You know all about the trouble with “mean girls” and
competitive, judgmental women. Maybe you had a cruel high
school experience straight out of the movie Carrie.
Maybe you find yourself anxious because your daughter’s
peers are excluding her. Maybe you’ve been harassed or
marginalized by other females for being something they were
or are not: fat, acne-prone, brainy, a different religion,
too pretty, overconfident, a different kind of mother. Maybe
you have a difficult female boss who is wreaking havoc on
your ability to trust women in the workplace. And maybe
you’ve shrugged it all off and figured: That’s just the way
girls and women operate.
But have you ever
considered what all this negativity is doing to us? The
stories differ, and the consequences of our incivility range
in severity, but one thing seems almost universal: Women
carry powerful impressions and memories of their
female-inflicted wounds. The hurt lingers.
, Kelly Valen picks up where her
arresting New York Times
essay about a painful
sorority encounter left off. She pulls back the curtain on
female relationships, revealing the troubling findings from
her unique survey of more than three thousand women from all
walks of life. Demonstrating the paradox of how we both
support and sabotage one another, Valen’s research shows
that although the vast majority of women report having at
least one girl-friendship they wouldn’t want to live
without, well over half approach female camaraderie with
wariness or flat-out distrust and admit that they are
unable—or unwilling—to extend themselves to certain types of
women. An overwhelming majority say they have endured
serious, life-altering knocks from other females, and a
solid 97 percent of those polled believe it is crucial that
we improve the female culture in this country.
Laying bare the legacy of the belittled “girl wars” across a
woman’s life, The Twisted Sisterhood
hidden, enduring, and widespread fallout of our
manipulations and highlights our residual undercurrent of
distrust. Capturing the true attitudes of modern women,
Valen gives voice to the lingering memories, ambivalence,
and struggles so many of us are quietly experiencing and
considers the net effect of our darker habits: an
increasingly inhospitable and dysfunctional society of
women. Valen also looks to the future, offering hope and
practical ideas for how girls and their mothers, women, and
“sisters” can come together and improve their profoundly
needed female connections.
No matter how content or
supported you feel with your current circle of girlfriends,
Valen explains, each of us holds a stake in helping foster a
more mindful civility. Calling for a new normal in our
relationships, her provocative and illuminating book is sure
to spark a much-needed, meaningful dialogue that will
inspire us to live and behave authentically for the
betterment of our selves, our daughters, and the next
generation of women.
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