Behind The Mask / Edition 1

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Overview

This boldly original book explores the origins, meanings, and forms of women's aggression. Drawing from in-depth interviews with sixty women of different ages and ethnic and class backgrounds--police officers, attorneys, substance abusers, homemakers, artists--Dana Jack provides a rich account of how women explain (or explain away) their own hidden or actual acts of hurt to others. With sensitivity but without sentimentality, Jack gives readers a range of compelling stories of how women channel, either positively or destructively, their own powerful force and of how they resist and retaliate in the face of others' aggression in a society that expects women to be yielding, empathetic, and supportive.

Arguing that aggression arises from failures in relationships, Jack portrays the many forms that women's aggression can take, from veiled approaches used to resist, control, and take vengeance on others, to aggression that reflects despair, to aggression that may be a hopeful sign of new strength. Throughout the book, Jack shows the positive sides of aggression as women struggle with internal and external demons, reconnect with others, and create the courage to stand their ground. This work broadens our understanding of aggression as an interpersonal phenomenon rooted in societal expectations, and offers exciting new approaches for exploring the variations of this vexing human experience.

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Editorial Reviews

Hispanic Outlook
This book explores the origins, meaning, and forms of women's experience of their own aggression. Drawing from in-depth interviews with 60 women of different ages, and ethnic and class backgrounds, Dana Jack provides a rich account of how women explain (or explain away) their own feelings and acts of rage and violence. She shows the positive sides of women's aggression, and the potential for destructive aggression to be transformed.
Seattle Times

Behind the Mask is based on interviews the author conducted with 60 women, ages 17-75, mostly from the Pacific Northwest. Jack was surprised to hear how women in her study defined the range of experiences they considered 'aggressive,' from saying what they think or using a certain tone of voice, to physical assault...Some of the stories seem innocuous, but they speak to the pervasive (and justified) fears women have of negative social responses: a police officer toned down her feelings of exuberance after physically subduing two shoplifters, not wishing to appear to her male colleagues as if she enjoyed it too much. A college rower enjoyed feeling aggressive in workouts, challenged male professors for sexism, and even carried a gun when riding her horse on back roads, but raised her voice only once in four years with her boyfriend, for fear of alienating him. An obstetrical surgeon was warned by hospital administrators to refrain from 'improper behavior' that could be interpreted by other staff as hostile because she gave direct orders during surgery, rather than requests.
— Wingate Packard

ForeWord

An adept and sympathetic interviewer as well as a perceptive and talented writer, Jack relates the stories of women who span the range of age, class and ethnic background to give a full picture of how women perceive aggression in our culture...In our society, she writes, the myth is that men are naturally aggressive and women are naturally and innately unaggressive, which leaves women to seek outlets for their anger in 'sneaky' ways. It is hoped that this illuminating and very intelligent work will help dismantle that mythology, so that women can be seen, and heard, as they are.
— Elizabeth Millard

Choice

Jack, who offered important insights in Silencing the Self, explores another facet of women's psychology—women's experience of their own aggression. She argues that both depression and aggression originate in disconnection, and that aggression is fundamentally relational rather than intrapersonal in character...Jack explores provocative subjects such as the societal taboos on female use of aggression; the collusion of psychology with molding conforming female behavior; and the double bind faced by women whose career path requires use of aggressive behavior.
— L. M. C. Abbott Trapp

