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NCJ Number: 191909 Find in a Library
Title: Accomplishing Femininity Among the Girls in the Gang
Journal: British Journal of Criminology  Volume:41  Issue:4  Dated:Autumn 2001  Pages:656-678
Author(s): Karen Joe Laidler; Geoffrey Hunt
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 23
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This study examined the meanings, expressions, and paradoxes of femininity as they are understood and experienced by Latina, African-American, and Asian-Pacific American female gang members.
Abstract: The analysis was based on in-depth interviews with 141 gang members as part of a long-term study (1990-present) of youth gangs in the San Francisco Bay Area. The women interviewed were members of one of 44 gangs. The analysis of the interviews examined the girls' construction of femininity as they interacted with family, other girls and young women, and with the males in their lives. A persistent theme throughout the analysis was the value the girls placed on respect. In these interactional arenas, "reputation" was one of the most salient markers of their identity as young women, to the point that they would resort to violence to defend their status and honor. Respondents' experiences suggest that there were a number of reasons for "acting bad" and for engaging in violence. To some extent, "looking bad," as opposed to "being bad," is a protective strategy within the patriarchal environment at home and on the street. It was also a defense mechanism for coping with their "emotional vulnerability and perpetual disappointment." It was also a form of resistance to informal controls on their attempts to explore adolescence and femininity, as well as for demonstrating a sense of power in an environment that provides them with little status. Contrary to the view that gang girls constantly engage in the construction of a "bad ass" image, this study suggests that the achievement of femininity occurs through interaction with others and is based largely, but not exclusively, on acting and being respectable. 1 table and 54 references
Main Term(s): Female juvenile delinquents
Index Term(s): California; Female gangs; Female sex roles; Gang violence; Gender issues; Juvenile gang behavior patterns
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