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Tripping the Prom Queen


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About the Author

Susan Shapiro Barash is the author of eight previous books and a professor of Critical Thinking/Gender Studies at Marymount Manhattan College. As a well-recognized gender expert, she is frequently sought out by newspapers, television shows, and radio programs to comment on women's issues. She lives in New York City.


The recent rash of books and movies about mean girls may seem to indicate a new phenomenon, but Longfellow observed about a certain little girl almost 200 years ago, "when she was good, she was very good indeed/but when she was bad, she was horrid." The 500 women gender studies scholar Barash interviewed for this exhaustively researched book on female competition confirms that women can indeed be mean. Barash outlines why women compete with each other differently than men do with other men and why women often want to sabotage powerful female rivals. Male competition is goal-oriented and limited, Barash says, while women compete over appearance, children, the workplace and relationships. Why? According to Barash, for women, competition is about identity and relationships, and they have a harder time setting boundaries to competition. Barash devotes chapters to specific areas of competition, from looks to career, and then presents real-life examples of situations in which resentment and jealousy can be used to improve one's life without destroying anyone else's. Overall, this study provides a helpful starting place for any woman wondering if it's possible to get what she wants without hurting or being hurt. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"A must-read." --Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees And Wannabees

Barash (critical thinking & gender studies, Marymount Manhattan Coll.; Sisters: Devoted or Divided) bases her book on conversations with 500 women who responded to her request for stories of envy, jealousy, and friendship. She seems insufficiently aware, however, of the possibility that such a self-selected sample may not fairly represent all women. The pettiness and cruelty of many respondents make for unpleasant reading, scarcely mitigated by the author's assertion that societal sexism is a driving force behind the nastiness. While the world no doubt contains women who deliberately set out to seduce their best friends' husbands, stab hard-working coworkers in the back, and commit other such acts of interpersonal evil, the book becomes frustrating for readers who are concerned with rivalry among women but are not themselves prone to lashing out so destructively. Nonetheless, there are a few voices to which the rest of us can relate, and later chapters feature some useful ideas for managing rivalrous feelings. Recommended for large public libraries or as demand warrants.-Susan Pease, Univ. of Massachusetts Lib., Amherst Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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