Another Perspective

Our Girls

Turns out Lynndie England is not all that unusual.

By 9.20.04

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No sooner had sociologists discovered what they dubbed female alternative aggression --the unpleasant, but one would think obvious fact that pubertal girls snub, exclude and spread vicious rumors about one other -- than these findings were made inconsequential by another shocker: that when it comes to plain, old-fashioned physical brutality, girls are quickly catching up (and in some instances have caught up) with boys.

In her 2002 best-seller Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, author Rachel Simmons was taken aback to find that our little princesses were not all sugar and spice, and could in fact behave with such malice as to make Pfc. Lynndie England cringe. But while Ms. Simmons was enthusiastically blaming girls' "alternative aggression" on a Western patriarchic system that discourages the gentler sex from loudly or physically expressing (or even acknowledging) its anger and petty jealousies, rates of female violence were skyrocketing. Had she known, Ms. Simmons doubtless would have cheered the fact that girls were finally openly and honestly expressing their feelings, just like the boys, ala fisticuffs. Throughout her book, Ms. Simmons and the little vixens she interviewed lamented that -- unlike their male counterparts -- society would not allow them to blow off their anger quickly with a few blows to the snout and a jab to the solar plexus.

Proponents of open and honest aggression might also celebrate news that the FBI's Crime Index for violent crimes shows that the arrest rate for American girls soared 103 percent between 1981 and 1997. During that same period the arrest rate for boys rose a mere 27 percent. Reporter Marisa Trevino found that during the last decade the rate of girls under 18-years-old arrested for aggravated assault rose by 7 percent. Among boys such arrests fell 29 percent. The most dismaying finding, Trevino suggests, was a 46 percent rise of females who were a party to forcible rape. Among males, the figure fell by 28 percent.

More recently, Richard Heikes, a principal for a Texas alternative education center, told Women's E-News, that he began noticing this shift in gender dynamics in middle school two years ago. "Right now, in my (alternative) middle school we are 50-50, males and females. It used to be 70-30 or 80-20. The girls are offending just as badly as the boys."

Another study from the November 1999 Psychology Today involving 460 female murderers and all but ignored by the alternative aggression researchers, showed that women are growing more stereotypically male in their reasons for murdering, and concludes that for the first time in recorded history girls are altering their pattern of aggression from the traditional female form of hidden aggression to the ass-whupping male variety, the inevitable result being that more and more of America's sweethearts are beginning to resemble Jerry Springer's butt-kicking trailer brides.

FEMINISTS ARE UNDERSTANDABLY reluctant to acknowledge that study after study have shown that women are not only as potentially violent as men, but they are potentially more violent, partly because they expect not to be punished for their actions. Psychology Today reported that two National Family Violence Surveys, conducted in 1975 and 1985 with a total of 8,145 married and cohabiting couples, concluded that 12.4 percent of women have assaulted their spouses, compared to 12.2 percent of men. In severe assaults, the numbers were 4.6 percent for women and 5 percent for men. Across the pond the numbers are similar. A 1999 British Home Office study found 4.2 percent of both men and women had been assaulted by a partner the previous year. True, assaults by women often result in less serious injury, but apparently not for lack of trying.

Meanwhile Irene Frieze, professor of psychology and women's studies at the University of Pittsburgh, undertook yet another study to disprove the absurd notion that girls were more violent than men in dating situations. Frieze, according to Psychology Today, was dumbfounded to learn that of the college students she surveyed, 58 percent of women had assaulted their dates, compared to 55 percent of men. And yet despite such findings it is male students alone that are forced to attend date rape seminars and sensitivity training sessions, while across campus at the Tri Delta House the sorority sisters smugly plot their next act of alternative aggression.

Surprisingly, outside of radical feminist circles society and the patriarchic culture are not being blamed for the skyrocketing increase in female violence. More often than not scholars are fingering the influence of feminism and something called the "liberation hypothesis," which briefly states that fifty years ago if a young woman wanted to be bad she had relatively few opportunities to do so. Equal rights have given women more economic opportunities, but also more opportunities to be bad, or, as in the case of Lynddie England, very bad.

With the disturbing case of Private England doubtless still fresh his mind, Shepherd Smith, president of the Institute for Youth Development, recently told Fox News that feminism is a significant factor in girls becoming more violent. "You see females modeling more male behavior, whether it's women in the military, or construction, hunting -- traditional male activities -- I think that some of the spillover is that male aggression is picked up [by girls] more than has been ever witnessed before."

When Unlucky Lynndie goes away to Leavenworth for torturing nude Iraqis she will have plenty of degenerate same sex company now that females are making up a greater and greater portion of the criminal justice population. Our generation has witnessed the percentage of girls in juvenile jails soar from 5 percent to 20, and it is still rising. In 10 or 20 years there will be as many females as males in prison, Coramae Ritchey Mann, Ph.D., professor emerita of criminal justice at Indiana University told Psychology Today.

One thing hasn't changed. Most youth violence still occurs among poor working class and blue-collar kids, the large majority of these coming from broken homes with all the attendant drug, alcohol and sex abuse. The Lynddie England types. In contrast, upper class girls will continue to successfully hide their alternative aggression from clueless parents and teachers. But it will be the lower class girls who will continue to get the most "benefit" from open and honest displays of aggression, largely in the form of permanent records and time served.

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About the Author
Christopher Orlet writes from St. Louis.