What does this reading teach you about how adolescent girls deal with relationships? Is their research still relevant today?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Because the research in Meeting at the Crossroads by Lyn Mikel Brown and Carol Gilligan focuses so closely on the stories of individual girls and their experiences, it is still relevant today. Even though statistics and some external circumstances change, any in-depth study of individuals reveals something about how humans react to external social pressures.

The most important element of the study is the way it shows how girls respond to peer pressure as they enter adolescence. It is no less true today than when this book was written that young girls feel a need to change their behaviors and even their bodies in an environment where female social success is determined by sexual attractiveness as much or even more than by real achievements whether in sports, academics, or creative pursuits. This affects not just romantic relationships, but friendships and relationships with family members, peers, and teachers.

Brown and Gilligan are especially astute in their description of how this urge to conformity leads girls to self-censor and internalize the disempowering ideology of "niceness". Sheryl Sandberg's recent book Lean In discusses how this internalized "niceness" is still an obstacle to women who want to get ahead in the workplace. 


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