- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 3 hours
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Abridged
- Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 16 Dec. 1999
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002SQ5J64
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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Reviving Ophelia Audiobook – Abridged
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Top customer reviews
The answers are all here, you just need to sit down and absorb the concentrated wisdom of this wonderful lady. It takes some doing; every page is chock-a-block with priceless wisdom.
Definitely a book for teenage girls who (like me) find themselves questioning the status quo and are unable to get an answer.
According to Pipher it's because girls are much more oppressed. They are coming of age in a more dangerous, sexualised and media-saturated culture" which by its nature is "girl poisoning" and characterised by pressures to be beautiful and sophisticated, use chemicals and be sexual. "America today limits girls' development, truncates their wholeness and leaves many of them traumatised".
Pipher suggests she could not call on her own adolescent experience to find the answers. Modern girls live in an entirely new world with which she is unfamiliar. She endorses Simone de Beauvoir's suggestion that adolescence is the age at which girls realise men have all the power and begin to construct themselves for the pleasure of others rather than asking "Who Am I? What do I want?". As biological changes kick in parents become outsiders and adolescents turn to equally insecure peers for support they are incapable of giving.
The biggest problem for female adolescents is their bodies which are regarded with emotions ranging from excessive pride to outright embarrassment. Getting teenage girls to view their bodies objectively is nigh impossible and they suffer from excessive mood swings. "They feel angry and betrayed. They feel miserable and taken for granted, used rather than loved". Like Shakepeare's Ophelia it's never clear whether they are insane, suicidal or simply unfortunate.
The questions they ask of themselves are introspective and self inflicted. Pipher claims "girls are having more trouble now than thirty years ago, when I was a girl, and more trouble than even ten years ago. Something new is happening." She regards this novel happening as cultural changes which have reduced the period of childhood. Girls are expected to become women before they have finished being girls.
Much of this comes from peer pressure. "Girls can be true to themselves and risk abandonment by their peers, or they can reject their true selves and be socially acceptable." Adolescent girls, Pipher claims, "discover that it is impossible to be both feminine and adult." The only way girls can really deal with this is to benefit from consciousness raising and fight back. To "learn that they have conscious choices to make and ultimate responsibility for those choices. Intelligent resistance keeps the true self alive."
Unfortunately, many adolescent females show neither the intelligence nor the resistance to remain true to themselves. Pipher notes that many successful women were rejected as adolescents by their peers. They found their own private space in which they could develop as individuals. Yet Pipher contradicts herself in pointing to the popularity of Chelsea Clinton as a hero for young teens. Clinton is simply an alternative version of the culture Pipher detests. Clinton's not a sex object but has the status, money and opportunities teenagers would like for themselves. The only difference is in the packaging.
The problems experienced by adolescent females may be expressed differently in response to contemporary cultural values but essentially remain the same as they have ever been. Teenage rebellion is a natural phenomenon and often represents the emotional immaturity of the adolescent. It's also a time when parents need to know when to stop being parents and how to start being friends. It's a time for understanding at a time when time for understanding is at a premium.
Pipher's conclusion that people should "work toward a culture in which there is a place for every human gift, in which children are safe and protected, women are respected and men and women can love each other as whole human beings," is trite rather than fatuous. The only words she left out were, "and everyone will live happily ever after." It's never been the case, nor should it be. Once human beings start to act as rational creatures society will collapse in the face of predictability. Until then teenage rebellion is par for the course and often runs its course naturally.
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