GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
(Jody Miller, 2001)
Chapters 1 and 2
2. What are Miller's research questions? In what ways is her research similar to that conducted by Decker and VanWinkle? In what respect is it similar to Sullivan's?
3. Describe the settings for her study. Contrast the characteristics of Columbus and St. Louis Describe the research design, including methods and sampling.
4. How were the girls recruited for this study? Contrast this recruitment of gang members with the approach used by Decker and VanWinkle. What limitations does Miller identify in her research?
5. How important does Miller think gender is in shaping women's participation in gangs, and the types of crime in which they engage?
6. There is a heavy reliance on the stories that the girls share with Miller about their experiences in the gang and their reasons for joining in and staying with their gang. Miller writes on page 33 that "For some of the young women I spoke to I believe participating in the interviews was both empowering and illuminating because they were able to reflect on their lives in ways typically not available to them." The girls attitudes toward their gangs were ambivalent and inconsistent, depending upon their situation at the moment the interview took place. Do you think that the girls in Miller's study are similar to the boys in Decker and VanWinkle's study in their construction of myths--especially myths about violence--about gang life? Discuss this.
8. Using the data in figures 3.1 and 3.2 ("Pathways into Gangs"), summarize the differences between girls who joined gangs and those who did not. How important is the presence of gangs in a neighborhood in drawing girls into delinquency and gang involvement? What theories that we have studied apply here?
9. Compare the influence of peers/friends on girls'' gang involvement with the influence of peers/friends in boys gang involvement (as discussed in Decker and VanWinkle's book).
10. Compare the family environments of gang and non-gang girls? What needs does the gang fulfill for girls?
11. Why do non-gang girls--many of whom have friends in gangs--avoid becoming gang members?
Chapters 4 and 5
13. Describe the ages, ethnicity, and sizes of gangs in Columbus and in St. Louis, noting the differences and similarities.
14. What does membership in a gang give girls? What qualities are seen as desirable in prospective members in Columbus and in St. Louis? Are there differences between qualifications in the cities? Explain.
15. Contrast the organizational structures of the gangs in Columbus and St. Louis in terms of hierarchy, structured roles, relationships with male members of the gang, and so on. Describe the career path of gang members in each city. How does one "advance" through the ranks?
16. What are the rules about dating and relationships in the gangs in the two cities? In what ways are attitudes toward sexuality similar to or different from the attitudes among adolescents in the wider society? How does pregnancy and the birth of a child affect gang membership in the two cities?
18. What types of gang crimes were occurring in the two cities? How do members gain the respect of other members within the gang, that is, what types of crime are used to prove competence and leadership?
19. Describe the differences between the crimes that girls in the gang are likely to commit most often, and the criminal activities of male gang members.
20. To what extent are women exposed to violence within the gangs? What kinds of violence do girls engage in?
21. Discuss the activities of girls in the two cities related to drug sales. How did young women interpret their exclusion from certain types of drug sales? How as being a female advantageous in selling drugs? Who got the money from selling drugs?
23. While it is true that girls are more likely to be exposed to violence and victims of violence and sexual assault as gang members, they also frequently see the gang as protective. Why?
24. What were the attitudes of girls toward the use of "sexing in" as a means of initiation? How did they regard girls who took this route to gang membership rather than choosing to be beaten in? In what ways were girls attitudes toward sex with gang members and sexual conduct in general similar to mainstream notions of women's sexual activity?
26. What are their attitudes toward other women? Toward femininity? What characteristics do they see as desirable for themselves? Do you agree that the involvement of girls in gangs is a form or resistance to feminine norms and roles that are imposed on young women?
27. What adaptations were girls willing to make as members of a minority group (women) within the masculine gang world? How did girls explain the mistreatment of other girls, e.g., rapes, assaults, by males in the gang?
28. One gender belief to which the girls interviewed for this study subscribed was that "males are harder, females are softer." What advantages did their acceptance of this belief provide for the girls? What were the costs of what Miller terms "patriarchal bargains" for the young women?
29. After reading this book, what did you learn about girls in gangs that challenged or affirmed your previous stereotypes?Return to Patricia Masters Online home page
Patricia Masters Online updated on 08/15/04