The book Getting Played: African American Girls, Urban Inequality and Gender Violence (2008) by Jody Miller is a thought-provoking work that provides a detailed examination of the victimization that African American girls experience while living in the disadvantaged neighborhoods. One of the major advantages of this work is the fact that the author grounds her discussion on practice, taking into account the real cases of the young girls living in St. Louis, Missouri. The work is based on the interviews, which the author has conducted with the young girls, and all the conclusions are established on concrete facts. In her work, the author investigates the issue of victimization to its fullest and proposes the strategies that could be helpful in preventing victimization. The interviews have revealed multiple risks, and among the most common of them were pressure to have sex, the intercourse with the individual just because of the inability to stop him or because of the lack of choice, sexual abuse, etc. It has to be stated that the likelihood of victimization was truly high since gender discrimination prevailed in the neighborhoods under analysis. This work aims at revealing the extent, to which the author has managed to enlighten the problem of victimization, and portraying the reasons of its continuation.
The focus of Miller’s work is young African-American girls who suffer from victimization at home, schools, and in their relationships. Girls reveal horrible things in course of interview, and the readers understand that the life around them is full of drugs, street gangs, and violence. Girls face risks every single day, as they are the part of the male-dominated neighborhoods, where men decide what should be done. These young individuals become the witnesses of violence experienced by the women with the worldview that differs from than that accepted in the neighborhood. Moreover, these girls become the subject of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and coercion.
While discussing the issue of risks, which African-American girls encounter, Miller (2008) mentions sexual abuse at school, sexual coercion, and gender violence. The interviewed girls confirmed the fact that they had become the subject of sexual comments or even touches (Miller, 2008, p. 110), while being in their educational affiliation. Moreover, they even perceived these things as the everyday feature of their environment. They were used to it, and they started considering sexual harassment as the imprescriptible norm. Furthermore, researchers Walker, Spohn, and DeLone (2012) stated that the girls, who became the subject of sexual harassment, were even unable to respond properly to such treatment. Jody Miller (2008) emphasizes that the extent of sexual victimization, which African American girls experienced, was truly troubling. Nearly 31% of the interviewed individuals mentioned that they had experienced several incidents during their lifetime (Miller, 2008). They could not avoid it, as sexual abuse cases happened at school, and they were obliged to attend it. Moreover, these girls turned out to be unable to protect each other, as such a mode of behavior also posed huge risk to them (Walker, Spohn, & DeLone, 2012). They found themselves in a vicious circle, where the solution seemed to be truly impossible. One of the findings, which Miller depicts in her work, is the horrible sexual abuse statistics. The rate of sexual violence is extremely high among African-American girls. According to Miller (2008), the majority of girls reaching 16 have already suffered from sexual abuse and a third of them reported sexual victimization (p. 115). Such numbers are truly awful as they serve as the confirmation of the fact that huge problems are hidden within American society. Emeka Aniagolu (2011) emphasizes that African-American women experience gender discrimination from African-American men in the domestic setting as well as in professional and civic spheres. Aniagolu (2011) emphasizes that African-American women turn out to be obliged to play the traditional roles of motherhood and domestic work, and they often endure different kinds of abuse such as physical violence and sexual exploitation. Historically, African-American women suffered from different kinds of victimization, and despite the fact that progress went far, nothing had changed within the African-American communities (Aniagolu, 2011). Men still perceive themselves as the representatives of the dominating sex and consider themselves legible for committing physical violence to their women. The worst thing in this situation is the fact that males are even unable to perceive the extent of harm that they inflict on women.
The bonus of Miller’s work is the fact that it includes a two-sided investigation. African-American boys also took part in the research. The findings have shown that they did not consider their behavior as sexual violence. The gang rape was a usual thing for them. The likelihood of victimization was extremely high among African-Americans because the huge percentage of the young people was engaged in gangs. There, alcohol and drugs were easily accessible, and for that reason, the crime rates were tremendously high. It should be admitted that alcohol and drug addiction are also the common reason for the flourishing of victimization within the African-American community. James Howell (2011) mentions alcohol and drug abuse as one of the stepping-stones, leading towards victimization. Howell (2011) states that there exists an evidence that early initiation of alcohol makes girls more vulnerable. This is definitely true. The thing is that alcohol and drug use make girls more likely to be involved in the sexual intercourse even in the case when they do not want it. Alcohol makes them defenseless and less likely to deny victimization.
Jodi Miller could be perceived as the great author who has conducted a groundbreaking work. She has managed to explain the reasons for the occurrence of victimization among African-American girls. Moreover, the interviews presented in the work turned it work into a precious source of truthful and practical data. Furthermore, Jodi Miller (2008) provides the response towards Sampson and Wilson’s theoretical perspective and explains the issue of victimization from practical and realistic viewpoint. Sampson and Wilson’s theoretical perspective took the traditional approach towards explaining crime among African-Americans. Instead of finding out the peculiarities of African-American people, they simply state that there are macrosocial patterns of residual inequality that later result in the inadequate social behavior and the inability to stick towards the cultural norms. It has to be stated that Sampson and Wilson’s approach is too generalized since it suits all kinds of people who live in poor neighborhoods, but it definitely includes a grain of truth. However, this is just a grain. To understand the origin of African-American victimization, it is necessary to penetrate into its milieu and to investigate the situation from the inside. It is not enough just to state that a low income, poor socio-economic level, and high level of crime lead to victimization. It is necessary to grasp how this process develops and what factors promote it. African-American girls only partially suffer because of the macrosocial conditions. One of the other essential reasons of their victimization is the fact that historically, African-American men have treated women with sort of disrespect. African-American women turn to be obliged to perform their female role, and sex is a part of it. In such a way, girls turn out to be unable to avoid victimization. From the early years, they have observed how their mothers, sisters, and friends experienced sexual abuse and coercion. For them, such a mode of behavior has become the norm. Mentally, they understand that it is wrong, but within their community, such cases often happen, and they do not cause astonishment. This is just a common thing for them.
The advantage of Jodi Miller’s approach towards investigating the victimization among African-Americans is the fact that she has made her conclusions, judging from the practical observations and the information provided to her by the girls. Her investigation leads the reader away from the simplistic ‘kinds of people’ approach proposed by Sampson and Wilson and focuses on the practical ways of assisting African-American girls. Jodi Miller (2008) proposes considering the issue of victimization in a systematic fashion. She aims at involving the policy makers into the process of searching a solution towards the existing problem. She wants the police to introduce the strategies that will instill confidence and desire to approach. Moreover, she states that school personnel have to introduce the approaches to fight sexual harassment. The community services have to be also involved. Police, school, and social agencies are responsible for the healthy development of the nation (Miller, 2008, p. 205). The current situation shows that their performance is inappropriate and that serious changes have to be introduced to make some improvements. One should note that the recommendations, which Miller provides, are reasonable and they could truly positively affect the situation.
In conclusion, it should be stated that Jodi Miller’s work, which has gripping and harrowing details, discusses the victimization of young African-American girls in poor neighborhoods. The work applies the approaches that both girls and boys use to explain their behavior. Moreover, the work uses the carefully crafted methodologies mixed with practical observation and scientific viewpoint. The work is truly helpful, as it explains gender violence and simultaneously assists the reader to understand it. Unfortunately, some works apply wise terms but fail to make the reader realize the gist. Jodi Miller took care of her readers and depicted the facets of gender violence in a cogent way. The work includes the sympathetic analysis that explains the risks and factors leading to it. It is a great source free of embellishments, and it tells only the truth.
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