Metropolitan Living
For a few, aggression finds outlet in real, physical violence. But for most it means internalizing and hiding behind masks of complacency or silence. Jack's book suggests that some forms of aggression can be valuable, and that women's frustrations can be transformed into healthy competition and creative expression.
Seattle Times - Wingate Packard
Behind the Mask is based on interviews the author conducted with 60 women, ages 17-75, mostly from the Pacific Northwest. Jack was surprised to hear how women in her study defined the range of experiences they considered 'aggressive,' from saying what they think or using a certain tone of voice, to physical assault...Some of the stories seem innocuous, but they speak to the pervasive (and justified) fears women have of negative social responses: a police officer toned down her feelings of exuberance after physically subduing two shoplifters, not wishing to appear to her male colleagues as if she enjoyed it too much. A college rower enjoyed feeling aggressive in workouts, challenged male professors for sexism, and even carried a gun when riding her horse on back roads, but raised her voice only once in four years with her boyfriend, for fear of alienating him. An obstetrical surgeon was warned by hospital administrators to refrain from 'improper behavior' that could be interpreted by other staff as hostile because she gave direct orders during surgery, rather than requests.
ForeWord - Elizabeth Millard
An adept and sympathetic interviewer as well as a perceptive and talented writer, Jack relates the stories of women who span the range of age, class and ethnic background to give a full picture of how women perceive aggression in our culture...In our society, she writes, the myth is that men are naturally aggressive and women are naturally and innately unaggressive, which leaves women to seek outlets for their anger in 'sneaky' ways. It is hoped that this illuminating and very intelligent work will help dismantle that mythology, so that women can be seen, and heard, as they are.
Choice - L. M. C. Abbott Trapp
Jack, who offered important insights in Silencing the Self, explores another facet of women's psychology--women's experience of their own aggression. She argues that both depression and aggression originate in disconnection, and that aggression is fundamentally relational rather than intrapersonal in character...Jack explores provocative subjects such as the societal taboos on female use of aggression; the collusion of psychology with molding conforming female behavior; and the double bind faced by women whose career path requires use of aggressive behavior.
Nancy Rule Goldberger
This is a fabulous book--rich, passionate, informed, illuminating. I know of no other work that provides such a comprehensive and detailed account of the many facets and disguises of women's aggression. It is beautifully written and filled with fascinating stories that extend our understanding of how women develop and express themselves in the face of poverty, racism, and violence against women.
Toni Bernay
In this new book, a remarkably perceptive writer takes on a difficult subject: the roots of women's aggression, its manifestations in rage or shame or determination, and the possibilities of transforming aggression into creative energy. Dana Jack argues that if we hearken to women's own voices--and many are beautifully recorded here--we will hear the ways in which aggression can be experienced as part of a whole self, rather than a shameful impulse. Behind the Mask is a hopeful book as well as a compelling one: it shows us a way to start healing the divided feminine self.
James Gilligan
Most discussions of aggression up to now have focused on male behavior, and most discussions of women have avoided examining female aggression. Dana Jack's new book, Behind the Mask, breaks free from both of those limitations, and thereby advances our understanding both of women and of aggression. By challenging the assumption that women are either too strong (morally) to engage in domineering, competitive or harmful behavior, or too weak (physically or psychologically) to succeed at it, she shows how and why they do so, and illustrates how women's aggression typically differs from men's. She also makes an important and useful distinction between aggression and violence, and indicates why the net effect of aggressive behavior can often be constructive rather than destructive. This is an important and original book.
Seattle Times
Behind the Mask is based on interviews the author conducted with 60 women, ages 17-75, mostly from the Pacific Northwest. Jack was surprised to hear how women in her study defined the range of experiences they considered 'aggressive,' from saying what they think or using a certain tone of voice, to physical assault...Some of the stories seem innocuous, but they speak to the pervasive (and justified) fears women have of negative social responses: a police officer toned down her feelings of exuberance after physically subduing two shoplifters, not wishing to appear to her male colleagues as if she enjoyed it too much. A college rower enjoyed feeling aggressive in workouts, challenged male professors for sexism, and even carried a gun when riding her horse on back roads, but raised her voice only once in four years with her boyfriend, for fear of alienating him. An obstetrical surgeon was warned by hospital administrators to refrain from 'improper behavior' that could be interpreted by other staff as hostile because she gave direct orders during surgery, rather than requests.
— Wingate Packard
ForeWord
An adept and sympathetic interviewer as well as a perceptive and talented writer, Jack relates the stories of women who span the range of age, class and ethnic background to give a full picture of how women perceive aggression in our culture...In our society, she writes, the myth is that men are naturally aggressive and women are naturally and innately unaggressive, which leaves women to seek outlets for their anger in 'sneaky' ways. It is hoped that this illuminating and very intelligent work will help dismantle that mythology, so that women can be seen, and heard, as they are.
— Elizabeth Millard
Choice
Jack, who offered important insights in Silencing the Self, explores another facet of women's psychology--women's experience of their own aggression. She argues that both depression and aggression originate in disconnection, and that aggression is fundamentally relational rather than intrapersonal in character...Jack explores provocative subjects such as the societal taboos on female use of aggression; the collusion of psychology with molding conforming female behavior; and the double bind faced by women whose career path requires use of aggressive behavior.
— L. M. C. Abbott Trapp
Library Journal
Jack (Silencing the Self) explores the meaning, sources, and content of women's anger and aggression through data provided by 60 women. This study challenges traditional views of aggression as a simple destructive impulse or a personal trait that is predominantly male. For women, Jack finds, aggression arises out of a need or desire to establish intimate connections with others. She deftly combines a feminist power perspective with psychological insights to explain a wide variety of societal problems like sexual harassment, eating disorders, depression, difficulties for women in traditional male occupations, and domestic violence. The book concludes with stories of valiant women who transformed their lives through positive forms of aggression after being exposed to abuse and violence. Though the sample size is small, this original, extensively referenced analysis broadens our understanding of aggression and is suited to academic collections in women's studies and psychology. It would also be useful to professionals who treat abused and battered women.--Antoinette Brinkman, Southwest Indiana Mental Health Ctr. Lib., Evansville Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674005372
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/2/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 0.75 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Dana Crowley Jack teaches at Fairhaven, an interdisciplinary college of Western Washington University.
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Table of Contents

Hearkening to Women's Voices

1. The Puzzle of Aggression

2. Ways of Occupying Space

3. Why Not Hurt Others?

4. The Rage of Disconnection

5. Masking Aggression

6. Creating New Ground

Notes

References

Acknowledgments

Index

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