A Male Student
in Robert Walls'

After reading the book, SchoolGirls, I can honestly say I've gained an increased awareness of what girls have to deal with in our society. I knew of many problems faced by girls already; such as how boys treat them and the double standard society and family applies to girls. These are observations I found to be true growing up in a male dominated world. Any person with a moderate amount of common sense would realize these problems exist. On the other hand, a book such as this, written from a girls point of view, brings to light many of the taboo issues women must face. I never realized how much I took for granted the freedoms I receive simply because I am a male.

While reading this book I found that girls, collectively, seem to have a very low self-esteem. A major reason that they due suffer from this lack of self-esteem is because a girl's pride comes from mostly her looks. In boys this is sometimes the case, but almost never is it such an integral part of their personality as it is in a girl's. Boys take their talents and other positive aspects of themselves and pride themselves in them. They are less likely to be permanently affected by another person's opinion of them. They are more interested in being happy with themselves than trying to make others happy with themselves. For girls this is the exact opposite. They depend on the input of others to feel better about themselves. This is of course as Mr. Walls so likes to put it, "Speaking in generalities." This seems to be the best way in this case to find out how a great many girls behave and why.

Sexual harassment is another taboo issue tackled in the book. Derogatory comments, gestures, and improper touching all are considered sexual harassment. From the research the author does, I can tell girls have to deal with this much more than boys do. I agree with her conclusions totally. I think boys are the ones who invented this in the first place. They practice it and use it as a sign of power. Can they make a girl look bad while making themselves look good in front of everyone? I notice that boys rarely make fun of these same girls if they are alone. This behavior is learned from peers and used to gain attention. It can be learned from a child's family life. For instance, if a mom stays with an abusive husband (either mental or physical) because she doesn't want to put the kids through the stress of a divorce. By the children this may be seen as condoning the abuse, or they may accept this behavior subconsciously as normal. This creates a vicious cycle. I believe the only way to teach kids differently is to go into the homes and fix the problems there. This is no easy task. I don't pretend to know what the answer to this behavior is, but I do know it should not be tolerated.
Another powerful theme dealt with in SchoolGirls is the race versus gender issue. When I say this I mean how in inner-city schools, such as Audobon, your skin color may be a more important factor than your gender. The inner city is a gathering place for the poorest of the poor, and overwhelmingly its schools consist of minorities (blacks, Hispanics, etc.). Because inner-city blacks are given little opportunity to succeed, they turn to gangs and crime. So, although there are the same issues of gender bias at Audobon as there are at Weston, the struggle of survival and staying alive in a high crime area is more important. To compare the problems of Weston girls to Audobon girls seems almost trivial; but this would be a first impression. If you take into account that the girls at Audobon prepare to face a hard life on the street their entire childhood you would realize they know nothing else. They are tougher, both mentally and physically, then the girls at Weston. This does not mean one girl's problems are worse than another's, but simply that these two types of girls face different sets of problems in different environments. To the girls at Audobon their problems may be worse. To the girls at Weston their problems are worse. Who's to say whose are actually the worst. Each girl prepares to take on their problems differently. These problems can be equally dangerous. A Weston girl might kill herself through anorexia or suicide while an Audobon girl might kill herself by joining a gang.

After reading this book I do know one thing, where ever they live, girls have to deal with a lot of problems. I hope to remember some examples of the trouble cases in this book so I can keep that in mind when I talk to girls. I should always remember how tough they really have it.

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