|This paper reports partial results of a life history study on girls,
gender, and violence. The sample of the larger study consists of fifteen
white New England working-class girls, age 15-18: five "sex offenders,"
five "assaultive offenders," and five "nonviolent girls." The chief
questions addressed in the broader study are: Why do some girls engage in
violence and some girls do not? Why do girls who engage in violence commit
different types? In this paper I focus on the first question, discussing
why some girls specifically engage in assaultive violence. The goal was to
grasp each girl's unique viewpoint?her personal vision of why she engaged
in assaultive violence. Each interview, then, was an attempt to disclose
the situational accomplishment of gender and eventual use of assaultive
violence as a result of personal life history. The life history data shows
that assaultive violence was an accountable practice for "doing"
masculinity and/or femininity, depending upon the particular social setting
in which the violence occurred.
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