bad for girls--all girls. Using their Feminine Ideology Scale, for example, Deborah Tolman and her colleagues find that internalizing conventional femininity ideologies of the very passive and disembodied "nature" that the Matthews teachers., with all good intentions, desire and instruct is associated with poor mental health for early adolescent girls. Girls who uncritically internalize these messages are more likely to be depressed and to have lower self-esteem.
Enter two popular books, Wendy Shalit's Girls Gone Mild and Louann Brizendine's The Female Brain, to tell us just what proper means and why we should accept, even celebrate it. Shalit champions a purported new girl movement away from sexy and toward "traditional family values", while Brizendine tries to establish a causal link between brain and gender differences. While they appear to have little in common, these books share a similar set of assumptions about the intrinsic worth and the salvation of conventional femininity.
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