A perceived rise in girls' physical aggression is alarming the public as it collides with dominant views of femininity. Existing research focuses on either boys' violence or girls' non-physical aggression, leaving the realm of girls' physical aggression relatively unexplored. Using data from ethnographic observations and interviews, this study examines young adolescent girls' experience of their and their peers' fighting. Findings indicate that girls participate in fights to stand up for themselves and others, to show they are not afraid, and for fun. This study calls for continued in-depth research into girls' perspectives on aggression and violence in order to provide insight into how gendered, raced, and classed structures affect girls. It seeks, too, to address the problems that arise from girls fighting.
Adolescent Girls Speak about Girls' Aggression
Melissa K. Levy
Sexuality, Violence, and the Body (Politic) in Richard III
Building on Katherine Schaap Williams’s (2009) reading of the play, this article uses a disability studies approach to consider Richard Loncraine’s 1995 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard III. Loncraine’s adaptation allows modern-day viewers to experience a highly visual (and often intimate) exchange with Sir Ian McKellen as Richard Gloucester. Specifically, Gloucester’s verbal claims of a disability that renders him unsuitable as a leader and a lack of sexual prowess are juxtaposed alongside sexually violent visual actions and imagery—particularly in the form of phallic symbols. The juxtaposition of verbal passivity in opposition to visual aggression demonstrates how Richard showcases or hides his disability as he pursues the throne: the first half of the film features Richard masquerading ability, while the second half features him masquerading disability.
Girlhood Identity in The Craft
The teen horror film The Craft (1996) has remained a cult classic with girl audiences for two decades. Scholarship about the film has focused on its negative representation of girls’ friendships, sexuality, and desire for power. In this article, I honor the significance of girl culture by accounting for The Craft’s appeal to girl audiences. I argue that The Craft’s relevance to girls arises from its subversion of teen film tropes. The Craft explores adolescent girls’ fear of isolation by depicting a mentally ill teenager who draws strength and happiness from the company of her friends, and becomes depressed when they oust her. By flouting the imperative for adolescent girl protagonists to be white, middle-class, mentally healthy, and normatively bodied, The Craft portrays girls’ desire for understanding over the pursuit of so-called popularity, girls’ anger arising from marginalization, and girls’ exploiting of friendship as a weapon.
Exploring Female Violence, Self-management, and ADHD
Hanna Bertilsdotter Rosqvist and Linda Arnell
In this article, we explore how young women in Sweden negotiate their gendered subject positions in relation to psychiatric diagnoses, particularly Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and the meanings of their own violent acts. The data consists of transcripts of face-to-face interviews with young women who have experienced using aggressive and violent acts. Given that the analysis is informed by ideas developed in discursive psychology, we identified the centrality of the concepts of responsibility and self-management. In this study responsibility is connected to gendered notions of passivity and activity. What we call the ordinary girl is neither too active nor too passive, and the extraordinary girl is either too active or too passive in the managing of herself. Similar to those of a troublesome past, the narratives of ADHD enable the understanding of an intelligible violent self, and therefore make female externalized violence what we describe as narrative-able.
Dafna Lemish and Shiri Reznik
This study explores gender differences in the roles of humor in the lives of Israeli children. Thirty-four Jewish middle-class Israeli children, sixteen girls and eighteen boys, aged between eight to ten years, were interviewed in focus groups in which they discussed a variety of humorous video segments, jokes, and everyday humor. The analysis suggests that humor in interaction is a highly gendered process in this age group and is employed differently by boys and girls to perform their gendered identities. Girls engaged much less in sexist and aggressive humor and clearly used it to maintain their separateness from boys and younger children. We conclude that humor provides us with another avenue through which to unveil the complicated processes of gender construction in pre-adolescent childhood, while demonstrating at the same time the ambivalence and complexity involved in these processes.
Based on film examples and evolutionary psychology, this article discusses why viewers are fascinated not only with funny and pleasure-evoking films, but also with sad and disgust-evoking ones. This article argues that although the basic emotional mechanisms are made to avoid negative experiences and approach pleasant ones, a series of adaptations modify such mechanisms. Goal-setting in narratives implies that a certain amount of negative experiences are gratifying challenges, and comic mechanisms make it possible to deal with negative social emotions such as shame. Innate adaptations make negative events fascinating because of the clear survival value, as when children are fascinated by stories about loss of parental attachment. Furthermore, it seems that the interest in tragic stories ending in death is an innate adaptation to reaffirm social attachment by the shared ritual of sadness, often linked to acceptance of group living and a tribal identity.
Mofeyisara Oluwatoyin Omobowale, Offiong Esop Akpabio and Olukemi Kehinde Amodu
Masculinity, as an identity signifier along gender lines, varies from one society to another. The nature, definition, and expression of masculinity (dominance, oppression, violence, and aggression) through social interactions may breed bullying, as found in the Agbowo community of Ibadan, Nigeria. The data for the study were collected through mixed methods and revealed that patriarchal constructed masculinity allows for hegemonic dominance, aggression, oppression, and violent acts that foster bullying among adolescent males in Agbowo. Hence, to address bullying-related problems among adolescents, an understanding of the societal context in which it is carried out is required.
Teen Girls Negotiating Discourses of Competitive, Heterosexualized Aggression
In this paper I explore the themes of heterosexualized competition and aggression in Avril Lavigne's music video Girlfriend (2007) as representative of the violent heterosexualized politics within which girls are incited to compete in contemporary schooling and popular culture. I argue that psycho-educational discourses attempting to explain girls' aggression and bullying fail to account for the heterosexualized, classed or racialized power dynamics of social competition that organize heteronormative femininity. Then I elaborate a psychosocial approach using psychoanalytic concepts to trace how teen girls negotiate contemporary discourses of sexual aggression and competition. Drawing on findings from a study with racially and economically marginalized girls aged thirteen to fourteen attending an innercity school in South Wales, I suggest that the girls enact regulatory, classed discourses like slut to manage performances of heterosexualized aggression. However, alongside their demonstration of the impetus toward sexual regulation of one another, I show how the girls in my study are also attempting to challenge heteronormative formations of performing sexy-aggressive. Moments of critical resistance in their narratives, when they refuse to pathologize aggressive girls as mean and/or bullies, and in their fantasies, when they reject heterosexual relationships like marriage are explored.
Steven Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature defends Norbert Elias’s “civilization thesis”: the idea that violence has declined gradually in human societies over the millennia. As history, however, Pinker’s defense is flawed. First, the data gathered by historians do not show long-term declines in individual or collective violence. Second, the historical forces that Pinker believes have suppressed violence can also increase violence, depending on historical conditions. And third, neurology, endocrinology, and primatology may contribute more in the long run than evolutionary psychology to the understanding of the history of human aggression.
This article explores Pinker’s analysis of sexual violence in modern history. It argues that his analysis is flawed because of a selective choice of data, a minimization of certain harms, the application of an evolutionary psychology approach, the failure to interrogate new forms of aggression, and a refusal to acknowledge the political underpinnings of his research. By failing to acknowledge and then control for his own ideological bias, Pinker has missed an opportunity to convincingly explain the changing nature of violence in our societies.