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Alpha Girls, Dan Kindlon


This book was referenced by one of the other books I read recently, “Manning Up,” and it certainly reads well as a companion to that newer work. Published in 2006, this book’s research was done in part to refute some of the earlier literature about young women — works like “Reviving Ophelia” and “Queen Bees and Wannabes” which suggested that girls were emotionally vulnerable, felt threatened or intimidated by boys, and struggled with self-image and body issues throughout adolescence. Kindlon argues that these images of young women are outdated and passe, that today’s young women are assertive, bold, and go-getters. He looks at the role of parents in the development of their daughters’ ideas of gender roles, examines the academic and school environments for young women, and the impact that these alpha girls are having on the role of young men.

Kindlon’s primary research was conducted through interviews with 113 girls, as well as a questionnaire administered to over nine hundred adolescent boys and girls throughout North America, an admittedly small survey sample, and one which was skewed towards private schools and affluent, white communities. Kindlon also cautions that his arguments apply primarily to western, first-world societies. However, he does provide counterarguments in the form of interviews with other professionals and researchers, as well as acknowledging that much progress still needs to be made for girls who have less opportunities and resources available to them from birth. Still, Kindlon’s enthusiasm for the new Alpha Girl seems to toss boys to the side, as he closes one chapter, “Perhaps the coming generations of feminized men may be happier than men of the past… men will be able to drop some of the burden of maleness and become more loving. The alphas will provide — fishing for termites, bring home the bacon — while men will have more of a chance to indulge themselves in sublimely pointless play” (176) — as if women want to hear more excuses for immature behavior from men!

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