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Why Girls FightFemale Youth Violence in the Inner City$
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Cindy D. Ness

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814758403

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814758403.001.0001

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The Reasons Girls Give for Fighting

The Reasons Girls Give for Fighting

(p.69) 4 The Reasons Girls Give for Fighting
Why Girls Fight

Cindy D. Ness

NYU Press

This chapter considers the reasons that girls in the Melrose Park and Lee neighborhoods give for fighting, as well as what actually happens when they fight. It examines the “emotional logic” that underlies and organizes girls' thinking when they resort to physical violence and how it intersects with shared issues surrounding race, poverty, and social inequality. It also discusses the instrumental value of alliances into which girls enter with other girls to protect themselves against being physically assaulted or “rolled on” by a group of girls. It shows that many girls seem to think that making the first move in a fight is the best strategy, especially if they are not sure of how good of a fighter their opponent is. In other words, they strongly adhere to the idea of striking first, rather than take a wait-and-see attitude, before displaying their capacity to defend themselves. This chapter concludes with an analysis of the girls' use of weapons, from bat to knife, in street fights.

Keywords:   girls, street fights, emotional logic, physical violence, race, poverty, social inequality, weapons, Melrose Park neighborhood, Lee neighborhood

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