On the way to womanhood, what does a girl give up? For five years,
Lyn Mikel Brown and Carol Gilligan, asking this question, listened
to one hundred girls who were negotiating the rough terrain of
adolescence. This book invites us to listen, too, and to hear in
these girls' voices what is rarely spoken, often ignored, and
generally misunderstood: how the passage out of girlhood is a
journey into silence, disconnection, and dissembling, a troubled
crossing that our culture has plotted with dead ends and detours.
In the course of their research, Brown and Gilligan developed a
Listener's Guide - a method of following the pathways of girls'
thoughts and feelings, of distinguishing what girls are saying by
the way they say it. We witness the struggle girls undergo as they
enter adolescence only to find that what they feel and think and
know can no longer be said directly. We see them at a cultural
impasse, and listen as they make the painful, necessary
adjustments, outspokenness giving way to circumspection,
self-knowledge to uncertainty, authority to compliance. These
changes mark the edge of adolescence as a watershed in women's
psychological development, a time of wrenching disjunctions between
body and psyche, voice and desire, self and relationship. Brown and
Gilligan open their method to us and share their discoveries as
they encourage girls at different ages to speak about themselves in
conversation with women. They follow some of these girls over time,
listening to changes in their distinct voices from one year to the
next, addressing their successes and failures as they confront one
barrier after another. This groundbreaking work offers major new
insights into girls' development and women's psychology. But
perhaps more importantly, it provides women with the means of
meeting girls at the critical crossroads of adolescence, of
harkening to the voices of girlhood and sustaining their
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