This book explores the social, cultural, and psychological components of female violence in inner-city neighborhoods on a collective level, as well as the responses to those structuring conditions on an individual level. In order to understand both the psychological and social worlds of violent girls, the author spent almost two years “hanging out” with girls in Melrose Park and Lee, two impoverished urban neighborhoods in Philadelphia. This book examines the reasons why female adolescents in such areas so readily engage in street fights and other forms of physical violence. It considers the instrumental and symbolic value that physical aggression, particularly street fighting, has for girls in inner cities. The text argues that street fighting in poor urban enclaves is not simply a “telltale” sign of individual emotional pathology, but part of carrying out girlhood, and that the girls' relationship to physical aggression is shaped by different cultural standards and social realities associated with race and class. The book also discusses the motivations and experiences of girls involved in the criminal justice system.
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